The Daily Telegraph

Style on Instagram? It’s more than selfies

There’s a wealth of genuine fashion advice to be found on social media now. Caroline Leaper discovers the women worth following…


You would be forgiven for thinking Instagram was a place that only existed for show-offs. True, narcissism and nosiness are its founding pillars (you want people to “like” your outfit as much as you want to see their new kitchen), but a new wave of stylish women are finding alternativ­e uses for the platform and dedicating daily screen time to dispensing honest advice to their audiences. From the woman teaching followers how to turn old togs into modern pieces, to the independen­t reviewer road-testing the high street, these Instagram experts are determined to show us all how to save time and money when it comes to getting dressed.


Follow for: tips on how to rework your old clothes

Kate Mcguire, a former headhunter, decided a year and a half ago that she would start showing people how to upcycle what already exists in their wardrobes. “I’ve been converting my own clothes since I was a child, so it felt natural to document how I do it,” she explains of why she launched her page, Converted Closet. “I did some research and found that people wear only 20per cent of their clothes, so 80per cent of the average wardrobe just sits there. Instead of going to Zara for your next fix, why not have a look at what you already own and see if there is something clever you can do? You get a new, unique piece, it’s ecofriendl­y, and way cheaper.”

Mcguire’s point of difference is the quality of the clothes she reconfigur­es. Following her meticulous­ly described “conversion­s”, a fan will end up with a bespoke outfit, rather than a mishmash of fabrics that look like they’ve been rescued from a recycling bin. “There are a lot of Youtube videos of people in bedrooms showing you how to patchwork jeans, but there wasn’t anything glossy, to teach you how to make your own high-end pieces.”

From taking the sleeves off a blouse to chopping winter coats into spring jackets, nothing, Mcguire says, is unsalvagea­ble. “You once loved something about every piece you own,” she says. “Even gaining or losing weight doesn’t have to mean the end of the road for an old favourite. I’ve made trousers two sizes bigger, and a lot cooler, by putting stripes of a contrastin­g fabric down the sides. If a shirt doesn’t fit any more, take off the collar and add a band at the back.”

Mcguire doesn’t claim to be a master pattern cutter; she says all you need for the process is a good eye. “You don’t actually have to do the sewing yourself, you can take it to your local dry cleaners,” she enthuses. “It’s really fun to think; I still love that collar but I now hate those sleeves. I’m just going to change it up and make this more me.”


Follow for: demystifie­d wedding fashion When Gabrielle

Taylor was getting married four years ago, she found that the bridal fashion industry, frustratin­gly, was full of smoke and mirrors. “I was searching on Instagram and I would find gorgeous imagery of dresses, but no practical informatio­n to say who the designer was, the price, or if it’s even available in the UK,” the former Topshop designer explains. “There was this gap between inspiratio­n and informatio­n, so I started White Dossier as an Instagram account in September, and now it has developed into a bridal concierge service, with a website which launched in February.”

Taylor found that both brides and key guests (mothers and bridesmaid­s) were getting in touch with her to ask for fashion tips, and realised that there could be enough demand for her to launch a personalis­ed fashion sourcing service. By highlighti­ng lesser-known designers, she’s becoming an authority on what’s new in what is an otherwise tradition-steeped industry.

“I want people to get ideas from the feed about new brands they may not have heard of, as well as see great accessorie­s that will last beyond the wedding day,” she says of what to expect if you do hit “follow”. “The wedding industry is massive and it’s changing; brides might have destinatio­n weddings where they need four outfits, or a lot are messaging me about party dresses now, as it’s popular for the bride to change into sequins at midnight.” Through Instagram, Taylor has networked with bridal designers from around the world, and hosted her first event, a trunk show, at London’s Wedding Gallery with New Yorkbased designer Danielle Frankel last month. “It’s really a case of doing the research for people so that they don’t have to. It’s exciting when you’re showing them something Left: Anne Marie Gee shows her audience where to find second-hand designer pieces, such as this Olivia Rubin dress they can’t usually get here in the UK.

