Welcome to the latest highly exciting instalment of Who What Wear UK’s Best Wardrobes in Britain. It’s where we do exactly what it says on the tin: delve into the most fantastical, awe-inspiring and downright influential wardrobes in this fair country of ours. We’re honing in on the women who cause the street style photographers to press their shutters as much as the characters you don’t yet know—the ones who fly under the radar with secretly incredible clothing collections.
Everything about chef Anna Barnett's Dalston mezzanine flat is perfectly curated, from the display of stoneware crockery to the gigantic pantry cupboard. You get the sense that a lot of thought has gone into every item on every shelf. The phrase "investment buy" can be thrown around in fashion writing, however, it can be a real skill to sift through passing trends and know which are the items you will actually love for years. But Anna has a very clear sense of personal style, which is reflected in both her home and her wardrobe.
Her home is calm and minimal with a considered neutral palette, big Crittall windows and notably no clutter. While she loves an Acne jumper, I wouldn't use the word "minimal" to describe her wardrobe. The items she wears (and invests in) the most are beautifully crafted silk dresses, chunky shoes and made-to-last minimal basics—and she styles them in a typically London fashion: She'll typically wear one high-impact fashion item but then counter it with simple basics. For example, she'll wear black socks with Miu Miu sandals, black rollnecks under sequinned dresses and re-wear the Roksanda dress she wore to her London town hall wedding with trainers.
On Anna Barnett: Whistles jumper; & Other Stories dress; COS trousers; Valentino slides; necklace from her grandad; Celine alphabet necklace
Anna started her career in events and celebrity booking for MTV and went onto work at the fashion label House of Holland, however, in 2015, she moved into the world of food. She wrote her first cookbook in 2015 and now hosts a series of cookery classes at her London home as well as working on numerous other culinary projects.
This shoot was captured just weeks before the outbreak of coronavirus in the UK, and Anna has unsurprisingly spent her time indoors in her kitchen, and she is inviting us all in too. As the nation has moved inside Anna has started live-streaming daily cooking masterclasses on Instagram. P.S., today at 6 p.m., she'll be showing us how to make a noodle dish on Who What Wear's Instagram.
But before you rush off to start making sourdough and pasta dishes with Anna, keep scrolling for a glimpse inside her wardrobe.
On Anna Barnett: Roksanda dress; Manolo Blahnik shoes
What items in your wardrobe are you the most sentimental about?
Probably my yellow Roksanda dress that I got married in in London. I just love it so much—it is such a statement dress, and I sometimes think people might think, "Oh, I've seen you in that before," but I just don't care. I think if you really love something and you want to feel special, you should wear it all the time and not save it! I've worn it with trainers and sandals, but I've also worn it to other people's weddings too.
Who are your favourite designers?
Over the years, I've always loved Miu Miu for shoes (I've got some amazing mirrored heels and the green sandals I'm wearing today from them). I've collected a few special wonderful pieces from Mother of Pearl and then I worked at House of Holland and lived and breathed the brand, so have so many of its pieces.
For dresses, I love Edit the Brand, Roksanda and Temperley, as they are just so feminine and beautiful. Then I also love brands like COS that do a great boxy fit and Acne for staples. I love Simone Rocha, which is very feminine but chunky and comfortable. I basically just love a comfortable gown!
On Anna Barnett: Manolo Blahnik shoes
When you shop, is it important for you to think about how much you'll wear something?
Yes, but I always love to trawl through Zara and see the trends it's copying. I very rarely buy things from there, but it's the process of putting things in my basket and really thinking about what I then actually buy. I don't buy things I'm not certain about or don't love because I know I won't have the respect for it once I have it and I won't care for it.
I know it's a bad way to be, so I try to buy things that I will be really invested in and think I can dress it up and down and wear it with everything I have. I just try to be mindful and all the dresses that I've spent a lot of money on I've worn a lot. I got married four years ago and still absolutely love this yellow dress.
On Anna Barnett: House of Holland dress; House of Holland x Grenson boots; Topshop blazer
Have you always been interested in fashion?
Growing up, my family friends called me "habdash" because I used to work in haberdashery, and they'd say, "You just wear all the things." And I did wear all the things. The worst thing I did wear out was vintage brown culottes that had bright fluorescent yellow and pink flowers on it. I'd wear skirts as dresses and culottes as dresses. I was quite creative, really!
When did you find your style?
It just evolves, doesn't it? More than ever, comfort is such a big thing for me. I want something that feels special but that is just comfortable and warm and cosy. I ultimately like the idea of being in a luxe cashmere tracksuit. If I had lots of money to spend on clothes, I'd buy a beautiful tracksuit from somewhere like The Row.
On Anna Barnett: Mother of Pearl dress
Is there anything you have worn that you wouldn't wear again?
Style always changes. Trends do change, but the only thing I actually regret is those brown culottes.
What items have you been loving looking at recently?
I'm just constantly trawling and often have lots of dresses saved in wish lists. I love midi dresses in bright colours with oversize sleeves at the moment that are just so fun to wear.
Do you think about things a lot before you buy them?
I'm impulsive, but I've got better and really consider everything. Also, renovating this flat meant I had to just stop shopping. There is something so nice about buying and wearing something new, but it makes it more important that you buy something you really want to invest in and you think about for days after you've seen it, and then you go back and buy it and you know it makes you happy. It's like "Yes, this does bring me joy," instead of just the thrill of something new.
What items do you wear the most?
Dresses and jumpers! I love big cosy jumpers and am such a fiend for a tracksuit. It's a tracksuit or high-end dresses. I'm all or nothing. I probably wear the same thing day in and day out and think a good jumper is my key item.
On Anna Barnett: Miu Miu shoes
What do you tend to wear for work in the kitchen?
If I'm working in the kitchen doing shooting or cooking for shoots, I am very practical, and because I work on my own quite a lot, I always then like to make more effort when I do go out. I love buying investment pieces, so I do wear them. Even if I'm wearing a lot of layered black dresses, jumpers and trousers, I'll wear a really nice pair of shoes. It just makes you feel nicer for it, and if you've been dressed down all day, it can just be so much fun.
On Anna Barnett: Self-Portrait dress; Aquazzura shoes
Thanks for having us, Anna!
Shop Anna's Homeware and Wardrobe
Next up, see our guide to the key trends for spring/summer 2020.