Mel Roets talked about her laid back cool in last week’s interview. This week, bride-to-be, Patrice Jones, talks about her Mad Men-inspired wardrobe, and the dress that changed her life.
There’s a great quote by 1960s artist, Richard Merkin:
“People today want approval for the way they dress, which is the kiss of death. You can’t really do your own thing unless you know who you are. I think there is a very delicate kind of merger between your clothes and your personality, a give and take between who you are and what you are wearing.”
Enter Patrice Jones.
“I know what’s me. That theme runs through my whole wardrobe,” she says. “I know my shape and what suits me. I’m really comfortable with my body.”
I ask Patrice if her style is learned or instinctive. “It’s both,” she’s quick to say. “I do have a knack for clothes. I read a lot of fashion magazines and blogs to learn what shapes suit what bodies. But it’s also instinctive – just going with what feels right.”
As for style inspiration, her grandmother was her muse. “She was a seamstress who made all her own clothes, even her lingerie. Her style was very Mad Men – kitten heels, gloves, beautiful jewellery and shaped dresses. She always made an effort. That’s important to me – making an effort.”
Interestingly, Patrice’s wardrobe has lots of different looks, not just the 1950s style that suits her shape and personality so well. “My clothes say that I’m feminine, playful and girly,” she says. That knowledge, as a kind of core, allows her to experiment with different styles and still look true to herself.
“I’ve learned to feel confident in my style – when I go with my instinct, I know the shapes and colours that will make me feel amazing.” Knowing who she is gives her the courage to step outside her sartorial comfort zone. “I’m getting married next year, and my dress isn’t what I originally imagined it might be. I’m going to have a real princess moment. I’m taking a risk, and I’m proud of myself for that.”
She’s beaming when she talks about her fiancé Phil, and ‘the dress.’ Words that come to mind when I’m chatting with Patrice: romantic, ladylike, vintage, yet totally modern. Grown-up girly. Old Hollywood, but so down to earth and accessible. Ease. And that smile….
Something tells me that she’ll pull off that princess look just beautifully.
Biggest wardrobe disaster? “I went through a shell-suit phase in the 1980s and 90s – with big hair too. What was I thinking? Just horrible!”
Best outfit ever? “I bought a beautiful grey silk dress from a market – very 50s, with a nipped-in waist and a full skirt. Usually, I’d have walked right by that dress. I had been really unhappy in my marriage for the past three years, and wore dowdy things to cover myself up. I’d lost who Patrice was. When I left my husband, I started to find myself again. I was shopping for a Christmas party outfit for work when I tried that dress on. I looked in the mirror and it was a true Cinderella moment, like I was reborn. That dress was a turning point for me – I thought ‘I’m back – this is ME!’ At the party, person after person said how amazing I looked! From then on, I started dressing differently.”
Top tip for women looking for their own style? “Get to know your body shape and proportions, and don’t slavishly follow trends that don’t suit you. Read fashion magazines and blogs for the how-to, but then think about what you will really love wearing. Follow your instinct and experiment.”
Patrice in “the dress that changed my life.”
Next week, Avril Charnock on what happens to your style when you retire…