My Style: Julia Leach

Portrait of Julia Leach

Portrait: Amanda Marsalis — Courtesy of Julia Leach

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

It's best when it comes from the inside rather than being adopted from outside; if what you're wearing feels uncomfortable, you'll look uncomfortable...don't suffer for style. Good shoes are game changers.

Please describe your style in three words.

Timeless, tomboy, and confident.

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

I'm a big fan of effortless, casual dressing...but sloppy? Not so much.

Do you believe in role models?

Yes, I do—both in having them and being one—but in combination with listening to your inner voice and trusting your own instincts.

What are your favourite fabrics?

Cashmere, linen, denim, and oxford cloth.

Are there any style combinations that you object to?

Though my own style is fairly reductive, I love it when people are irreverent, playful and individualistic. So no, I don't object to any style combinations.

Which city has the best-dressed women?

Paris and Stockholm.

Would you say that you are conservative or bold?

Conservative with bold accessories.

What are the rules in the way you dress?

Simple, easy, quiet flair.

Celebrities and style...

Are at their best when you don't see the hand of the stylist; Cate Blanchett, Charlize Theron, and Michelle Williams all work with a stylist, yet they still exude their own individual sense of style.

Name one garment/accessory that you can never have enough of?

A three-way tie: White jeans, striped t-shirts, great strappy heels (Gianvito Rossi, Saint Laurent, and Azzedine Alaia are favourites of mine).

A woman should always look like...

She made an effort but didn't try too hard.

Who taught you what you know about style?

My grandmother, who was always impeccably dressed (camel hair coats, Ferragamo shoes, crisp blouses), and my mother, who balanced tailored taste with a bohemian lifestyle when I was growing up in the late 70’s and 80’s (Levi's, cashmere turtlenecks, Marimekko smocks, espadrilles).

How do you select your clothing every morning?

I start with a pair of shoes I'm in the mood for and move upwards from there.

What is your biggest regret?

Not learning French, which I could and should have done since my mother moved to France when I was young. Other than that, no regrets.

Chance clothing sweater

Do you have any shopping rituals?

I go to Uniqlo for their cashmere V-neck sweaters every autumn; 45rpm in SoHo twice a year for Japanese denim, cotton, and linen pieces; and Barneys twice a year for splurgy shoes.

We will never see you wearing...

Plaid pants.

Which new designers do you follow and why?

LA-based Stephanie Danan and Justin Kern of Co for their luxurious essentials; Gildas Loaëc and Masaya Kuroki of Kitsuné for their ability to fuse style and music in a modern way; Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen of The Row for their ability to create fashion that’s dramatically simple and serene; and the Acne team for their Scandinavian cool.

Who is the most stylish person you have ever seen?

Jane Birkin for her independent spirit and sensual ease, and Anouk Aimee for her presence and gaze.

What is the first thing you notice on a woman?

Her hair and the sparkle in her eye.

What are the most treasured items in your wardrobe?

Several pairs of vintage Levi's from college (still in regular rotation) and an espresso brown Prada fur coat, 3/4 length with a nipped waist and a single contrasting patch pocket—it fits as though it's bespoke.

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

Two images have stayed with me for years: Richard Avedon's shot of Lauren Hutton sitting Indian style in a white shirt and pants and Helmut Newton's shot of Charlotte Rampling sitting backwards on a chair—she's not wearing anything at all, yet she exudes discreet, mysterious style.

Which designer never fails to impress you?

Phoebe Philo for her ability to simplify and surprise; Margaret Howell for perpetually reinventing the classics; Mona Kowalska (of A Détacher) for her inventive, sculptural practicality.

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

Her skin! It's not an article of clothing, but you wear it everyday. Best to take care of it.

Is comfort an enemy of style?

No, comfort is a bedfellow to style when style is at its best.

Who would you like to recommend for My Style?

J.J. Martin, Lawren Howell, Jennifer Alfano, Lauren Goodman, Jessica de Ruiter.

The best words of advice you have ever heard?

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” — Leonardo da Vinci

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