Travel Beautifully · Perform Confidently
Travel Beautifully · Perform Confidently

Wardrobes that work: Clare Hornby

  • The founder of fashion brand Me+Em on practical but stylish clothing
  • Clare’s travel-friendly essentials
  • Why a tailored trouser suit worn with trainers is her signature style

Clare Hornby, founder and CEO of fashion label Me+Em creates ‘intelligent clothes for intelligent women’. She founded the company because she strongly believes that practicality, comfort and style should not be mutually exclusive to each other. The clothes she designs are what Clare calls ‘Intelligent style’ – functional, flattering, and that have wear-forever appeal – something she has coined as ‘The Three F’s’. Obsessed with quality, Clare’s team create all of their garments in-house which means she is also very proud that they don’t add in costly mark-ups, meaning you won’t have to choose between quality and cost.

A busy woman with two children to juggle too, here she reveals the inside details of her wardrobe from maxi dresses with a blazer in pre-pandemic times to her go-to Zoom attire.

Clare Hornby Me + Em Founder and CEO
In 3 words how would you describe your style?

“High/low dressing.”

What are the foundations of your wardrobe (in usual times)

“A maxi dress, a blazer and a slogan tee for wearing with suits to make them less structured and formal. Then there would be a blouse with some feminine detailing that I can wear alone or layered. I wouldn’t be without a pair of jeans, some perfectly tailored wide-leg trousers, skinny trousers, some white trainers and at this time of year, hiking boots.”

The Me+Em Gingham Check Shirt Dress
Do you have a current ‘uniform?’ If so, what is it?

“Some relaxed trousers in a smart fabric so that I feel comfortable but pulled together. I’ll wear them with a shirt during the week and a cosy knit for off duty.”

How has your wardrobe changed since COVID-19?

“Like most people, my wardrobe has probably become more casual since we’ve been working from home. However I still like to feel pulled together and polished at home to help me get and stay focused.”

What piece/s of clothing do find yourself buying again and again?

“Any of my wardrobe foundation pieces as I know I’ll wear them again and again”

*Note – check out the Me + Em Essentials edit on their site here which shows daily must-haves from simple t-shirts to flattering, chic trousers, dresses that transition from morning to night and how Clare layers clothes.

Would you rather go to a shop or buy online?

“Shopping online is our only option now, but it often would be my preference pre-COVID as well. My schedule is pretty packed so making it into stores can be hard – there’s no beating the convenience of online shopping.”

What’s your go-to outfit if you want to feel empowered?

“A smart, tailored trouser suit. It’s a look that’s cool and comfortable, but also crucially very much my personal style, so it’s always guaranteed to make me feel confident and focused.”

What do you relax in?

“A pair of our joggers or palazzo pants, a tee and a cosy knit.”

The Tapered Sweatshirting Jogger
What do you like to travel in?

“If I’m going on holiday, then I will opt for one of our loungewear co-ords for a sports-luxe look that is comfortable and effortless but still looks elevated. If I’m travelling for work, a layered shirt is essential as it looks smart but actually feels like you’re wearing a t-shirt.

I always travel with one of our Cashmere Throws too – it’s so big I can use it as a blanket on the plane and as a chunky scarf later.”

If you had to go from office to cocktails but couldn’t change what would you wear?

“A wide-leg trouser with a trainer. Smart tailoring is always timeless and makes you feel pulled-together, but styling it with a cool pair of trainers adds a modern edge. It’s a chic look that I can rely on to take me effortlessly from business meeting to supper with friends.”

The Me + Em Spring Tailoring Tapered Leg trouser and Pouf Sleeve Jacket

What’s your go-to Zoom look?

“I always keep a blazer on the back of my chair to throw on for video calls. I also like a smart blouse with detailing at the cuffs or collar to add interest.”

www.meandem.com

If you loved reading about Clare’s personal rules on style then you will love our interview with fashion stylist Deborah Brett

Your Timeless, Travel-ready wardrobe – sorted

Remember when we went to work in heels? Right now, it’s hard to imagine anything other than working at the kitchen table in our sweatpants and a t-shirt. However, ‘normal’ life (whatever that is) will resume someday soon and in years to come we will (hopefully) look back and remember the year that we wore nothing but leggings.

