This week we talk to Julia Ford, designer and director of label Sweepstake Winners and creative director for Kathryn Wilson shoes, about why Levi’s 501 jeans are a wardrobe staple, the reason she’s embraced a more casual dress style, and dressing for the mood you want.
How would you describe your personal style?
I would say my personal style is put-together and polished but always with a sense of humour, never too serious…and usually with a strong ’60s & ’70s influence (Studio 54 is my forever mood). I love the idea of having such a strong personal style that you could be recognised in silhouette. That kind of style transcends trends and always feels timeless.
What are your go-to outfit staples?
Colourful silk blouses, vintage Levis 501s, bold statement coats, playful gold jewellery and colourful handbags. I’ll always be wearing something I’ve designed, whether that be clothing or accessories.
How or in what ways has your style evolved over time?
The pandemic has definitely played a role in how my personal style has evolved over the last couple of years. Before lockdowns, comfort wasn’t really a huge factor in how I dressed. I’d wear heels almost every day and I’d never dream of wearing athleisure outside of a gym. Nowadays, I’ve embraced a more casual approach to dressing, loafers and sneakers are on regular rotation and I love a colourful cashmere tracksuit, even outside of the home.
How would you say fashion makes you feel?
Fashion has such a transformative power to shape your mood, your mindset, and a great outfit really can make your day. If I feel great in what I’m wearing, I feel more confident, powerful and ready for anything. Those reliable pieces in my wardrobe (usually the really bold colourful coats or shirts) are like good friends, there for you when you need an energy boost or a shot of confidence.
Do you think fashion has the ability to alter your mood?
Absolutely! Fashion and style are an outer expression of your inner self. I either dress to my mood, or dress for the mood I want to embody. You want to feel powerful and professional? Wear a suit. Energetic and fun? Wear bright colours and head to toe matching prints and if you’re going to an event where you don’t know anyone, an unusual accessory or a hot pink fuzzy coat is the perfect ice breaker.
What is your preferred way to shop?
While online shopping works for basic items, I can get a little carried away with research, fill up several carts, and then lose interest. Personally, I don’t think you can beat an in store shopping experience, especially when buying luxury items. Hearing the music, seeing the full collection the way the designer intended and just generally feeling the full fantasy is so much more fun, especially if you’re intending to spend a little more.
Can you tell us about one of your all-time favourite outfits that you’ve ever worn?
A couple of years ago my fiance and I decided to get married during a weekend in Las Vegas. It was completely unplanned and I had no outfit prepared for the occasion. Rather than go down the traditional route, we trawled the downtown vintage district for something fun for us both to wear. The vintage gods were not smiling on me that day and the perfect wedding dress didn’t materialise. In a moment of desperation I settled on a floor length, mint green ball dress. With an hour to spare before the ceremony, I deconstructed the dress in our hotel room. I made it a cute mini-length and fashioned a veil out of leftover fabric. It fit the vintage Vegas vibe perfectly and we got to the chapel just in time.
What about one of your first memories of a good (or bad!) outfit?
Going to see a play when I was around 5 years old, wearing a white fur coat, sailor dress, white tights, and black patent mary-janes…the audience may as well have been there just to see me, I felt that cute!
What is it about fashion or what you choose to wear that excites you?
I love the way that dressing is an expression of your character and creativity. Showing the world what you’re ‘made of’ or what your intentions are. I think dressing or putting together a look can also be a way of honouring your surroundings and your company in that moment. A sign of respect to whoever you might be with that you care enough about them, to turn a look for the occasion.