Why I Ripped Up The Fashion Rulebook & Never Looked Back

Throw out your day-to-night cliches, Grazia’s Fashion and Beauty Editor, Hannah Banks-Walker, reveals why she’s embracing a new fashion way of life…

Some years ago, I had a realisation that, while fairly unremarkable, has in reality completely changed my wardrobe for the better. I realised that my own collection of clothes were, at one time, entirely geared towards dressing up, which meant that not only did I struggle with what to wear on a daily, more casual basis, I had also backed myself into a ball gown-strewn corner, with nowhere left to go. I was so dressed up so often, that when it came to certain occasions – weddings, say, or my niece’s christening – nothing I put on felt ‘special’ enough. I had out-dressed myself and not in a good way.  

I’m sure we’ve all read the relentless clichés associated with women’s fashion. It usually involves a hilarious adage concerned with where we’re all going: ‘13 of the best dresses to take you from desk to dinner!’ ‘Outfits to help you go from work to weekend!’ I don’t know about you, but I’m by no means in need of such weirdly specific outfits. I just need clothes that will make me feel great and that make life, with all its trials and tribulations, easier. That’s why I have adopted a new fashion way of thinking, which I encourage you all to embrace.  

It’s simply focused on the idea of dressing down to dress up. I know, pass me the Pulitzer Prize! But really, this very straightforward concept can be, in effect, ground-breaking. I’ve managed to cultivate a wardrobe filled with versatile pieces that work for both everyday and those pesky special occasions, when putting on clothes suddenly becomes something much more complex and political. It’s pieces like a flattering slip dress. When layered over a t-shirt and worn with trainers, it’s the sort of laidback ensemble I want to throw on at the weekend. Take the t-shirt off, however, add kitten heels, a tailored jacket and some jazzy earrings, and I’m ready for cocktail hour (or, because I don’t actually live in an episode of Mad Men, a drink at the pub). Similarly, a velvet pleated midi skirt is a natural fit for a night out (with a lace trimmed cami and block heels), but can look just as appropriate at the office with a white shirt and flats.  

Another lesson I’ve learned fairly recently is that, by investing in ready-made outfits (read: midi dresses and jumpsuits) I have far more time to spend enjoying myself rather than faffing about trying to put together insightful combinations. And while the prospect of leather look joggers may sound terrifying to some, in reality, they’re one of the most useful items a wardrobe could boast. I’ve been wearing mine with slogan knits during the day, and a leopard print tee for dinner or drinks.  

My new approach means I never feel under or overdressed, safe in the knowledge that my wardrobe can accommodate every eventuality with ease. Well, that’s the idea anyway. But at least I’m not tripping over my ball gown on my way out of the house.