Which city has the best-dressed women?
I think there are pockets of every city that have beautifully dressed women. Coming from Glasgow, I feel there is an incredible and vibrant fashion scene. People take such pride in their look, their hair, and their whole appearance whereas if you work in London there’s this ‘less is more approach’ and quite frankly I think it leaves a lot to be desired. Sure London is the fashion capital and harbours and nurtures amazing talent, but when you attend the fashion parties there is always a lack of glamour. Nude and casual elegance is all very well, but sometimes I just want to just do their hair and put some bright coloured lipstick on them.
Please describe your style in three words.
Sophisticated, elegant, edgy!
What is the biggest mistake one can make when getting dressed?
Dressing for others as opposed to dressing for yourself. Fashion can be seen as an identity maker; it should always reflect your identity with inspiration from others, but ultimately it should be about you!
Do you believe in role models?
Of course… to a degree. Where would we be without the wisdom and knowledge of others, particularly in fashion? But for me fashion role models are not just the stereotypical obvious ones, like high profile designers and fashion editors. I am intoxicated by the history of fashion that is filled with eccentric characters whose creativity and vitality over the years permeates the world, our streets, our homes and our lives. A senior politician or a nuclear scientist can be interesting in a fashion sense, how they form their identity according to what they wear. The intriguing discourse of fashion can assume the form of a critique of pure appearance; a critique of market-economies and even a critique of sexual morality. So do I believe in role models? For sure, just perhaps not just the ones you may think I like!
What are your favourite fabrics?
Scottish cashmere, Harris Tweed Hebrides and black crepe. Or gabardine wool, favoured by Graeme Black and Armani.
Are there any style combinations that you object to?
I don’t think we should object to any style combinations. Fashion by nature is extraordinarily unpredictable, that’s why it’s so attractive. If you can pull a particular look off with a quirky combination, then why not? However, if you can’t then it’s the ultimate fashion sin that will be forever logged on your style CV, so beware!
Would you say that you are conservative or bold?
Depends on my mood. I do like bold accessories; hats by William Chambers and quirky embellished items and I adore Swarovski jewellery — day or night. Having a bit of sparkle just lifts one’s mood!
What are the rules, if any, in the way you dress?
I think being the working mother of four children and being in fashion, I would be lying if I didn’t admit I take into consideration my age while dressing. I love getting older; I feel more confident now that I ever did and I think that reflects in my choice of colours, experimenting from my uniform black (which plagued my 30’s). So I think it’s important to dress for your shape, age and personality!
Celebrities and style...
Does their dazzling and shimmering world of fashion take away the scrutiny from the substance of things? Are we all lost in the sparkling world of commodities that celebrities endorse or is that we are all genuinely attracted to it?
One garment or accessory that you can never have enough of?
A woman should always look like...
Standing tall, dressing with confidence and happy within.
Who taught you what you know about style?
How do you select your clothing every morning?
I have multiple personalities in my wardrobe. I have the meeting me, the school run mummy me, the corporate me, the party me and the fashion week me!
What is your biggest regret?
I believe one should never have regrets; it’s a sin. Our paths and choices shape who we are and even although we might think about doing it differently, it would change the entire path and I wouldn’t change that for the world.
The three essential things a woman should know about style are...
Individuality, glamour, and confidence.
Do you have any shopping rituals?
No, although I do love spontaneous shopping bursts when the mood takes me. I very rarely plan to go shopping; I buy for the love of the garment, knowing that an occasion will arise rather than the other way about!
We will never see you wearing...
Which new designers do you follow and why?
I love so many new Scottish designers like Holly Fulton, William Chambers, I love Corrie Nielsen, Graeme Armour, Obscure Couture, I love what Brian Rennie is doing for Basler Fashion on the red carpet with his debut Basler Couture Collection. I admire people that are so passionate about what they are doing you just feel that they are going to burst. Their energy is motivating and their ambitions wonderful!
Who is the most stylish person you have ever seen?
We had The Hon Daphne Guinness to Scottish Fashion Awards and I honestly think her style is exquisite.
What is the first thing you notice on a woman?
Her lipstick choice, if she wears perfume and her posture!
What are the most treasured items in your wardrobe?
My husband bought me a Birkin bag for our wedding sixteen years ago and I treasure it — it has been on a lot of interesting journeys from fashion parties, to being a nappy bag to a business beacon!
The one image that defined your approach to style...
The vision of my mother. She always told me that no matter how you feel on the inside, if you present yourself well, your spirits will always lift. I follow that religiously — I still apply lipstick when my husband comes home from work and make the best of myself. I see so many women who simply forget to take care of themselves how they used to be and it makes me rather sad at times.
Which designer never fails to impress you?
I interviewed Karl Lagerfeld a few weeks ago as we were giving the Hall of Fame award to Stella Tennant at The Scottish Fashion Awards. I was in awe of him. He was the most well-spoken, immaculate gentleman I have ever met with a powerful personality. I have never witnessed a collection that disappointed from Chanel and Karl!
One article of clothing that a woman needs to pay close attention to is...
A good coat, especially in this Scottish weather. Think structure and shape, as it can be a wonderful ally, with the right tailoring and fabric over the top of the simplest dress or trousers.
Is comfort an enemy of style?
Absolutely — each day I go to the school gates and gasp at these women. I was once asked ‘how do you do it Tessa, you are so glamorous in the morning.’ I don’t say that for ego, I say that because it’s not rocket science. Get up a little earlier and have self-respect. Don’t rush out of the house wearing a track suit with a scrunchy in your unbrushed hair and never, never leave the house without lipstick if only out of respect!
Who would you like to see next in My Style?
Leslie Blodgett, the founder of Bare Minerals make up. She is an amazing woman that I had the honour of meeting at the Scottish Fashion Awards this year. Very chic, powerful, and successful.
The best words of advice you have ever heard?
For fashion, I think one should learn to watch and watch to learn!