This year marks a decade since “selfie” was named word of the year by the Oxford English Dictionary. Fast-forward to 2023, and while many tourist hotspots have now banned the use of selfie sticks, the selfie itself remains as ubiquitous as ever, with everything from AI filters to high-spec phone cameras elevating the selfie into an art form of its own. Narcissus may have died gazing at his own reflection, but clearly he didn’t have Facetune.
Yet, somehow, selfies remain a divisive subject. The world seems to be split between those of us who love a front-facing camera moment (Kim Kardashian and Boris Johnson, to name but a few) and those who take pride in the tumbleweed state of their iPhone’s “selfies” folder. My selfie count sits at a moderate 270 (out of 6,890 photos), however, it’s the mirror selfie that has claimed the largest amount of storage space on my phone over the years. Let me explain.
The Devil Wears Prada may tell you that fashion editors get ready in the morning in a serene blur of stockings, pencil skirts and Chanel No 5, however my experience has always been a bit more Andy Sachs – that is to say, rushed and coffee-fuelled – so anything that saves me time is a godsend. So about a decade ago, I started to record the outfits that I loved on a week-to-week basis – be it a fun colour combination or satisfying shoe choice – and they became an easy and instant source of inspiration on those “I have nothing to wear” days.
A few years later, this collection of photos became a dedicated “outfits” folder on my phone – a sort of digitised mood board that chronicled my styling choices over the years. Like Cher’s wardrobe technology in Clueless, but without the dodgy ’90s graphics. Soon the folder expanded to include get-ups I saw in magazine editorials or winning looks on Instagram, celebrity ensembles, or even the odd screenshot from a Noughties romcom.
These outfit recordings remain instrumental to my understanding of what I actually wear on a day-to-day basis. I’ve always believed that knowing the idiosyncrasies of your personal style is central to making better, and more sustainable, fashion choices – having the confidence to ignore trends and invest in pieces you’ll treasure for years to come. Scrolling through my iPhone outfit database, I can instantly see the individual pieces or outfit pairings I return to again and again: the blazer and jeans, the statement bag, the heeled boot. It also reminds me of what I already have in my wardrobe, so when I’m shopping for a new piece, I can see where the gaps lie.
So what have I learnt through my many years of mirror selfie-taking? Below, I have pulled out four themes that crop up again and again, from my go-to colour palette to the power of a winning vintage find. However I would recommend figuring out your own recording method, whether it’s a photo folder or downloading a wardrobe organisation app (an old colleague of mine used to plan all her outfits for the week using an app – yes really). Happy birthday to the selfie.
Everyone has that outfit they turn to on a weekly and monthly basis – a sartorial comfort blanket that takes 30 seconds to throw on in the morning when your brain is running at half-speed. For me, it has to be the blazer-and-jeans pairing, whether it’s Filippa K’s sharp-shouldered brown iteration with a pair of slouchy wide-leg jeans or my favourite vintage tuxedo blazer with Junya Watanabe’s patchwork denim. I’ll often add a simple base-layer – a white tee or shirt – then finish the look with either a polished flat or heeled boot.
A good accessory can make an outfit
I’ve never been one of those Carrie Bradshaw girls who obsesses over shoes and bags (I’m more of a jacket collector), however working in fashion over the years has shown me the importance of a well-chosen accessory. I don’t tend to wear a lot of prinst, and only the odd pop of colour, so I like to use my accessories to add interest to an outfit – whether it’s a metallic shoe, vintage chain belt or vibrant baguette bag. My current favourite is a JW Anderson bumper bag that I nabbed in the Matches sale and a pair of Cos silver kitten heels.
Vintage is an easy way to add interest
Anyone who knows me will tell you that I spend an inordinate amount of time secondhand shopping, but for me it’s a no-brainer – aside from the sustainability considerations, I’ve always found that a pre-loved piece is often an easy shortcut to adding more personality to an outfit. One of my favourite vintage skirts comes in a statement orange check and instantly elevates a simple grey crew neck, while a vintage utility flight suit, which takes seconds to style, always prompts questions about where it’s from. It’s all about mixing the old with the new.
Monochrome is a classic for a reason
A fashion editor wearing black and white? Groundbreaking. Yet, as they say, if it ain’t broke. The good thing about monochrome is that it can become an easy uniform to throw on at a moment’s notice – you don’t have to put much thought into complementary colour pairings or the “right” sort of print clash. There’s a reason it became the signature look of Coco Chanel. Right now I love a cream-coloured tailored trouser with a black blazer or an all-black ensemble that comprises a variety of textures: think patent leather with soft wool.