As soon as we are able to, we here at 35 Thousand will swapping our sneakers and sweats for sassy skirts and dresses, so it’s important that we invest our money wisely on items that will work when we are on-the-go again (and stop adding to the pile of loungewear that we’ve built up over the last 12 months.)

We have therefore teamed up with luxury clothing brand Goatfashion.com, a brand much loved by the likes of Gillian Anderson and the Duchess of Cambridge. Goat’s designer and founder Jane Lewis creates beautifully-made, versatile, timeless pieces that will stand the test of time, being squashed in your suitcase and will take you from Zoom calls to car journeys, to boardroom meetings and evening cocktails (we can’t wait for those.)

Goat are offering our readers an exclusive 30% off their new season (full priced) items.  Enter the code 35THOUSAND30OFF  in the discount code box at the checkout and 30% will be deducted from your order value.  This does not include the price of shipping. The code cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer. Expires 28th February 2020.

Here are some of our favourite timeless and travel-friendly buys from their new collection for your new world wardrobe:

For crumple-free chic

Goat’s Jersey edit is a range of super flattering, super stylish wardrobe staples that won’t look like a paper bag by the time you reach your destination. Using soft but structured jersey fabrics that will always look ready-pressed, some of our favourites are the Lula Jersey Shirt Dress and the ever classic Loretta Jersey Pencil dress which hugs and flatters in all the right places without being exposing.

The Kirby Dress
Going with the flow

If sharp lines and pencil skirts are not your thing and you are after something more floaty that will travel with you through the seasons, then you may want to look at Goat’s very beautiful flowing Liberty Meadow Maxi Dress which is made from crease-free, sustainably sourced viscose with a beautiful blue and white meadow print on a navy background. Or there’s the Lila Godet Midi skirt which has a flattering high waistband and hugs the hips but flares out flatteringly mid-calf.

The Liberty Meadow Maxi Dress
Tops that rock

Everyone should own one of Goat’s Kara Tie Neck Blouses crafted from lustrous silk and available in black, caramel and cream, which would look equally as great with the Laine Wide Leg Jersey Trousers for a meeting or a favourite pair of jeans for coffee with friends.

The Kara Tie-neck Blouse

If you love this article you would also love reading about Goat’s founder Jane Lewis and how she curates her capsule wardrobe here

My Capsule Wardrobe, by Jane Lewis, Goat womenswear

Jane Lewis founded the British fashion label Goat in 2001. What started out as a cashmere brand for the fashion cognoscenti, is today a supremely elegant ready-to-wear collection that’s much loved by the likes of the Duchesss of Cambridge and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Celebrities aside, as a working mother of three, it is Jane’s aim to create clothing for real women and to focus on something every woman needs: a working wardrobe.

With this in mind, we asked Jane about the foundations of her own capsule wardrobe. Here she delves into the essential items she personally relies upon to keep her looking impeccably stylish on-the-go, day and night.

The Joey cropped flare trouser and the Jojo top from Goat's S/S collection
The Joey cropped flare trouser and the Jojo top from Goat’s S/S collection
Q: Please tell us about yourself

A: “I am the founder and creative director at Goat. I started it without any formal training from home in 2001.”

Q: How would you describe your personal style?

A: “My style is quite simple and paired back. I prefer to dress in an understated way and focus on one element, be it colour, shape or length. I always believe less is more.”

jane lewis in work mode at goat office
Jane in work mode at her office
Q: How important to you is the idea of investing in limited pieces that really last, as opposed to quick, throwaway trends?

A: “I advocate style over fashion and in that vein I try to invest in versatile pieces that I can update where possible. That’s not to say that I don’t select a few ‘fashion’ pieces per season, rather the balance is tipped towards quality over quantity.”

Q: Is your clothing  storage curated into different sections and if so what?

A: “Yes, in a very basic way. Jeans are in piles according to shape (crop, flare, straight…), then there are silks tops and blouses, trousers, long hanging clothes such as all-in-ones and long dresses. Then there are fine knits and chunky knits set aside for winter.”

In her wardrobe Jane's clothes are divided into sections - here  blouses and shirts are grouped together
In her wardrobe Jane’s clothes are divided into sections – here blouses and shirts are grouped together
Q: What’s important to you when buying clothes such as versatility, quality and the ability to last or fit well?

A: “All of the above. I try to invest in pieces which will be as adaptable and versatile as possible. Fit is key of course. I would always advise to buy the best quality you can. It will serve you well in the long run.”

