There are some people whose fashion advice you should always take heed of, and Vogue editor/stylist/consultant Ginnie Chadwyck-Healey is one of those people. Last year, after 12 years at the fashion publication, Ginnie decided to set off on her own to create a new venture called VCH Style, which sees her taking on everything from brand consultancy and personal styling to presenting. Unleashed from the world of glossy magazines, Ginnie is now on a one-woman mission to clear up the nation's wardrobes. And, if that's not enough, she has also just been announced as Kate Middleton's new personal stylist—if that's not a testament to her fashion prowess, we don't know what is. Watch this space.
With her mantra, "condense, curate, create," Ginnie has a practical approach to personal style and is an expert when it comes to creating a capsule wardrobe. "Piecing together your everyday looks should be as enjoyable and easy as throwing on that new dress for a special occasion," she tells us, and we couldn't say it better ourselves. So with spring on its way and sustainable consumption on our minds, we decided to quiz Ginnie on her top tips for clearing out our wardrobes and making room for hardworking new pieces. Keep scrolling to get her tips and shop her capsule wardrobe edit.
Why is it so important to maintain a well-edited wardrobe?
I think it's important for your own sanity and bank balance. A good edit makes life just a little bit easier in the morning, yet so often we end up zipping into a shop on a lunch break, spending as much as £40 to £100 on something we think we need. Usually, once you get home, you realise you have something lurking at the back of the cupboard that is almost the same look. That need to get the dopamine hit from a new purchase sometimes needs to be suppressed! Knowing what you actually own will help.
What lessons did you learn about curating a wardrobe whilst working at Vogue?
I learnt that fashion trends are essentially cyclical. I used to write and present the Vogue Trend Report to the fashion and beauty industry. Of course, designers upped their game each season, but the underlying themes often worked on rotation. You can bet that safari chic, nautical, military, metallics or monochrome will never need to be thrown out.
At Vogue, I amassed a little of every kind of trend as the years went by. It means that now I'm not as easily swayed by the brilliant merchandising in the windows of Zara or & Other Stories, for example. Instead, I focus more on finding the perfect navy trousers (currently Piazza Sempione) or the most comfortable day shoes that are timeless (Rupert Sanderson). My mantra of "buy few, buy better" has been there all along, but it has come to the fore in my freelance life.
What are your top tips for culling an over-burdened wardrobe?
Lay out the denim. Lay out the Bretons. Lay out the T-shirts. Try them on. Look for stains (the ultimate cull fodder). Ask yourself when you last wore something: If it was over a year ago, be honest. Ask yourself why you aren't reaching for that one piece. You'll soon be led by your gut instinct. I have two girls, so sometimes I keep pieces for them. I always loved Jonathan Saunders, so I can't get rid of those pieces.
Know that you're aiming to love everything in your wardrobe because it both fits and looks good. Don't feel guilty about the price you paid for something eight years ago. Take it to charity (cue my plug for SmartWorks!), or try and put it on eBay, but ask yourself: Would I be happy with getting just £40 from this? (Because that's probably what you'll end up with!)
I just stored a Temperley backless top I've been staring at for eight years. My girls can have that for their teens. I just gave a couple of Breton tops to charity. I've replaced them with one really good linen mix Breton top from UK brand Stripe & Stare. I also found some handbags that will go to a resale boutique in Wiltshire called Bertie Golightly. Honestly, I just use totes now. The slightly forlorn-looking Mulberry can go to a better home.
What are your tips for reviving forgotten about fashion items?
Replace buttons to add colour or to simply revive interest. The obvious tip is also to take pieces to the dry cleaner and fork out the money for a seamstress to adjust to your shape (compared to when you bought it). Know it will cost a bit, but it will feel like you just bought a whole lot of new items. Try on those hideously uncomfortable shoes you've been avoiding, and if you don't get that "Gosh, these are great" feeling, I'm afraid, the love affair is over.
My Joseph coat (bought in 2012), my Canada Goose coat (from my husband in 2013), my Louis Vuitton heels (bought in 2017), my Liberty London tote (gifted as a beach bag in 2017) and my Zara army shirt (bought in three colours in 2016). All these pieces get full marks in terms of longevity and still deliver that excitement.