"Style is a confidence tool": Katie Piper talks fashion, finding a work/life balance and faking it 'til she makes it

Katie Piper has launched her own clothing range [Photo: Dan Kennedy]
Katie Piper has launched her own clothing range [Photo: Dan Kennedy]

There have been many words used to describe Katie Piper over the years. Inspirational, determined, brave to name but a few. But now the 33-year-old is hoping to add another to the list… entrepreneurial.

It’s likely you’ll know Katie’s story: In 2008 she was the victim of a horrific acid attack, which left her partially blind, severely burned and with lifelong scarring.

For most people, what happened (and the 300 plus surgical procedures she’s since endured) would likely have put the breakers on any professional dreams. But Katie isn’t most people. Since the attack Katie has made several documentaries about her recovery, written books about confidence and positive thinking, hosted television shows about body acceptance. She’s also set up the Katie Piper Foundation, a charitable organisation that supports burn victims and people living with disfiguring injuries.

So far, so inspirational. But there was one dream still to be ticked off her to-do list – her own clothing range. Throughout her recovery Katie has used fashion as a way of defining and then redefining who she is. “No matter what has happened in my life and what stages I’ve been through right up to motherhood, fashion has been a big part of how I’ve expressed myself,” she tells Yahoo Style UK. “I’ve used it to keep control of my identity. I’ve used it to be more assertive. I’ve used it to recreate who I am.”

And now as she launches her debut clothing collection with e-retailer Want That Trend.com, Katie is hoping to help encourage other women to use style as a way of bolstering their own body confidence.

Here, Katie shares her top tips for juggling a busy career with motherhood (she’s mum to daughter, Belle, three), confidence hacks for ‘meh’ days and why she wants women to use fashion to fake it ’til they make it.

Fashion = freedom. Style and emotions are massively linked. How you dress that day reflects how you felt that morning when you woke up. When you wear black we might want to be a bit invisible, maybe we’re having a bit of a rubbish day. When we’re wearing bright colours, more revealing clothes we’re happy for attention to express ourselves. I have a massive belief in not saving your best clothes for just birthdays and nights out. I’ll wake up on a Monday and wear a really nice outfit. Put it on, wear it, wash it and then wear it again for the special occasion. Wearing good stuff makes you feel good, it’s a fail safe thing to do.

Katie says motherhood has altered her style [Photo: Dan Kennedy]
Katie says motherhood has altered her style [Photo: Dan Kennedy]

Motherhood has definitely altered my style. The reality is that you do have to dress a little bit more practical – you can’t run around in six inch heels after a toddler. And obviously it’s quite hard to tone up again after having a baby. But there’s a separate side to it because when you do get that babysitter and you’re finally going out, you want to dress up because you know that’s going to be your only night out for the next six weeks. It suddenly becomes more important to make an effort on those stolen moments that you do get.

It’s been quite a style journey. When I look back at old photos I really cringe. I thought I looked amazing at the time! Obviously some of that is to do with trends changing, but as I’ve got older I’ve realised what does and doesn’t work for me. I don’t necessarily follow all the trends I choose things that suit my body shape or the colours that suit me. I like to dress feminine but sophisticated and stylish so that was kind of the vision for the whole collection.

I’m a big believer in disposable fashion. It’s good to be able to dip into those trends that you like and not have to stick it all on a credit card and spend loads of money. I don’t want to be buying £200/300 dresses and not wearing them again. If you go for simplicity in the things you pick they still look expensive. And it’s that knack of knowing how to do it and how to style it. Now I’m older I go for simplicity, so not trying to make everything a feature and not trying to have loads of faff over the outfit and that’s what I’ve tried to do with the range.

Katie credits fashion with helping her redefine herself [Photo: Dan Kennedy]
Katie credits fashion with helping her redefine herself [Photo: Dan Kennedy]

Be the best version of you that you can be. I spent my younger years always worrying should I be taller, should I be smaller, should I have bigger boobs? But actually there’s no template or aspirational point we should all look to because we’re all different. I’m never going to be a long-legged willowy person and that’s not a bad thing it’s just my genetics. It’s about accepting who you are, accepting the things you cannot change and changing the things you can.

