Welcome to the latest highly exciting instalment of Who What Wear UK’s Best Wardrobes in Britain. It’s where we do exactly what that title 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.
This month we're allowing you an AAA pass into a home you might well recognise if you're an eagle-eyed Instagrammer. Simply known as @monikh to her 75k followers on the channel, Monikh Dale is a Topshop personal shopper turned internet style expert, and we check her IG daily for inspiration. With her well-curated high-street pieces sitting alongside designer investment items worn proudly time and time again, she's a shining light of realness and the power of cost per wear in a world that can feel fast and furious and throwaway. Many women we know shop directly from her feed, so good luck scrolling to the bottom of this article before adding something to cart…
Phill Taylor; On Monikh: Raey dress and jacket; Chanel shoes; Chloé bag; Alighieri necklace
Tell me a little bit about how you ended up becoming an influencer…
I'm quite lucky; it happened organically. I started out at Topshop personal shopping; I was one of their personal shoppers, and I did that for three and a half years, and then within that time frame, Instagram happened, and I just loved the concept of taking my pictures. I liked what I was wearing, so I just wanted to show people!
My clients started following me, and they loved the fact that they could see what I was wearing without having to come into the store. Topshop noticed I was posting my look of the day; they started to shoot me for their website, so my following got a bit bigger. My clients started asking me for blogs, and I had no idea what a blog was! My assistant had one, so she made me a website… I started uploading pictures to the blog and writing a bit.
The whole point was—and why I still do this—is because I want people to feel good. I want women to know their different body shapes are great—it's just about getting the right fit of something, or pairing and item with the right shoe or length of top. Writing the blog became really therapeutic, and a year and a half into it, someone offered me money, and I thought, I can make a job out of this!
So do you still get asked lots of personal shopping–related questions? What do people ask you?
All the time. I get a couple of questions a day, which is really nice… It's always personal questions like "How tall are you?" or "Where are you from originally?" and "How did you get your tan?" I get that quite a lot, and then I have to tell them where I'm from and that it's not a tan. My dad is from India and my mum is from Singapore, but my mum was raised and born in Yorkshire. People generally want to know about style, like what's the right shoe to wear with that dress or where to find a good dress for a wedding, as that's when people spend money. I think that's why Rixo does so well; it's got that £300-mark good-quality dress.
Phill Taylor; On Monikh: Racil top and trousers; The Row bag; Chanel sandals; Alighieri necklace
I'm always inspired to see your outfits as you often wear the same pieces in different ways and seem to make really sensible purchases. Have you always been that way?
You've just described me in a nutshell; that's perfect! Because fashion is so fast, it's easy to look at your wardrobe and think your whole wage is in there—so I think I've always been the type of person to go for staples. Recently I've had quite a lot of people be like, "Stop wearing those shoes!" but that's me being clever about my purchases. And then you get other people who say "This is amazing; you've shown me a thousand different ways to wear this," which is what it's all about.
I think it's cleverer for girls to save up for six months, a year, three years—whatever it is—buy an expensive bag and wear it every single day for the rest of your life. That's the main goal: You want to be able to throw as little away as you can. I think it's nice to get the odd trend bit that's cheaper and from the high street, but the fact that what you're buying is more timeless, and you'll have it forever… Well, I'll pass down those Chanels to my little boy or my little girl when I have kids; they'll look cool in them.
The big question is how do you know when you've found one of those winning items?
I just get a feeling. My heart will just tell me. I'm really decisive; I know what I want. I can see something and I know if I'll wear it or not. It just happens.
And what are the smaller trend pieces you're into right now?
At the moment, silk skirts. I have eight in my wardrobe; I just can't help it! I always prefer to look underdressed than overdressed; that's the key. I can go anywhere and never look overdressed or like the odd one out… So the reason I'm loving the slip skirts is because they look so dressy, and they're at that mid length I like. I was about to say now that I'm hitting 30, I don't like to wear anything short, but I've never been a short dress or skirt kind of girl. I think mid length is sexy and cool. And you can wear them with heels, trainers, slides, a jumper or T-shirt…
Phill Taylor On Monikh: American Vintage jumper; a selection of slip skirts; Isabel Marant trainers
Talking of flats, you've really inspired me—as a fellow 5'1" girl—to start ditching heels.
I just think it's so empowering. We look cool wearing flats! Heels are gorgeous, but I'm a comfort girl, and I can't wear heels all day. The majority of the time I do prefer how I physically look in flat shoes compared to heels, and I just think, Why not? When I'm at a bar, I'll just hold onto the railing and pull myself up; I don’t need anything else!
Do you have any early fashion memories?