Q: What are the foundations of your capsule wardrobe, the hero pieces that you can build upon?

A: “Great jeans, always. Then a cream silk shirt, black trousers (our Duchess flare and the Cooper crop), a wool crepe top (I like our Cosmo style). A beautifully tailored coat and/or a cape are also a cornerstone for me as well as a black, small crew neck. And last but not least a midi dress and an all-in-one. “

Q: Is your capsule wardrobe colour coordinated?

A: “I confess I do wear a lot of black although a fair portion of my dresses are in fact in quite strong bold colours.”

Whilst Jane wears a lot of black, she also has a passion for strong colours yet always in simple, elegant designs
Whilst Jane wears a lot of black, she also has a passion for strong colours yet always in simple, elegant designs
Q: Which are the hardest working pieces in your wardrobe?

A: “For Winter it would be a great coat. It covers a multitude of sins and of course is a necessity. I tend to have a favourite dress per season and as I said, a really great pair of trousers or jeans and a black sweater are essential.

The reality is that I spend the majority of time in my studio and therefore I need my clothes to be practical for the day ahead.”

Q: How important is it to you that your clothes multitask, that you can mix and match so if you’re travelling you can take fewer things but always look great?

A: “When travelling I take a combination of both dresses and separates. Dresses are key for me – a  lovely and relatively effortless item to dress up or down.”

Q: Do you have clothes that can take you seamlessly from day to a night and if so what are they?

A: “I adore all-in-ones and currently I have been wearing the Joey Crop trousers   and the coordinating top.”

Q: What would be your capsule shoe collection – can you pick 3 pairs?

A: “That’s hard. I have so many… but if I have to choose then it might be black pointed flats, flat long boots and flat lace-ups.”

Some of Jane's favourite shoes - brands include Jimmy Choo, Prada and Roger Vivier
Some of Jane’s favourite shoes – brands include Jimmy Choo, Prada and Roger Vivier
Q: What are your personal rules on eveningwear – which garments could you not live without?

A: “My rules are to keep it simple. I often wear a very simple ivory silk all-in-one or perhaps a full-length lace dress (with flats) and perhaps a vintage statement cuff. I try, where possible, to not carry a bag with me.”

Q: What underwear is essential for you?

A: “A seamless flesh coloured bra and 90 denier tights. I like Falke.”

Q: Are there any other basics you feel everyone should own?

A: “Great Jeans (I like Slverlake and Frame), T-shirts ( Isabel Marant is a favourite here), a grey sweatshirt (I have too many) and a great coat.”

Q: Do you have a winter and a summer wardrobe (and spring and fall?!) or is it all transeasonal?

A: “Mostly transeasonal apart from very high Winter and Summer clothes.”

The elegant Cosmo top by Goat
The elegant Cosmo top by Goat
Q: What is your approach to accessories – which key items do use again and again?

A: “I always wear my large gold hoops. I collect sunglasses and love using them as a way to update my outfits season to season. As for bags, I wear a lot of Celine Trio cross body bags.”

Q: What advice would you give to other women looking to filter down their clothes into a more thoughtful, curated edit?

A: “Ask yourself truthfully if you think you may ever wear certain items again. Fashion changes so often, however if you have invested in really good quality pieces, chances are you can revisit them again.”

Q: In brief, if you had to leave for New York tomorrow for a 3-day trip (for work and seeing friends) and you only had a carry-on, what key items would make the cut?

A: “Jeans, the white Joey trousers and top, Prada velvet clogs and gold woven loafers, a cashmere crew neck, a long sleeve T shirt, a white T shirt, a coat, a cape, sunglasses x3 and one long dress.”

www.goatfashion.com

Lounge Living

Even before the Corona crisis hit, we were really starting to recognise the importance of home. Perhaps it’s the our knowledge of Hygge (the Danish word pronounced Hue-guh about creating all things cosy), perhaps it’s the Instagram lifestyle where everything now looks perfect both inside and outside our homes, or perhaps it’s the recent celebration of ‘self care’ and rest. Whatever the reason (albeit enforced through lockdown), nesting has become incredibly important lately. So important in fact, that there’s a whole new category of clothing to accompany the trend.

Not since the Juicy velour tracksuit has ‘loungewear’ been such a thing. This time round however, it’s stylish and chic as the herringbone throw on our sofas with luxury textures, and stylish, flattering cuts. Think Merino wool trackies, pure cotton T-shirts or 3 ply cashmere hoodies in subdued or bold printed colours.