Have the pudding. I’ve learnt that if I eat a balanced diet and exercise it has a placebo effect and I psychologically feel better. I don’t like being a prisoner to diets and machines. Tonight I’m going out for a work dinner and I want to have a glass of wine and a pudding and I’m going to. But I will earn it, so today or tomorrow I will go for a run. So I’ve got that run in the bank that allows me to have the chocolate lava cake tonight. It’s a bit miserable if you have to cut everything out. What’s the point of life if you can’t have the pudding?

Fake it ’til you make it. When you put on certain outfits you give a message to the world. If you’re going for an interview you’ll subconsciously dress smart, sharp, assertive because you’re trying to tell that person that you’re capable, intelligent and you’re the right person for the job. But I think it works in all our outfits. I’m certainly a different person in a stained grey tracksuit to who I am in one of the dresses from my range. I really think it does make a difference to how we project ourselves.

The new range with Want That Trend.Com contains 36 key pieces [[Photo: Dan Kennedy]
The new range with Want That Trend.Com contains 36 key pieces [[Photo: Dan Kennedy]

Do a negativity detox. There are certain people that don’t serve you well, energy vampires who drain you and sometimes we just keep it going and we shouldn’t. It’s important to have a good cull every now and then. Go on Twitter and unfollow those people. You clean up the house, you’ve got to clean up that part of your life as well. Negativity is something you have to make a conscious effort not to have in your life.

My mantra for the year is learn to say no. I have probably got my highest level of self-esteem and self-worth at the moment. I know more about myself who I am, I know what I like and don’t like. So this year I’m working on saying no. It is actually really hard to do it, in a kind, non-mean way, but also in a firm, assertive way. But when I do it, it’s really empowering.

Find the positives in the negative. There was this really lovely affirmation online about focussing on the people who are helping and putting everyone back together whenever you see disaster or trauma. It’s a really good way at looking at life. We always highlight the bad, but this is about holding onto the fact that more often than not the good outweighs the bad.

The 33-year-old believes she's at her most style confident right now [Photo: Dan Kennedy]
The 33-year-old believes she’s at her most style confident right now [Photo: Dan Kennedy]

I’m still searching for the perfect work/life balance. Sometimes I’ll get stuck in traffic and miss bedtime and I’ll feel really guilty but you have to remind yourself that I’m trying to create a legacy for my daughter, and I’ll have time with her at the weekend. It’s about trying to drag yourself back from the guilt. Because there’s no point in doing stuff and then beating yourself up about it.

Find a positive role model. I work with a lot of inspirational women behind the scenes who also have families. Trustees of charities, they’re like CEOs but they have three or four kids. And that inspires me to know that it is possible. On the days when I feel tired or that I haven’t balanced the time enough, I think well these women have been doing it for 25 years, so I try not to be too hard on myself.

Never stop learning. I listen to a lot of audio books because I don’t have time to read and I learn new stuff all the time. We’re so conditioned just to learn at school and then that’s it. I’ve learnt so many new skills in my 30s that I didn’t have in my 20s that has enriched my life, made me a lot happier and more successful.

Katie is launching the range with Victoria Molyneux, Founder of Want That Trend.Com [Photo: Dan Kennedy]
Katie is launching the range with Victoria Molyneux, Founder of Want That Trend.Com [Photo: Dan Kennedy]

Leave the past in the past. One of the hardest hurdles I’ve faced is the fact that some people have a tendency to try and pull me back to talking about all things that have happened to me and some of that can be slightly wearing. I have to build an extra layer of resilience and thick skin in coping mechanisms. But I’m hoping its something that I’m gradually leaving behind. And learning to say no is helping. When things are making you feel uncomfortable or you’re not enjoying them anymore, it’s about having the courage to say this is not good for me. It’s easier said than done but with more practice and repetition it becomes natural and people will respect you for it.

Make the most of your opportunities. I often have pinch-yourself moments where I think I am so lucky to be doing this and to have this platform to communicate about things I’m passionate about. But I’m also mindful that these things can be taken away really easily. Its about appreciating those moments and working really hard whilst you’ve got that opportunity because looking back in five years time you’ll want to know that you gave it your all.

We're LIVE with Katie Piper as she launches her debut fashion collection with Want That Trend. Post your questions below!

Posted by Yahoo UK & Ireland on Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Katie Piper Collection with Want That Trend.Com is available at www.wantthattrend.com

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