“I found [Danielle] through Instagram as well, so nothing I’ve done has been through pre-establishe­d contacts, just social media.”


Follow for: impartial styling advice on a budget Sick of seeing bloggers and influencer­s flaunting their freebies online, Anne Marie Gee set up her antidote account, Catwalk School Gates, last year. “I had my kids late and I found myself in my forties, at home with young children, looking at people on Instagram who were giving really unhelpful fashion messages,” Gee says of what inspired her to start posting on the social media site.

“I was previously a finance director and now I couldn’t justify spending money on new clothes. Something clicked and I started selling the pieces in my wardrobe that no longer suited my lifestyle, reinvestin­g the money, and using Instagram to show other women that it is possible to shop well on a budget.”

Gee trawls the high street and vintage shops, giving a running commentary of tips on how to find pieces with longevity. If she’s done with something, she sells it in her correspond­ing e-shop, in doing so teaching followers how to build a financiall­y-effective, rotating wardrobe.

“If I’m going to spend more than £30 on something, it needs to be beautiful, not just average,” she confirms. “I want to show what you can get for your money if you go vintage, as well as which pieces on the high street are actually worth it and will hold some value when you come to resell them.”

Gee will tell her followers where she bought items, what time is best to visit the store, as well as reviewing the quality, fabric content and sizing. “That is what people need to know,” she says. “It’s no use for someone like me to look at a 19-year-old influencer wearing things they’ve been sent for free by one brand.

“If I buy an H&M dress, I will talk about the fabric, whether it’s seethrough, if it creases. Other people might not tell you because they probably get commission.”

“I want people to think of their things as assets; they should get the best quality pieces that they can for their budget and always sell and reinvest the profits when they’re done.”


Follow for: A&E for accessorie­s Just when you thought that your favourite old tote was battered beyond repair, along comes an Instagram page that will inspire you to resuscitat­e it.

Vanessa Jacobs founded her London-based repairs business, The Restory, towards the end of 2015, and her correspond­ing social media account is becoming a hit in its own right.

“Everyone has had an experience where they look at something old in their closet and they think it is not going to be possible to bring it back,” Jacobs considers. “We want to show that’s not true. It could be repainting, rebuilding, changing straps or adding contrastin­g panels – something can always be done to bring your favourite pieces back to life.”

The Restory’s Instagram page has mesmerisin­g video tutorials of everything from hand-painting faded spots on leopard-print to turning old brown Chelsea boots into new black glittery boots with a fresh coat of polish. Before and after pictures show how Jacobs and her team can take a handbag that looks worn out and repaint it with fresh stripes and a new chain handle, all to a great “applause” of likes from her accessory addict followers.

“These are often expensive things that you’ve bought and enjoyed, so why not do something to try to prolong their life,” she says.

“It’s cost effective and it’s sustainabl­e to take care of your accessorie­s, but I wanted it to come across that this process can be fun and creative; it doesn’t have to be boring maintenanc­e.

“We get so many messages from people asking for DIY fixes, as well as asking about bigger transforma­tions. Our ethos is that we try to never say no, we always present a solution. We just want to show you all the different possibilit­ies.”

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 ??  ?? The white stuff: @Whitedossi­er introduces its followers to new brands, such as Les Heroines, below
The white stuff: @Whitedossi­er introduces its followers to new brands, such as Les Heroines, below
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Upcycled: who says an army sleeping bag can’t make excellent culottes?
 ??  ?? Transforma­tion: Kate Mcguire converts a little black velvet dress into a top and summer skirt Above: the Restory team can take a brown tote and change it into a personalis­ed bag
Transforma­tion: Kate Mcguire converts a little black velvet dress into a top and summer skirt Above: the Restory team can take a brown tote and change it into a personalis­ed bag
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