Style secrets from the ad industry's fashionistas

The advertising and fashion industries share many similarities, but what about the notion of creativity? Kate Magee talks to some of the sharpest dressers in adland about their own take on style.

Mary Portas
Mary Portas

Is the fashion industry still a powerful creative force?

Not according to Sir John Hegarty, the founder of Bartle Bogle Hegarty, who believes much of current fashion is just "meaningless imitation".

"The danger for the fashion industry is that it follows," he told an audience of fashion professionals last week at the launch of Stylus Fashion.

He went on to encourage the group – which included representatives from Lulu Guinness, Anya Hindmarch, Topshop and ASOS – to take a bolder approach to creativity.

"You have to be different – you may not be right, but at least people will listen to
you," he said.

Being bold and different are not traits those working in advertising lack, as the riot of colour from WCRS’s Robin Wight will attest.

So, as the great and the good of the fashion world get ready for London Fashion Week, we asked some of the industry’s most stylish dressers for their wardrobe secrets.

Mary Portas

Chief creative officer, Portas

What is your signature item?
My bob.

What would you wear to an important meeting with a potential client?
Whatever makes me feel good that day. Generally, sleek and lean.

What would impress you, sartorially speaking, in an interview with a prospective member of staff?
Usually, a take on an outfit I hadn’t thought of. I had a great interviewee who wore vintage Raf Simons with Lego accessories.

What fashion item would you like to ban?
Ugg boots. Crocs. G-strings. Anatomically revealing leggings.

What is the most embarrassing outfit you have ever worn?
My dad dressed me as a packet of fags for the Brownies’ fancy-dress competition.

What is your style advice?
Keep it simple. Don’t look at the size – wear what fits.

Lisa Thomas

Group chief executive, M&C Saatchi

What is your signature item?
My shoes attract a lot of comments. I tend to wear Isabel Marant and Prada, and the summer shoes at Zara are great.

What would you wear to an important meeting with a potential client?
Almost always a dress – the colour and length would depend on the client. I have a black wool Stella McCartney dress that I love and has proved lucky, so that would be top of the list.

What would impress you, sartorially speaking, in an interview with a prospective member of staff?
Statement shoes catch my eye – whether it be the style, colour, heel height etc. They say something about that person that isn’t on their CV.

What fashion item would you like to ban?
Kitten heels.

What is the most embarrassing outfit you have ever worn?
I once went to an 80s party as Kim Wilde – which was fine in theory, except for being eight months pregnant. So it was less 80s pop and more "about to pop".

What is your style advice?
Keep it simple – focus on creating strong, clean lines. Work out what colours suit you and stay away from patterns and stripes.

Katie Mackay

Joint head of strategy, Mother

What is your signature item?
Gosh, that’s impossible to answer! If I had to, I would say my red Lego heart necklace.

What would you wear to an important meeting with a potential client?
The same as ever: a brightly coloured, multi-patterned ensemble with interesting hosiery and some statement jewellery.

What would impress you, sartorially speaking, in an interview with a prospective member of staff?
Personality. I always get a thrill from meeting people who clearly get a real joy from expressing themselves sartorially.

What fashion item would you like to ban?
Crocs.

What is the most embarrassing outfit you have ever worn?
Jeans, a plain white T-shirt and white plimsolls. No colour, no pattern and no accessories. It was for a friend’s daughter’s art A-level project and I hated every minute of it.

What is your style advice?
Don’t be scared of colour, pattern or print – a wee bit has a brilliant impact on the way you feel and the way others feel around you.

Cilla Snowball

Group chairman and group chief executive, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO

What is your signature item?
My favourite item is a gorgeous Bottega Veneta clutch bag that was given to me by the Marketing Group of Great Britain at the end of my year as chair. It comes out at every black-tie do and I love it.  

What would you wear to an important meeting with a potential client?
You would probably find me in the usual little black dress option. If I venture into colour, I might check in with [the AMV joint head of planning] Bridget Angear. We like the same things.

What would impress you, sartorially speaking, in an interview with a prospective member of staff?
It has never been an issue. The people who come for interviews at AMV usually look and sound amazing, having made a real effort with both how they look and how they come across.

What fashion item would you like to ban?
The velour tracksuit.

What is the most embarrassing outfit you have ever worn?
I once owned a dress that was held together at the back by a huge, full-length zip. After one particularly serious malfunction, I found myself having to dash home to change with both hands behind me, desperately pinning the edges together for dear life.

What is your style advice?
I had to deal with BBDO Asia’s Chris Thomas pretty promptly when he started wearing his BlackBerry on a belt attachment. He has a gadget-man streak that needs to be kept under tight supervision.

Mark Boyd

Founder, Gravity Road

What is your signature item?
Bright socks.

What would you wear to an important meeting with a potential client?
An asymmetrical Marc Jacobs shirt, blue jeans. Metallic trainers – I predict they will be massive in 2016 spring/summer collections. And my lucky pitching pants.

What would impress you, sartorially speaking, in an interview with a prospective member of staff?
Three words: Comme des Garçons. Or that they wore something I wanted to wear.

What fashion item would you like to ban?
Sleeveless bodywarmers.

What is the most embarrassing outfit you have ever worn?
I bought a tartan Crombie jacket off Savile Row in a backstreet tailors. After a crap afternoon, I returned to buy the matching trousers. I wore both to work the next day. Reactions were mixed. I don’t remember any being positive.

What is your style advice?
We filmed with Vivienne Westwood and I have treasured her advice. Cheap fashion is a false economy. Buy an expensive designer piece such as a jacket, accessorise with staples and basics. Tear an old curtain down and use it as a scarf over the jacket. Experiment. Have fun.

Robin Wight

Chairman, WCRS

What is your signature item?
My new Ozwald Boateng dinner jacket. Intense purple with a shimmering metallic lapel. The most expensive piece of clothing I ever bought – originally for my wedding – and now on display every month in The Thirty Club.

What would you wear to an important meeting with a potential client?
An Ozwald Boateng purple suit and a clashing Richard James shirt. And my patent red Huge Boss wedding shoes – for luck.

What would impress you, sartorially speaking, in an interview with a prospective member of staff?

Someone who had the courage to express their individuality through what they wore.

What fashion item would you like to ban?
The tie.

What is the most embarrassing outfit you have ever worn?
I’m never embarrassed by anything I wear.

What is your style advice?
If your clothing looks like everyone else’s, you signal that you are like everyone else. Dress creatively – creative people have twice the mating success of non-creative people.

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