Probably walking to primary school when my little sister was in reception. My mum dressed us up in matching duffle coats that were pea green, and then we had the matching pea-green hats with bobbles on, so we looked like apples. It was a "look." And I remember hating my mum for it, but now I think it’s cool. If I had a kid, I'd be searching for those duffle coats straight away. I'm actually looking for a duffle coat for myself now… probably not green, probably tartan.
Do you have any of your own outfit regrets?
I wore those tartan trousers on Saturday, and I love them so much, but my boyfriend's friend did say I looked like a Westie in its winter coat. I'll wear them forever, so it doesn't really bother me. It's great that someone can share their opinion. I like it when it's a friend who says that (they know my personality and they know me), but when it's someone random on social media, I think there has to be a certain etiquette. I often make mistakes. I dressed up as a Spice Girl once in a bandana, thinking I was cool, and my friends don't let that go. I hate that!
Phill Taylor; On Monikh: Raey coat; & Other Stories T-shirt; Re/Done jeans
Has your personal style changed much over the years?
I think I go through phases, but I the core is minimal; it’s always basic. So there's always a good pair of jeans, a good basic T-shirt, a good pair of shoes and a nice, luxe, simple bag. But obviously the trends—tartan is amazing at the moment—I'll dip into. My Calvin Klein dress is quite drastic in its shape, but that's my one "wow" piece. I'll have a couple of "wow" pieces throughout my life, and hopefully I'll have that dress forever, and it'll show that at that time in my life I was quite playful and I was having fun.
And how about documenting your outfits—has that changed you?
I think it's made me better at realising this is the way I look. I'm 29 (nearly 30!), and this is my face; this is my body. Obviously there are all things we don't like about ourselves, but I'm someone who takes pictures of myself all day long, and if I became so critical about every wrinkle or every fat pocket that just didn’t disappear, I'd hate myself. That's such a waste of life. I think it's really helped me be happy with myself. I'm really lucky to do what I do and to be surrounded with amazing people. I just need to enjoy it.
Phill Taylor; On Monikh: Raey top; Miaou trousers; Chloé sandals
Tell us about your shopping habits.
I like to shop by myself. I don't like it when people are there. If I'm shopping with my friends, that's me shopping for my friend, and I'll do that all the time, but for myself, I need to be alone. So every morning, I check about five or six of the same websites to see what's new-in.
The ones I always check no matter what include Net-A-Porter, MatchesFashion.com, Mango and Topshop. They're what I've realised my clients (and when I say clients, I mean the people who follow me online, but I see them as much more than followers) like the most, and for me, they're the brands that are the most "me."
If I can't stop thinking about something for the rest of the day, I'll have to buy it. I order a lot online. All of my couriers and delivery men know me now. Sometimes they'll call me if I'm not at home; one doesn't even mind coming to meet me at the pub and dropping my parcels off!
Your interiors often act as a really great backdrop to your outfits, so I'm guessing those purchases are just as important…
I also search the main homeware websites every morning. I'm so into French Connection homeware; it's such a hidden gem. The price points are really good, the quality is amazing and you can really change a space quite quickly with a few of the items.
Soho Home's collections are great—trying to capture their essence and being able to buy a couple of their pieces can make a place look so homely. Lombok is also really good: It has a customisation service, so say you want one of its sofas but in a different colour or longer, or to change the wood, the fabric—all of that.
When I do have a house and a bit more money, that’s where I'll go for really unique pieces I've designed myself. We've lived here for three years, and I've probably changed it three times now. I keep it quite basic so it's easy to change. I'm going through a rattan phase: I'm obsessed with anything rattan and anything beige, and I love a mix of textures altogether.
Phill Taylor; On Monikh:
From your experience, what do you think are the biggest fashion mistakes women most commonly make?
I think people are too scared; that's the only thing that bothers me. Like when Isabel Marant did the big strappy chunky slides first, I bought the knockoff version because at that point I couldn't afford them. Looking back at them now, they weren't that chunky, but back in the day, they were, and I remember my sisters and my friends being like, "They're disgusting, they're so big, they look like grandad's chappal" (in Indian, that's basically like grandad’s sandal), and a year later, they were wearing my old ones!
So how do you think your friends and family would describe your style?
Put it like this: I was at a birthday party of one of my friends last week, and there were children, and I was wearing one of my expensive slip skirts. There were two little girls in the toilet, and they were really sweet and I helped them wash their hands, but there wasn't a towel or hand dryer.
I said, "Maybe find your mummies and get some tissue off them," and they just started shaking their hands at my skirt, and I didn't know what to say. I said, "Oh, girls, it's silk, it's silk, stop!" and my friends were around the corner listening and laughing. So there's a joke that if there are children around, I can't wear my nice stuff.
They might say chic? A bit over-the-top? But I think over-the-top is cool sometimes. And boyish; I'm still quite boyish.
Thanks for having us, Monikh!