My Style: Hannah Elliott

Portrait of Hannah Elliott of Forbes Magazine

Photo: Mei Tao — Courtesy of Hannah Elliott

Is comfort an enemy of style?

Yes. I realise this is an unpopular opinion but if you let comfort dictate your choice of what to wear you automatically omit wearing items that are incredibly stunning and may do you a bit of good. I’d rather have perfect lines and know I look amazing than be comfortable. Comfort is the enemy of growth, innovation, exploration, courage. Discomfort can spur us to actions of glory!

Please describe your style in three words.

Impossible, I fear.

What is the biggest mistake one can make when getting dressed?

Not being realistic about your body type — what you simply can and cannot wear given the shape of your legs, hips, shoulders, height, etc.

Do you believe in role models?

To a degree, but I’ve never been much for worshiping personal icons. It’s nice to have people to admire, but better to cultivate your own personality which will bear out naturally in your style and actions.

What are your favourite fabrics?

Silk and leather, of course. To wear pure silk is one of the finest luxuries. And I love the way leather smells, breathes, ages.

Are there any style combinations that you object to?

Not as long as the overall look is sending a clear message. If the clothing all works together in unison and has the same effect, it can never be wrong.

Which city has the best-dressed women?

I have never seen so many impeccably dressed older women than in Buenos Aires. I loved their sense of dignity and even mystery — you’d see them only at certain times of day, quietly having a café in the shadows, but they’d be exquisitely kept, with flawless skin, hair, and perfect shoes.

Would you say that you are conservative or bold?

I would say I’m a minimalist with extremist tendencies, by which I mean that eighty percent of the time I dress in solid colours (black, camel, red) and with a strong profile of clean, long, slim lines. But twenty percent of the time I’ll put something like bright printed tights with a geometric patterned silk blouse and wear them with my grandmother’s jodhpur boots and gold bracelets. The minimalism acts like a shield, almost like a sniper uniform that makes me feel disciplined, strong, and powerful. And it makes me feel luxurious and wild when I wear the exact opposite. I feel equally at home in both.

What are the rules, if any, in the way you dress?

I have only one rule: No open-toed shoes, ever. This includes flip-flops.

Celebrities and style...

Are unrelated.

One garment/accessory that you can never have enough of?

I am a sucker for a jumpsuit.

A woman should always look...

Feminine. I love androgyny, but the look only works if you are very slim, preferably with long hair and feline features. Then it can look amazing.

Who taught you what you know about style?

My grandfather, who taught me to appreciate the skill, dignity and elegance of restraint. And he taught me the value of a good hat. My grandmother, who trained my eye to always look for and love beauty, and who also gave me some of my most precious pieces: Victorian gold bracelets, a leather car coat, a ruby ring, her own jodhpur boots from when she’d rid in the ‘70s.

How do you select your clothing every morning?

I open my closet and run my eye down the row — I’ll pull whatever catches my eye, vet it in a full-length mirror, and if it stands, I’ll wear it. It’s relatively uncalculated.

What is your biggest regret?

I don’t dwell on regret.

The three essential things a woman should know about style are...

Wear what you like and forget the rest. Stop waiting for the perfect occasion to wear your favourite pieces. Why would you postpone the joy you’ll get from wearing them? It’s better to buy and wear fewer things that are good than many things that are bad.

Do you have any shopping rituals?

I go alone and move quickly.

We will never see you wearing...

Pastel. Ruffles. An empire waist.

Which new designers do you follow and why?

I love Anthony Vaccarello because his clothes are clean, strong, and darkly alluring. I adore Mary Katrantzou, especially her fall collections, because she knows how to use colour and printed looks in a powerful, beautiful, feminine way.

Who is the most stylish person you have ever seen?

Carla Bruni in her day. Vanessa Paradis. Slim Keith.

What is the first thing you notice on a woman?

The line of her body. Then her shoes. Then her cheekbones. Then her hands.

What are the most treasured items in your wardrobe?

The bracelets, rings, and watches passed down from my Danish great-grandmother Sigrid to my grandmother Helen to me.

The one image that defined your approach to style...

I’d hate to relegate it to just one image.

Which designer never fails to impress you?

Balmain, for upholding such exquisite craftwork and beauty in its collections. Givenchy, for the aggression and sense of prestige each collection offers.

One article of clothing that a woman needs to pay close attention to is...

Her shoes. Always shoes. The same goes for men.

Who would you like to see next in My Style€?

My friend Doris Raymond who owns an amazing vintage store in Los Angeles called The Way We Wore. My friend Atif Kazmi, who personifies great style for young men. He owns the blog Por Homme.

The best words of advice you have ever heard?

It’s never too late to do the right thing.

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