Like the rest of the nation, I have been hooked on the Shakespearean plot line that is series two of The Traitors. Partly for ‘Ar Diane’s’ story arc and partly for Claudia Winkleman’s amazing wardrobe.
Did we not, as a nation, collectively gasp at that oversized red polo neck by Mr Mittens on episode nine, turning to each other and saying in unison: ‘That is a great jumper.’ It helps that her stint on the hit show has coincided with a cold snap. ‘Tis the perfect time for a cable knit.
The look is, according to her stylist Sinead McKeefry, part Princess Anne/part Lady Amanda Harlech/part Ronnie Corbett, which – I don’t know if it’s my age – sounds strangely appealing. So, unable to think of little else (it is, after all, the 75th day of January), I decided to try dressing like Claudia for a week. Is it as fun as it looks? Spoiler: absolutely.
Day 1: Camel and cuffs
For my first look, I paired THEE actual shirt Claudia wore from ME + EM (with diamanté buttons and lovely flouncy sleeves – it's sadly now sold out, but the brand does similar options) with some skinny Spanx leggings (comfort first - no hard trouser here), Dr. Marten boots (albeit a slightly different style to Claudia's Chelsea boots) and a John Smedley camel cardigan, which was a lot cheaper than the one Clauds wore from The Row.
This look was a dream to wear. Cosy but a little bit fancy thanks to the gorgeous ME + EM blouse. I added a trench coat for my lunchtime trip to Pret – for warmth and effect. A colleague told me it suited me. I dabbled with trying to talk my hairdresser into giving me a fringe again (he flat out refuses, citing cowlicks and previous ill-fated attempts). I was buoyed by the early success.
Day 2: Funeral chic
In honour of ar Diane, I donned my YSL-inspired smoking jacket, Spanx leggings (again), DMs (this wardrobe has more than a whiff of capsule about it), and white blouse with velvet pussy bow (mine is last season Boden, but ME + EM does a luxe one and Albaray does a more affordable version). I decided a veil was probably too much for a Tuesday in the office and to be honest, I was too late to get one on Amazon Prime (I did look into it). However, I accessorised with some fingerless gloves instead.
Sadly, my outfit lacked the drama of Claudia’s slow funeral march (in hindsight, maybe I needed the cane?), but I loved the mix of glamour and grunge and you can’t go wrong with a bit of monochrome tailoring. This would make the perfect low-key night out look. Just add a red lip and lashings of eye liner.
Day 3: Ronnie Corbett meets goth
My top half looks like it’s off for a round of golf, my bottom half is stuck in my indie era. I admit I'm starting to get a tiny bit bored of the black Spanx skinnies (this time, I've changed them up for a jegging style, which feels slightly less revealing, although I am forced to confront my deep-rooted dislike of jeggings.)
Skinny jean trauma aside, this is a failsafe office look. The checked knit would also work with a pair of wide-leg pinstripe trousers and loafers if you, like me, prefer a looser trouser and want to make a break from the ankle boot.
Day 4: Feeling kilty
Claudia opted for a white chunky knit and a kilt from the aptly named Le Kilt along with her faithful DM boots for episode eight. I decide to go for a similar silhouette, but can't get a kilt at short notice (who can?), so switch in a tweed mini from & Other Stories and a cream knit, with some thick tights and the prerequisite stompy boots.
I liked this more playful look and thanks to the tights and thick jumper, it was seriously warm – to the point where I had to take the jumper off in the office loo to cool down at one point. So, you can add built-in central heating to the list of pros for this outfit. The boots also stop it from being too girly, adding a little Traitor grit.
Day 5: Print on print
There isn’t much call for wellies in central London, but I committed to the look nevertheless. Never say I don't suffer for my art. I loved this clashing print look from episode three, featuring a fair isle Brora cashmere knit and trousers tucked into some classic green wellies.
But because Brora is slightly out of my price bracket (unless there’s a very good sale and a fair wind), I opt instead for a pair of checked trousers from M&S with a slightly festive knit from Hush, which was deliciously cosy. In reality, I'd swap the wellies out for some white trainers. This is print clashing made easy.
I suspect the reason we're all so infatuated with Claudia's Traitors styling is its combination of practicality and accessibility with a hint of whimsy. “She's keeping it real and wearing our dream winter wardrobe,” says GH's fashion director Amanda Marcantonio. “It's Balmoral by day, sexy vampire by night. She gives a punk-twist to country classics including heritage checks, oversized cable knits, wool blazers, wellies, and not forgetting her fingerless gloves, last seen on Harold in Steptoe & Son in 1962.
“She has perfected the art of the high-low mix. Jewelled velvet knee-length dresses dressed down with chunky black boots (her favourite Dr. Martens) and black opaque tights (let’s face it, castles are cold). If dresses are not your thing, Claudia’s grown-up gothic velvet blazers and leggings worn with white vampy blouses feel sexy, spellbinding and dressed up.”
The only flaw in this otherwise perfect wardrobe is that it's best suited to wandering Scottish moors on freezing winter days. I'm not sure it translates to mid-summer in London Town because it's all about the cosy accessories, boots and knits.
Claudia is clearly a cold-weather dresser. I suspect she stays moth-balled until September when you can legitimately wear sequins without people giving you concerned looks on public transport.
So, I guess I'll have to find a new fashion muse for summer. Or, I'll just hibernate from May to September and re-emerge like a goth butterfly in the autumn, ready for warm girl winter and series three of The Traitors. I genuinely can't wait.
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