With more and more of us working from home now we don’t necessarily want to sit around in 10 year old greying tracksuit bottoms, and neither do we want to necessarily wear our leggings all day post workout. We want comfortable without being slobby, relaxed but super chic and to celebrate our downtime (at last).

Here are our favourite brands doing great loungewear that are the wearable equivalent of a big hug:
NRBY

Having worked at the forefront of fashion for almost three decades, founder Jo Hooper has cleverly realised how our lives have changed – that we work more from home and don’t always need occasionwear or 9-5 suits. NRBY is ‘A response to the desire to be comfortable.’ With jersey jumpsuits, cashmere sweaters, loose cotton shirts, and jersey t-shirts in flattering styles, it’s the perfect wardrobe for home or travelling.

nrbyclothing.com

best loungewear NRBY lyocell shirt
The NRBY Lyocell shirt, £110
Chinti and Parker

Chinti & Parker do the finest luxury loungewear around. Specialists of innovative cashmere sweaters and joggers in stylish prints and forward-thinking colours, they are a dream to wear and most withstand the washing machine. With an inherent understanding of what women feel good in, founder Anna Singh and Rachael Wood create designs with a playful spirit whilst keeping craftsmanship and quality centre stage. Famous for their slogan sweaters, they also do fun quirky ranges such as their ‘Peanuts’ range last year. From £250. Top tip – get on their mailing list and look out for their sales where much of their stock is halved in price.

www.chintiandparker.com

chinti and parker loungwear
Oatmeal Star Cashmere Sweater, £350 and pants £395
Wyse

About 6 years ago, Marielle Wyse founder of Wyse cashmere was frustrated by fashion. She wanted the perfect cashmere jumper but couldn’t find one that wasn’t boring and ill-fitting. And so she set about creating Wyse, with wearable, comfortable but always super stylish designs. With a whole section devoted to loungewear, she has transformed the humble jogger into something super luxe with cashmere and merino wool fabrics with quirky touches that you’ll be equally happy wearing at home as doing the school run.

www.wyselondon.co.uk

The Polly Mini Star Loungers from Wyse
The Polly Mini Star Loungers from Wyse, £120
The White Company

If you like simple, clean-cut clothing then you might want to try The White Company for loungewear. At the very relaxed end of the scale there are super soft, organic cotton T-shirts, vests and throw-on sweaters but there are also items like slim drawstring trousers which would look as good in the city as they they would at home on the sofa. With cashmere joggers and (our favourites) Organic Rib Cotton jersey shirts, £55, there is a focus on comfort and understated style.

www.thewhitecompany.com

Main Image: Chinti and Parker Oatmeal Cashmere Rollneck Sweater, £295

Style in a suitcase with Deborah Brett

The Fashion Editor-at-Large of Wardrobe Icons and contributing editor of Red Magazine, Deborah Brett, on the art of packing, the importance of accessorising and her love affair with cashmere tracksuits.

How I pack definitely depends on where I’m going and what I’m doing…

“When I go for short breaks or a mini trip of 3 to 4 days, I tend to pack really succinctly. Depending on where I’m going, I whittle things down to a one-tone colour palette and become an expert minimalist where everything works together with lots of mix ‘n’ matching.

However, when it comes to a longer break of anything more than a week, I suddenly want to take everything with me. As a fashion editor, I always want to wear all my new additions and old treasures.”

I’ve had every permutation of suitcase…

“I went through a phase travelling with my family with these very lightweight nylon duffel bags because it meant we could pack as much as we could for the kg allowance. But loaded up with five duffel bags and no trolleys to be found, my husband and I often resembled pack mules. So last year we invested in cases from Rimowa. We have the Classic Cabin S $950 and the Check-in L $1220 both in aluminium. I stroke them I love them so much. I thought I’d get upset when they got battered but they still look beautiful.”

deborah brett travel style rimowa suitcase
Deborah has invested in a set of Rimowa suitcases
I take packing very seriously…

“People think the job of fashion editor and stylist is incredibly glamorous but in fact you are just a glorified packer.

So much of what goes on behind a fashion shoot is thinking about what clothes you’re taking, how you’re going to put them together, and the things you’re going to really need. Then you take them away on location and dress a gorgeous model on a beautiful boat up a canyon. So with so many years of that training it’s invariably filtered into my own life.

