In the closet with Lucy Worsley
Sunday Express 'S' Magazine, 9 January 2012
The TV historian takes her pick from fashion’s back catalogue – whether it’s Sixties shift dresses or Anglo Saxon armour
Words and styling by Charlie Wells
Author and presenter Lucy, 38, is Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces – the charity that looks after the Tower of London and Hampton Court Palace. She lives in London with her partner Mark, an architect.
How would you describe your style? Friendly and approachable with a slight historical twist. I’m not saying that’s what it is, but that’s what I strive for.
Which colours and shapes suit you best? I definitely prefer to wear dresses and skirts, rather than trousers, as they give you far more freedom to move about. I wear a lot of bright colours because that’s what they like on TV and it’s also better for going out and about, meeting visitors and giving talks. But left to myself I’d wear beige or black. In terms of shapes, I like Sixties-style shift dresses with cardigans.
Are you a dedicated follower of fashion or do you just wear what suits you? I wear what I feel most most comfortable in and what’s practical.
What is your favourite fashion era? The 1930s – the flapper once she’s grown up and become a bit more responsible.
Do you have a stylist? No, although TV directors are always dressing me up. I’ve appeared as a Georgian lady, a medieval peasant, an Anglo-Saxon warrior, a Victorian housemaid – I can’t afford to be too precious about what I wear on screen.
Who is your style icon? Nancy Mitford, the eldest of the famous Mitford sisters and one of the original Bright Young Things of the 1930s. She was always very well turned out. I think that she may have paid a bit too much attention to style – she would do an awful lot to achieve a particular look. There’s something quite brittle about her style, but it’s glittering and wonderful at the same time.
What is your best feature? I’ve got lovely little ears. I’m often complimented upon them but, unfortunately, they’re hidden under my hair. Another good feature is my very long eyelashes. I know that because the optician says that they get tangled up in the machinery they use to check your sight.
What is your biggest fashion no-no? Trousers. I don’t own any – not even jeans – although in terms of the history of female empowerment, the trouser is a very important garment.
What is your best beauty secret? It’s a bit disgusting, but since they brought in HD television I have an electric nasal hair trimmer. It’s great.
What is the most expensive thing in your wardrobe and how much did it cost? A red Jaegar coat and a teal-blue coat from Hoss. I can’t remember how much they were but it was a lot. Viewers often write to me asking where I got my blue coat.
How much do you spend on clothes each month? I don’t spend much on clothes at all. I’m very parsimonious.
Are you a hoarder or do you clear out your wardrobe each season? I would naturally be a hoarder but because I live in basically a one-room flat, I get rid of stuff all the time.
Primark or Prada? Neither. I don’t like Primark’s disposable attitude to fashion – that seems wasteful. But Prada seems wasteful in another sense – it’s too much money. I’m a middle-of-the-road shopper.
Which is your favourite high-street store? I do a lot of internet shopping from John Lewis, which is great as they do free delivery. Hobbs and LK Bennett are both good for me, too.
How many shoes and handbags do you own? I’ve got one handbag from John Lewis but I hardly ever use it because it’s too heavy. I prefer my backpack as I’m always carrying around books, computers and cameras for work. In terms of shoes, I don’t think I have a wild number, although I guess more than I need. Maybe about 20 pairs – I sound like Marie Antoinette, don’t I?
What is your favourite piece of jewellery? I love all 1930s style jewellery, necklaces and hair-clips. I have some great sparkly things from that period that my friends have given me.
What is currently on your lust list? I’d like a big down coat for winter filming. I have one but it’s white and make-up gets all over it and its disgusting. A red one would be better, with some handwarmers.
What is the best fashion advice you have ever been given? I’ve discovered that there’s nothing trivial about fashion. As a historian you learn that clothes are very important and tell a lot about a person – their education, their position within society and their taste. Clothes are a brilliant window on the past.
If Walls Could Talk by Lucy Worsley (Faber, £9.99) is out now.
© 2013 Lucy Worsley