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Anything but uniform: how to dress like a fashion editor

As the global fashion press gathers for this season’s runway shows, fashion editor Luke Leitch details the ins and outs of dressing like one

22 February 2023

Eugénie Trochu. Image: Shutterstock

Some roles demand a uniform. Whether it’s a priest or police officer, banker or barrister, there are various vocations for which – formally or not – constant codes of dress function to advertise your position to the wider world. Fashion editor, however, is absolutely not one of these vocations. Because what fashion demands is to dress differently. 

So, how do you dress like a fashion editor? The short answer is “extremely well”. And the slightly more nuanced response is “like a professional”. Because, as Miuccia Prada once observed, “fashion is instant language”, and the fashion editor’s job is to be a professor-level expert in that language and all its dialects. If we fashion editors all wore a uniform, then it would mean that we had nothing to say. Or, even worse, that we didn’t know how to say it. 

That’s why no self-respecting fashion editor will ever seek to imitate anybody else. Clothes are the raw material of personal style and it’s up to each individual to shape their own recipe. The fashion editor’s role is to elucidate that raw material – to make its potential clear and help others understand it – so the way in which we dress is an exemplary signal of our expertise.

And, yet, just as food has cuisines, fashion has genres – most of them shaped by local customs and culture. Depending on where they’re from, fashion editors tend to be especially expert in their respective regional codes of style. So below, I’ve gathered raw material from Sloane Street’s bountiful, globally sourced offering to sketch some fundamental fashion-editor recipes. Each example is based on one of the four world capitals of catwalk fashion. Should you be tempted to follow any of these recipes, please remember to season, adapt, cut or paste all according to your taste – because that’s the whole point.

The Brit broadsheet fashion editor

Let’s start locally, right here in the UK. The heritage British newspaper fashion editor is heavily behind heritage British brands – especially since Brexit. They have a relatively cautious approach to avant-garde dressing, because notions of class and classicism are built into the British DNA. The flip side of this is that Brit fashion editors love anything associated with the royal family.

For womenswear, Emilia Wickstead is a winner. Her clothes are both very proper and come with repeated royal approval. There is no better Brit-event label. Brits also appreciate the perception of creative, country-inflected eccentricity. Swing a Burberry trench over a Hackett knit with some tailored pants – preferably local, sourced from Peter Jones – then add a ‘proper’ pair of leather shoes and crown your look with a bag from Anya Hindmarch and you might as well be wearing red, white and blue. 

None of this is to say that British editors don’t appreciate offshore craft. However, their Protestant history – and the judgmental nature of newspaper offices – is that they eschew so-called bling. Bonpoint and Façonnable are non-British yet agreeably unflashy brands, should they wish to flirt with the continental.  

Donna Wallace, British Vogue’s Fashion and Accessories Editor. Image: Alamy
Burberry long Waterloo trench coat, £1,790
Anya Hindmarch personalised bag, £595 

The Italian menswear fashion editor

When it comes to unpacking Italian editor flex, it pays to focus mostly on menswear, because – and this is a non-controversial opinion, but also one I know to be true – Italian menswear really is the most beautifully made and interesting in the world. It’s why Tom Ford has all his tailoring (and pretty much everything else) made in Italy. There are as many styles of Italian masculine dressing as there are types of pasta – each working best in a certain context – but the rule that ‘Italians do it better’ is, when it comes to menswear, simply true. 

Progressives favour Prada and Bottega Veneta – a big coat over a narrow trouser is the go-to silhouette – while classicists often opt for Brunello Cucinelli or Loro Piana. Valentino is increasingly influential in premium streetwear, Off-White remains a reference for luxury disruption, while Ferragamo is producing a new cinematic vision of Italian masculine style that’s well worth a watch. Depending on how you shop it, Dolce & Gabbana covers all these bases. For an authentically Tuscan male aura, Ermanno Scervino is less known and therefore potentially more surprising.

Angelo Flaccavento, Contributing Editor to The Business of Fashion. Image: Alamy
Off-White Bounce puffer jacket, £1,765 
Loro Piana sweater jacket in cashmere and silk, £2,600 
Valentino logo shirt, £1,150
Bottega Veneta Andiamo bag, £3,500 

Superpower dressing: the American magazine fashion editor

As befitting their geopolitical oomph, top-level editorial representatives of the globe’s (still just about) preeminent superpower tend to deploy an impressive arsenal of state-of-the-art luxury fashion, wherever it comes from. The four key power brands – Chanel, Hermès, Louis Vuitton and Gucci – are fashion’s equivalent of aircraft carriers or nuclear weapons and therefore highly valued. 

American fashion editors also appreciate brands that have long referred to American culture as an inspiration, such as Versace and Roberto Cavalli. But that’s not to say that US editors lack identity: they are often fierce supporters of US luxury brands (one of the few global industries in which the country is not a leading manufacturer) and will always fly the flag for Tom Ford and Tiffany & Co. Rag & Bone remains a cool ambassador for downtown New York style.

Anna Wintour, Global Editorial Director for Vogue. Image: Shutterstock
Versace Orchid shirt dress, £3,240
Tom Ford padlock heels, £990
Rag & Bone jeans, £290

The French digital fashion editor

Couture apart, most of the world’s luxury fashion is made in Italy. Yet, Paris will always remain the capital of fashion for two reasons: most of the greatest brands in the business are French, and even those that are not are mostly owned by French conglomerates. 

Style-wise, this translates into a powerful sense of assurance: French editors are ambassadors for fashion’s most advanced and (arguably, but not to them) sophisticated fashion culture, and they dress like it. French editors will wear Chanel and Dior (avec plaisir), but with an insouciance that no Brit or American can easily muster. To my mind, the absolute paragon of French fashion is Saint Laurent, which achieves the unmatched alchemy of appearing both rebellious and classic. 

When it comes to menswear, the French editor is probably a little less expressive than his Italian counterpart, but will always be prone to a signature piece from Hermès or Berluti.

Eugénie Trochu, Head of Editorial Content at Vogue Paris. Image: Shutterstock
Christian Dior sunglasses, £430
Chanel outfit, £POA
Berluti Scritto pouch, £940
Saint Laurent faux fur jacket, £6,500

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