First Lady

How to be your own First Lady

There’s been much dissecting of First Ladies this week, not least their fashion choices.

Plus the timely release of Jackie, the film starring Natalie Portman, which I’m really looking forward to.

Jackie, Michelle and Melania have their own distinct style, which I appreciate in different ways. But none appeals to me personally.

Instead, I take inspiration from my own First Ladies, my personal style icons. I don’t look or necessarily dress like them, but there’s something about the way they put stuff together that hooks me in.

My First Ladies have come and gone, but a core set endures.

Lady Penelope Thunderbirds
Lady Penelope, my favourite Thunderbird

Lady Penelope was my first. When I was five, I was mesmerised by the upper class Thunderbirds’ spy. I dreamed of being her personal dresser, though I’m sure I’d have got her strings in a muddle.

I wasn’t keen on her penchant for pink, but I aspired to look ‘posh like her’.

It took me years to figure out what this meant to me, but it gradually crystallised into a Buy Less Buy Well mentality of having fewer, but better quality clothes and accessories.

Lulu, my teenage girl crush

In my teens I developed a crush on Lulu. This was the late 70s, early 80s, and believe me, liking Lulu was deeply uncool. My friends were either punks or New Romantics so I kept it quiet.

Then a couple of years ago the petite Scottish singer came to a Norwich store to promote her skincare range, and I was in poking distance. I was overjoyed to find we are exactly the same height and shoe size.

Thereafter the similarities end, but I’ve always thought hanging out with Lulu would be bloody good fun, and she might let me borrow her shoes. So from her I take a sense of energy, fun and glamour, never underestimating the power of a decent hair cut and looking after your skin.

Linda Rodin
Linda Rodin, in her late 60s and super cool

In recent years I discovered Linda Rodin. This New York stylist is in her late 60s and is surely one of the coolest women alive.

Famed for tumbling grey hair, kooky spectacles and eclectic taste in clothing, for me she’s a lesson in mixing classic simplicity with funky edginess.

Of all my First Ladies, she’s the one I look to directly for style inspiration and confess to pinching most of her footwear ideas.

Helen Mirren's brave style
Helen Mirren’s brave styling

Helen Mirren’s air of ‘I’ll wear what I bloody-well-like’ is my inspiration for days when I find myself wondering ‘what people might think’. I love her rebellious streak and if I’m feeling too safe, I remind myself to Be More Helen.

So I have Penelope, Lulu, Linda, and Helen, my First Ladies who inspire me to feel energetic, respect my love of edited simplicity while adding some devil-may-care edgy glamour. And to get a decent hair cut.

If your own style is eluding you, find your own style icons. You don’t have to dress like them, but ask yourself what it is about their style that seduces you, and find your way of expressing it.

Michelle Pfeiffer, my friend’s First Lady

For example, a friend of mine admires the soft, feminine looks of Michelle Pfeiffer; there’s something about her style she aches for.

My friend has dark hair and doesn’t share Ms Pfeiffer’s elfin looks, so how can else can she inject her icon’s style into her own wardrobe?

When I pressed her for what it actually was about Michelle’s style she loved, she boiled it down to a sense of femininity, while still looking strong and in control.

We agreed bows and florals would not suit my friend’s looks or personality so I suggested that she instead looked for luxurious soft fabrics such as suede or cashmere, which had a touchy-feeliness about them. And soft colours, such as muted greens, light teal and crushed berry colours, all of which suit her.

Then mix these factors into her usual wardrobe of classic styling – a silky shirt under a sharp suit, a kitten heel with jeans or a faux fur collar to a smart coat, and keep her hair in a loose, easy style.

I suggested that when she gets dressed she asks herself: ‘What’s my fix of Pfeiffer?’

If you are want to inject some of your style hero’s look into your wardrobe, ask yourself what it is about them that you really love, and devise a way to get an essence of their style into your wardrobe.

It could be a tiny detail, or an all out, blatant steal of their hair cut or outfit.

What’s most important is that it makes you feel confident and unique.

Because of course, the most important First Lady in your life is YOU.

Until next time,

Sarah, Being Lois 

Sarah Morgan is a Personal Stylist based in Norfolk UK

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