‘Stella McCartney Wasn’t Sure When I Told Her My Stella Jacket Made Me Feel Incredible’

But it taught me a lot about so-called ‘investment dressing…’ Photographs by Sophie Davidson


by Abigail Radnor |
Published on

A lot of the time I find myself confused by fashion magazines. I can’t relate to shoots replete with nipple exposure and I struggle to understand the terminology. Anything described as ‘laser cut’ sounds like some sort of accident from a particularly fierce round of Quasar, for example. And headlines on ‘transformer pieces’ immediately caonjure up images of moody robots and Shia LaBeouf. I start wondering if I am right to be concerned for his mental health or if he’s actually just a complete and utter… ooh, crisps. You’ll see I also get distracted from pondering these curiosities quite easily.

But I am not here to put a downer on fashion because a. that’s boring and b. I actually owe a lot to the fashion world, namely my career. It was during my days as a features intern at a fashion monthly (I know, I actually worked for fashion magazines without quite understanding them. The power of bullshitting…) that I learnt about the importance of something fashion folk like to call ‘an investment piece.’


It happened upon a summer’s day at a Stella McCartney sample sale. I was drawn to a dusty pink chunky knit cardigan reduced by 80% and immediately called my stylist. 'Mum, I’ve seen this cardigan…' I went on to explain colour, size, length, potential outfit combinations… Only a mother’s love tolerates such trivialities.

'How much?' she asked. Despite telling her the bewildering original price first she maintained that £200 was still a lot to pay for a cardigan. 'Is it something you are likely to see in Mango for £40?' she asked too knowingly. It was. 'Abigail,' (I always know I am going to get a good talking to when she uses my name to start a sentence) 'With sales like this it is only worth buying key pieces that will last you a lifetime. Jackets. Bags. Shoes. Invest in a classic, not a pretty whim.'

Turns out my mother knew a thing or two about fashion dictums. With her sartorial wisdom ringing in my ears I perused the jackets and spotted her. A dark grey single-breasted blazer with dulled silver silk lining, reduced from £800 to £200. She fitted like she already belonged to me. It was truly a moment, even if it was in the backroom of a shop.

I don’t usually refer to pieces of my clothing with personal pronouns but I became an awful cliché around ‘my Stella’. I showed it off to friends who cooed at it like a newborn. Even my Grandma, who thinks Stella McCartney was a character in Coronation Street, commented on how beautiful my blazer was when she saw it. I told her it was her first great-grandchild. She didn’t laugh.


Try not to judge me but the truth but when I wear the blazer I feel different. No other piece of clothing has made me feel this way. So much so that when I interviewed Stella McCartney herself, at a fashion event, I told her exactly that. (I was drunk.) 'So would you say the stress of fashion week is worth it?' I began, which is akin to asking Barack Obama if campaigning for election was worth all the fuss. I thought I could rectify the situation by telling her about my blazer. 'I came to your sample sale because I cannot afford your clothes in real life. And I bought a blazer. And I shit you not, Stella, when I wear it, it makes me feel like a real woman.'

Sadly, this quote is verbatim. Apparently I felt confident/drunk enough to be on first name terms with, and conversationally swear at, the internationally renowned designer and Beatle offspring. I think she then hugged me pitifully and backed away. What with the booze and the humiliation it’s all a blur.

But I stand by what I said. There is something about that blazer, bought in the midst of a recession on the lowest wage I hope to earn in my life, that has taught me a lot about fashion – and perhaps, feminism. It makes me feel powerful and totally capable of taking control of my otherwise chaotic life when I wear it. It’s a combination of the fit and style and, yes, the fact that it’s a Stella. Perhaps that’s because my shallow soul has been snared in the capitalist net that prizes luxury over anything else or perhaps it’s just the cold hard truth that expensive clothes feel great when you wear them. All I know is it comes out every year and reliably makes me feel that exact same way and I’m OK with that.

So when people beat up on Sheryl Sandberg for wearing Prada boots or mock Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt (also the proud owner of the best selfie in history) for her taste for designer clothes, earning her the nickname ‘Gucci-Helle’ I sense they miss the link between high end fashion and powerful women. Their clothes aren’t incidental frivolities, they’re their armour. If I had their salaries, I might stock up on a few more investment pieces myself. But for now, I shall look forward to spring, when my Stella comes out again and makes me feel like an adult. Albeit an adult that still can’t resist a free bar and verbally vomits over famous people.

Follow Abigail Radnor on Twitter @abigailradnor

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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