Shop like a fash­ion ed­i­tor ‘nerd’

The Daily Telegraph - - News Review & Features -

Of all the fash­ion ed­i­tors whose paths have crossed mine, Jayne Pick­er­ing is the one whose wardrobe I most con­sis­tently long to steal. Which is odd be­cause she’s an in­vet­er­ate wearer of black, and I’m not. She has a mop of dark wavy hair, which means she can wear a white shroud and it’s al­ready ac­ces­sorised. I have to do a bit more when I wear some­thing that plain, oth­er­wise it looks un­fin­ished… and we have very dif­fer­ent body shapes. But I al­ways ad­mired how com­fort­able and el­e­gant she looks and how ev­ery­thing is just so – the def­i­ni­tion of mod­ern clas­si­cism.

That’s not just any white shirt she’s wear­ing, but one she’s de­lib­er­ated over (she hates it when they but­ton so high they look prissy, or too low so that you see a glimpse of bra). She doesn’t dress to im­press or to pull or to please any­one other than her­self.

I al­ways thought she should do a cloth­ing line. And fi­nally, she has, sort of. At least, af­ter years of styling for Brora, she’s col­lab­o­rated with Vic­to­ria Sta­ple­ton, Brora’s in­de­fati­ga­ble founder, on a cap­sule col­lec­tion of Jayne-es­que cash­mere Brora sta­ples, to cel­e­brate their 25th an­niver­sary. There are eight colours, in­clud­ing bur­gundy, navy, a baby blue you’d want to wear, camel (she ag­o­nised over the right one), cream, black and choco­late. Along­side an an­drog­y­nous su­per soft cor­duroy (the ul­ti­mate Jayneite lux­ury-meets-func­tion fabric) trouser suit, there are gor­geous cable-knit sweaters in the per­fect, to­bacco-y camel, a nicely pro­por­tioned boyfriend cardi­gan, some cob­webby knits, the ul­ti­mate navy turtle­neck and a cov­etable pon­cho all in Brora’s finest cash­mere (cue a “bliss­ful” win­try visit to Brora’s cash­mere fac­tory in How­ick) – all of it mod­elled here by Laura Bai­ley, “whose un­fail­ing abil­ity to mix so many dif­fer­ent aes­thet­ics” Pick­er­ing ad­mires, not least be­cause Bai­ley’s free-range eclec­ti­cism is so dif­fer­ent from her own more tightly cor­ralled view.

There’s no doubt Pick­er­ing has “the eye”. She can zoom in on the one black or navy jumper (some­times camel) out of 50 black jumpers that’s truly per­fect. It will have a neck­line that hits the back at just the point to make a neck look its long­est and most el­e­gant, or the per­fect sleeves for push­ing back up your arms (and stay­ing there). And let me tell you about her white shirts, which are al­ways im­pec­ca­ble and demon­strate that not all white shirts are re­motely equal.

If it sounds bor­ing, be­lieve me, it’s not. It is in­tensely nerdy, but why not? If you care about clothes, then nerdy is where you need to aim. This is the an­tithe­sis of the flash, bang, wal­lop ap­proach, which does well on In­sta­gram and is all about sur­face ap­peal. It may go over the heads of the street-style pho­tog­ra­phers, but that’s the way this cam­era-phobe likes it.

When de­tails are this finely wrought, a pair of black jeans and cash­mere jumper look fresh all over again. But she can also throw a curve­ball. Ev­ery so of­ten she’ll break rank with her own rules and wear a bit of colour, “in those slightly off colours that old Celine was so good at, that went with ev­ery­thing”. Some­times she’ll even wear a pat­terned dress. “But only at night. And it has to be the right dress.” She has also splurged on Duro Olowu one-offs. “I don’t have many dresses, so I like them to be ver­sa­tile and time­less.”

Un­usu­ally for a min­i­mal­ist, she wears lots of jew­ellery, par­tic­u­larly by Pippa Small and Marie-hélène de Tail­lac – 10 rings, all of them del­i­cate and fine, six ban­gles and two thin, long gold chains with charms and a diamond-stud­ded out­line of a cloud. If these were an ab­sent-minded ac­cre­tion of ran­dom bits and bobs it would look clut­tered, but ev­ery sin­gle item has been care­fully con­sid­ered. So now I want the jew­ellery, too.

Her ca­reer got off to a grat­i­fy­ingly Cin­derella-like start. “I was the don­key de­liv­er­ing the clothes to the mag­a­zines to shoot. I’d turn up at Vogue House in my beaten-up Re­nault and haul the clothes up to the fifth floor and even­tu­ally Lucinda Cham­bers hired me as her as­sis­tant.”

Now fash­ion di­rec­tor of Marie Claire, she has a knack of mak­ing high­fa­lutin fash­ion re­lat­able to a gen­eral reader. That’s a corol­lary of the way she dresses – toss­ing on a Saint Lau­rent flak jacket and mak­ing it look like a much-loved every­day sta­ple, which it is. “What I loved about this jacket,” she says, jus­ti­fy­ing its scary price tag, “is that it’s the nicest shade of khaki, with just a bit of blue but also some warmth in it. Also it’s light and roomy enough to layer up un­der­neath. That makes it work pretty much year round”. She’s had it for two years and will wear it un­til she drops. The def­i­ni­tion of a good buy.

“Even as a child, I knew ex­actly what I wanted to wear,” she says. “I re­mem­ber the Biba cat­a­logue ar­riv­ing and not be­ing able to be­lieve all that beauty.” Not that she had an ob­nox­iously gen­er­ous cloth­ing al­lowance as a teenager. Biba was way out of her price range, but ‘twas ever thus. If she loves some­thing and it meets her ex­act­ing cri­te­ria, she has to have it – her shop­ping habits were leg­endary on Vogue.

“I buy much less now though,” she claims. This is partly fi­nan­cial wis­dom kick­ing in be­lat­edly – she has three chil­dren, aged 18-23 – partly be­cause she is tuned in to the Marie Claire reader, whose at­ti­tude to fash­ion is more re­al­is­tic than the av­er­age Vogue reader, and partly be­cause those years of in­vest­ing in the best have paid off.

“I like my clothes, and they’re not go­ing to date,” she says, but she con­cedes that to reach the el­e­vated pared-back plateau takes a lot of thought. “When I was younger I’d go to the fash­ion shows and throw ev­ery­thing into a suit­case as­sum­ing it would all turn out all right on the night. Now I metic­u­lously plan my out­fits ahead to make sure I’ve packed all the nec­es­sary el­e­ments and al­ways take a hand steamer.”

It sounds la­bo­ri­ous, but as with ev­ery­thing, once you’ve laid the ground­work, the har­vest is a breeze. Ul­ti­mately, fussi­ness means you buy less and are more con­tented with the items you have. “I’m a re­ally cau­tious shop­per these days. Too much of any­thing feels very old-fash­ioned.”

‘Even as a child, I knew ex­actly what I wanted to wear. I re­call the Biba cat­a­logue and not be­ing able to be­lieve all that beauty’

Cream of cash­mere: above, Jayne Pick­er­ing, fash­ion di­rec­tor of Marie-claire, wears items from the Brora cap­sule col­lec­tion that she co-de­signed. Above left, Jayne with Vic­to­ria Sta­ple­ton, Brora’s founder, and Laura Bai­ley. Left and be­low, Laura Bai­ley wear­ing Brora

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