I tend to lay my clothes and the clothes of my children on the floor in front of the cupboards and I leave them there for about four days. Slowly I add bits to make sure I haven’t forgotten anything.”

I’m definitely a flat clothes packer…

“I always feel that works best for me, especially in my Rimowa cases. They get compressed with the panel inside that flattens them down and holds everything in place.

I pack my socks and underwear in all the gaps and I always put my shoes in shoe bags.”

I always pack for my destination…

“Wherever I’m going it’s like I’m styling myself for a photo shoot there. For example, if I go to Ibiza my clothes tend to be more colourful and hippy like. However, if I’m going to New York they tend to be more elegant, and if I’m going on a winter ski holiday I will take Nordic knits, velvets and lumberjack shirts.”

I adore accessories – I’m definitely a maximalist…

“I take all my costume jewellery away with me – favourites include my Forte beads by Carolina Bucci, Marte Frisnes new bamboo bangles, my Wardrobeicons.com rings, Tilly Sveaas Gold Curb Link necklaces, and Dana Levy evil eyes. I love to wear rings on every finger, earrings, and bracelets as I feel they definitely make my outfits.

I also love shoes although when packing I do try to keep them to a minimum. In the summer I take a few clutches on holiday and use a basket by Rae feather as my carry on and a velvet cross body by Meli Melo in the winter. My current obsession with hairbands by Born in the Sun means that my number of accessories in my suitcase is on the rise!”

deborah brett style maximalist accessories
Deborah is a self confessed maximalist. Image @instragram.com/deborahbrett
I try and limit my shoes when packing…

“In the summer I love a simple pair of neutral sandals by Ancient Greek sandals which go with everything. I also have a great pair of flats by Nupie. I got them from Koi Bird and I love the fact that they come with different fabric ribbons so suddenly you have three or four different pairs of shoes. I tend to take one pair of heels with me –  I love my Jimmy Choo strappy sandals –  and for winter I make sure to take a stack heeled boot from Isabel Marant as well as my Golden Goose shearling lined trainers which means I have a soft comfortable pair of shoes to walk around town in.”

For an important meeting I would pack a great dynamic coat…

“…and an elegant expensive bag. First impressions always count.”

I have curated a collection of eveningwear over the years…

“…some fantastic Stella McCartney and Preen dresses. But one of my favourite pieces is a black velvet jumpsuit by DVF with a satin band that ties around the waist. It’s very sleek, simple, sexy and cool.”

I don’t know what I did before the cashmere tracksuit…

“…which is my favourite thing to travel in. I have a lightweight striped version by Chinti and Parker and I also have just designed a Nordic knit cashmere tracksuit for Wyse. They’re so comfortable and they look elegant as well as being cosy. I then wear them with my shearling slipper shoes by Gucci.

Finally I wear a very lightweight cashmere baseball jacket by Zoe Jordan for an added layer of warmth and comfort.”

deborah brett style cashmere tracksuit
Deborah has a love affair with cashmere tracksuits. This one is fro Chinti & Parker
I wouldn’t travel without…

“…a wonderful lightweight cashmere shawl, which can double up as a blanket on the plane, or to wrap a child in on a long car journey.”

I always travel with…

“My customised denim jacket from The Jacket Bar in the summer, otherwise an eye mask from Bodas and earplugs to sleep in.”

When it comes to coats I have a wonderful khaki long sweeping trenchcoat…

“…lined in red and a black lumberjack check from Preen that is reversible that I love to take for cities. If I’m going somewhere cold I adore my Preen shearling lined biker jacket it has these panels of shearling that zip on and off which means it can transform from something lightweight to something warmer quickly.”

I remember the first time I came to Ibiza…

“I was told that the island (Deborah now has a house there) was so low-key and relaxed that I wouldn’t really need any heels or fancy dresses and that we would be going from beach to dinner in a kaftan and flip-flops.

However, on our first night we bumped into Tamara Mellon who at the time owned Jimmy Choo. We got invited to her party with Valentino and model Yasmin Le Bon. Everyone was wearing Valentino, YSL and Jimmy Choo and I turned up barefoot in my beach dress.

Ever since I have never listened to someone else’s packing advice and I always make sure I have one great party dress and a pair of heels with me.”

Follow Deborah at @deborahbrett on Instagram.