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Meet Stylist Emma Slade - #StylistsWeLove

By Kal Di Paola on Sep 04 2013

Emma is the founder of Back of the Wardrobe - a thoughtful new approach to styling that offers clients the opportunity to make more of what they’ve already got in their wardrobe. The experience she delivers is bespoke to each and every lady or gent, and she works to create new outfits from existing clothes. It’s quite simple - old clothes, new ways of wearing them. It’s all about teaming items that you would never normally put together yourself. Emma promotes clothing re-use and pre-loved clothing and really goes gooey eyed over some lux vintage. When she’s not helping her clients to best dress for their body shape or filling ladies with newly found confidence through a clever combination of clothes and chat, she can often be found devising and styling at fashion events and has worked with Judy’s Vintage Fairs, Old Spitalfields Events and Trinity Hospice.

Q. Do you have any views on fashion and sustainability?

Thoughtful, feel good fashion choices are at the heart of what I do as a personal stylist. Sustainability in fashion is something I am wholeheartedly behind, so when I developed my styling concept I wanted to ensure that I could teach people how to better use what they already have, both in terms of their existing wardrobe, their body shape and the way they express their personality. And to me, thoughtful fashion doesn’t mean you should never ever buy anything new. That’s unrealistic. It just means making sure that every now and again you try to use the skills- I aim to share to look at your existing clothes with fresh eyes, to see what fun new outfit you can whip up by putting things together differently…And if it really is a loveless relationship for said item in wardrobe (I’ll admit, sometimes relationships break down and there’s nothing you can do to save them). Well in this case, personally, I would love to see that item have a new life with another loving owner.

Q. Have you always had a love for fashion and what did fashion mean to you growing up?

I suppose it’s a stylist’s taboo to admit that I discovered fashion a little late in the day. I was bookish as oppose to popular, so my childhood was a bit more Austen and music lessons than it was mini skirts and fashion mags. What got me into fashion was actually my mum’s hand me downs. When I was fourteen she started giving me dresses she had bought at designer sample sales in her twenties, 80’s stretchy waist cinching belts and denim cut off skirts. I was quite a bit curvier than my mum would have been at fourteen comparatively, so I fit into it all and people were constantly asking where I had bought my stuff. I think that’s where my affair with pre-loved clothing and experimenting with fashion began. My poor mum couldn’t stop me from raiding her wardrobe. These days I’ve graduated to my Nan’s wardrobe. She offered me her winter coat the other day. It’s a beautiful 1960’s rustic orangey red colour with black fur cuffs and collar. I am ashamed to say, I took it off her hands no questions asked.

Q. Describe your personal style?

I’m a bit of a chameleon. I like to mix and match and change things up all the time. I think there is an outfit for every occasion and like to live that philosophy. I’d describe my style as a happy go lucky mix of genres. You might for example find afro-centric chic, some heritage and a little bit of rock mixed into one look. For me, it’s all about expressing how I feel or achieving what I want to convey for any given situation. Rather embarrassingly, the friends I live with will tell you that I often ask them - ‘so what’s this outfit saying to you?’

Q. If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?

We all have things about our body that we would change but far better to dress more appropriately for our shape to avoid drawing attention to these things and increase confidence, than to spend time worrying about them. Between us, the bit of my body that I love to hate is my arms. I have chubby baby arms….

Q. What are the highlights and the lowlights of your job?

The highlight of my job is definitely seeing someone really thrilled with their outfits at the end of a session, or receiving a thank you picture text from someone wearing an outfit I inspired. It’s nice to think you’ve altered someone’s perspective on style, or the way they see themselves in the mirror. It’s surprising how a few pointers on body shape best fit or a new take on how to team items together, can alter the way someone feels about himself or herself when they go to get ready in the morning. Styling sessions really are a little bit like therapy, for both parties.

A recent thing that definitely classes as a low point was being told by a client I styled how she worries about her eleven year old daughters sense of self, as she’s inevitably bombarded with all the un-realistic media examples of how young girls should look and dress. Very sad.

Q. What would you pick as a soundtrack to your life right now?

Groove is in the heart – Deee - Lite

Keep an eye out for Emma's next project with Oxfam which see’s her challenging herself to recreate the London Fashion Week Looks, in an Oxfam charity shop using only Oxfam clothing, just moments after watching the live stream.

Here’s last year’s event pics to give you a taste.