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A stylish summer

Exposed fashion blogger Kate discusses personal style with Sheffield-based content creator Fern Merrills.

I’ve been thinking a lot about personal style lately – why we choose the clothes we do, and what our style says about us.

My friend and colleague Fern seems to have an innate sense of style; I’ll be honest, I want to raid her wardrobe. Her look is polished, contemporary and always on-trend, but whatever she pulls together is unique to her. She exemplifies the knack of looking current whilst also wearing things your own way.

One beautiful warm weekend – just before summer 2017 inexplicably upped and left us – Fern and I landed the perfect weather to stroll round pretty Nether Edge and shoot some of her favourite summer looks, styled around two key pieces.

Fern also talked me through what personal style means to her, her must-have items and how she takes the stress out of early morning outfit dilemmas!

Photographs: Kate

Styling: Fern

The bardot top

Fern paired her tropical print bardot crop top with black high waisted culottes, whilst red slingback ballet pumps give another pop of sophisticated colour. Pretty patterned scarves from Zara make chic additions to her Mulberry Bayswater handbag, and tied in her hair.

 

How would you describe your personal style?

“Versatile and classic. Whenever I put a new outfit together, I try to imagine how the future me would feel about it if she saw the past me wearing it in a photograph. If I think it’ll look dated within a couple of years, it’s probably a waste of money.

“Having said that, I do enjoy experimenting with trends from time to time, especially when it’s not hugely expensive! Remember last autumn’s bootstrap chokers you could get for a pound on ebay?!

“And if something I really love comes into fashion for a season, I’ll be all over it – let’s just say I currently own around 12 bardot style tops…”

What items or aesthetics are you always drawn to? 

“I can’t think of one thing I’m consistently drawn to. It’s more of a feeling of the way certain things click together.

“When we wear something, we’re communicating something about ourselves – clothes can be as loaded with meaning as words. It’s like poetry; those diversions and subtle details that really make an outfit: ‘normcore’ sneakers with a fancy skirt; a chunky cocktail necklace over a baggy grey t-shirt; a soft, slouchy jumper dress with bare legs and biker boots.”

What are the items you always rely on to pull an outfit together?

“I think everyone should own at least three blazers, one in black or navy, one brown and one neutral or white. They’re great for smartening up a pair of skinny jeans for work or throwing on over an little black dress for a night out.

“The one item I would love to own? A Balmain blazer.”

Do you have any wardrobe hacks that help you stay creative with your styling?

“Creating a capsule wardrobe really took the stress out of dressing. In fact, in a strange way, paring down my day-to-day wardrobe to few key items (basic tees, skinny jeans, a few blazers) encouraged me to be more creative with the way I put things together and incorporate accessories. It’s actually really liberating.  

“I currently have two wardrobes and an open rail. I actually think this is a bit excessive and I’m in the process of sorting through it all. But having a wardrobe for all your out-of-season or special occasion stuff and keeping your day-to-day collection out in the open is definitely the way to go. It’s made getting dressed really easy and has helped me identify the kind of clothes I actually enjoy wearing, which helps when it comes to buying new stuff.”

The midi prom skirt

Day-to-night looks can be tricky to get right, but Fern’s playful midi prom skirt looks great dressed up or down. She’s layered a light slouchy sweater over her black crop top, which, worn on its own, gives the option of a cool twist for the evening.

Do you have a favourite go-to label?

“I tend to mix and match. I’d say ASOS, H&M and Zara are my current favourite high street brands. I’m happy to spend a bit more on core pieces, like my favourite skinny jeans which are, quite honestly, a masterpiece by Hiut Denim. I also splurged on my Mulberry handbag, but I generally try not to get drawn into the hype of designer ‘it’ pieces.”

And one last thing: can you remember one item you really loved wearing, back-in-the-day?

“When I was 13 I went to the Clothes Show Live wearing a pair of (very) low slung, bell bottom Miss Sixty jeans that had the phrase ‘Good Luck’ written across the front in patchwork letters. I felt ace. I don’t know what happened to them…”

Fern is a Sheffield-based content creator.

She co-authors and photographs for lifestyle blog The All Night Listening Post alongside her partner, Arran. Together, they also run Department Two, a content creation and story-telling agency. 

Follow Fern on Instagram @leafyfern

See Fern’s writing and photography at The All Night Listening Post

Follow Exposed style blogger Kate on Instagram @thelittlechic

Where to buy

Outfit 1

Black high waisted culottesPrettyLittleThing

Tropical print ‘Bardot’ crop topASOS

Bag: Mulberry Small Bayswater in ‘Dune’

Scarves worn on bag handle and in hair: Zara

Red suedette sling back ballet pumpsNew Look

Outfit 2

Midi prom skirt, Closet London – bought from ASOS

Tan belt: ASOS

Bag – Furla Mini Metropolis

Red slingback pumps, as before

Light pink cropped jumper, H&M

Crop top, a bargain shop in New York

Rose gold charm bracelet: John lewis

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