by Camilla Ridley
Influencer, stylist, TV presenter and great friend of Ridley London opens up about her new book, the life lessons that took her from feeling lost to fashion super stardom and how the right wardrobe can completely transform the way you look and feel
Influencer, stylist, and writer Kat Farmer pictured here in Provence in our statement Ridley London summer Serena maxi dress in the bold festival floral print, alongside her new book 'Get Changed'
I've got to say I'm somewhat surprised that we haven't managed to arrange an interview conversation with my fabulous friend Kat before. But that's because this one woman fashion whirlwind is literally non-stop. I guarantee, there's no-one out there whose more authentic, who works harder or crams more in. When the Influencer probably best known by her instagram handle @doesmybumlook40 isn't creating and posting more brilliant, insightful and often hilarious content, she's presenting on her regular fashion and styling slot on ITV's This Morning, championing a handful of carefully chosen brands, appearing in adverts, creating new fashion TV shows, writing articles and now a new book. Goodness knows how she ever finds any time to spend with her family. And when we do get together, frankly it's all just far too fun and exciting to talk about work. Yes folks, that energy, sharpness and wit you see on her feed is the reel Kat Farmer. What you see is quite literally what you get. And in a world famed for it's fickleness, back-stabbing and bitchiness, (I think we've all seen the Devil Wears Prada), Kat's refreshing authenticity and open-ness makes her a rare commodity and no doubt endears her to her 286 thousand followers. But it wasn't always like this. In fact 15 years ago following a stint in the city and three Children Kat would be the first to admit she was somewhat lost. And if it hadn't been for the intervention of a brilliant psychologist she probably wouldn't be doing what she's doing now, and we'd all be so much the poorer for it. So with two hour flight time from London to Niece, I pinned her into a window seat with a Gin and Tonic and settled down for a long awaited conversation about her best selling new book, her road to fashion super-stardom, the life lessons it's taught her and where fashion is all going. Fasten your seatbelts ladies (and possibly gentleman)...we're in for an exciting flight!
CR: Kat as always it's absolutely fantastic to see you and I'm really looking forward to our little trip to Mirabeau Vineyard together. Now this comes hot off the heels of the launch of your new book 'Get Changed', and with this in mind, could you please tell our readers a little about the inspiration for your book and who its for?
KF: Camilla, it's really wonderful to see you to and I'm so, so, sooooo excited that we're finally on this trip! It's been a really manic few months and I'm really looking forward to a little bit of downtime together in Province. So Get Changed is really for anyone out there who has perhaps lost their way a little. For everyone who looks into their wardrobe and sees loads of clothes but nothing they really want to wear. And for anyone who looks in the mirror and doesn't love the person they see staring back at them. Believe me, I've been there and I totally understand what this feels like and how tough this can be. During lock down I realised there were probably lots of other people out there who reach a pivotal point in their lives and need some help to make a positive change. What this book does is gives you a way out with an easy formula you can follow. It takes you right back to the beginning and helps you create a wardrobe of really fun things that will boost your confidence, you'll love wearing, again and again. Basically It will help you to streamline your wardrobe and make less shopping errors, and it's a great step on the ladder to making more sustainable choices and becoming a more sustainable fashion shopper.
Kat in the Hat! (Clockwise from top left) Pictured here in Saint Tropez in our gorgeous Ridley London Hettie maxi dress in the Edith print. Presenting her fashion slot on this Morning in a Ridley London printed floral silk shirt dress. Kicking back in holiday mode in a made to measure Ridley London Serena maxi dress in tomato red cotton
When did you first fall in love with clothes and fashion, do you have a particular early fashion memory?
So I was a child of the 70's and my mother and her friends had all of these amazing dresses and clothes and they all looked so glamorous. I particularly remember this one pair of shoes she owned. They were these wedge heeled flip flop thongs, with a gold line around them and I used to clip clop around in them. I must have only been about four but I absolutely loved them. Clothes and fashion just instantly resonated with me. When I was 14 I had a Sunday job selling leather jackets at Wembley Market and I got poached by this jeans stall with a shop in Carnaby Street where I worked during the school summer holidays, and it was incredibly cool. They had all these amazing jeans from labels like Levis and Stone Island and they were just so, so cool. I tell you they don't make jeans like that any more. God I really miss my old 501's!
Beyond necessity, do you think fashion and clothing matters?
Fashion really matters. I don't think it's seen as being fickle and vain any longer. Society definitely has a better understanding of the difference clothing makes to you as a person. Your clothes are your first impression you make on anybody and they give you the opportunity to control that narrative and make the right first impression, which really counts. They are a huge part of our individual identities, they give us confidence to go out there and become the person we want to be, the best versions of ourselves. Pretty powerful stuff right?
(Clockwise from top left) Kat Farmer is pictured here launching her new book Get Changed with Telegraph fashion and style editor Marianne Jones in made to measure Ridley London printed floral maxi dress. At Royal Ascot this year in a versatile made to measure Ridley London Manon dress in the statement.....floral summer print. With friends Heidy Jacobsen, Becky @bricksandstitches Gunning and Sammy @theturquoiseflamingo Duder enjoying a weekend away in Provence wearing our popular Savannah sun dresses in a spectrum of summer floral prints
You started out in recruitment, can you tell our readers a little about how you made the jump to becoming an influencer and fashion superstardom?
So I worked as a headhunter in the city for ten years and when I had my third child I gave up as it was really long hours and just impossible to do with a three year old, a one year old and a newborn. I worked right the way through my first two kids, and I just didn't know what to do. I also had this Disney version of motherhood that it would all be wonderful and happy and fulfilling all of the time, but it just wasn't like that for me. In reality it was so much shittier and I was really unhappy as I just didn't know who I as anymore. I was just kind of rocking in a corner. Eventually I saw a psychiatrist as I thought I had depression, and instead of putting me on pills, he said I simply had loss of identity which was completely normal for someone in my position. He instead referred me to a psychologist and I did 6 months of CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) which changed everything for me. Although I came out without a clear plan, I knew that I needed to do something and that I wanted to work in fashion. And I thought I might be able to help people find the right clothes to look and feel good about themselves, basically what I had always done for my friends over the years. So I set up as a personal stylist and used a blog to promote my service. This was just around the time Instagram was taking off and so I started to use social media to promote my business, and it took off in a direction I really didn't expect. I was contacted by a handful of retailers and instead of working on personal client referrals, suddenly I was working for them and showcasing their ranges to a much larger audience. Powered by Instagram which was growing exponentially this business model and my following just grew and lots of different types of businesses started to approach me to help promote them.
What has this journey taught you?
What I think this has all taught me, is that life is short and you need do something you really love, that you're really passionate about, and if you do, you can make it work. CBT gave me the ability to understand myself, before I just didn't realise I was a real person and made a lot of compromises because I thought it was right to go for the big corporate job, but in reality it just wasn't me. It's also taught me a lot about the importance of Luck. By that I mean I've had a lot of luck over the last ten years, and I have been in the right place at the right time. But l also think luck is 5% coincidence and 95% recognising an opportunity and what you do with it. For example, when Covid hit my client advertising work literally dried up overnight, I had nothing for six months. I looked at this situation and thought about what I could do that might be beneficial. I projected forward and thought that people would probably be in a very different place to where they were before lockdown, and that they might need help to re-assess things and regain the confidence to carry on outside of their comfort zone so I wrote the book.
Out to lunch with fellow influencer and friend Becky Gunning wearing Ridley London's popular Isle dress in statement pink broderie anglaise cotton. Creating content for her brilliant instagram feed in a made to measure Ridley London printed floral dress. On holiday in Cotignac this summer in a statment Ridley London printed floral Serena summer maxi dress
How do you think instagram and social media has changed fashion and the way we dress?
I think social media has completely turned fashion on its head. Fashion is no longer reliant on an exclusive body of professional fashion editors to tell us what we have to wear. Basically, I think it's helped to democratise fashion. Suddenly there's this window into the world of every single fashion style you could hope to see and this has normalised not following a trend. It's given people permission to wear exactly what they want to wear not what the magazine 'Bible' tells them to. This has lead to much greater diversity, more individual expression and a sense of real confidence and freedom in owning your own identity and style. In turn I think this is really helping to improve sustainability, because we're now building our wardrobes around essentials that we'll wear time and time again, so we're being more discerning over things like quality, provenance, versatility and wearability opposed to just blindly following trends.
How do you think fashion is changing going forwards and where do you see the big changes being?
No doubt, sustainability is the biggest hurdle facing fashion. And For me, I think this is all about the more confident you are the more sustainable you will be. By buying less, by buying better, buying stuff that really makes you look and feel fantastic, buying stuff thats well made and lasts, wearing it more and ultimately loving yourself more. Because, the better you look, the better you feel, the more confidence you have. It's a self fulfilling prophecy. And when you have this ingrained knowledge and confidence you can subtly tweak your wardrobe but essentially you're being true to yourself and fashion becomes an extension of your personality rather than something you have to follow.
What item of clothing or accessory shouldn’t anyone be without this summer?
This completely depends on your personal style. For me, I would always invest in accessories as they can transform old clothes and bring a new lease of life to your wardrobe, like a great pair of sandals or an amazing basket. But if I was buying clothes I would think about buying just one thing that I was likely to wear again and again all summer. Maybe a new pair of jeans or one of your lovely summer maxi dresses Camilla, which I absolutely love. Especially as they're made to measure in the UK for every customer, in any of your amazing fabrics so you're getting something completely unique that's really going to flatter you. And who isn't going to want to wear something like that again and again.
Stepping out! (Clockwise from top left) Pictured here in Saint Tropez in our gorgeous Ridley London Hettie maxi dress in the turquoise and red Edith print. Earlier this summer at the Slingsby Gin Polo at London's Hurlingham Club in a made to measure floral Isla dress with Ridley London designer and founder Camilla. With friends Heidy Jacobson, Becky Gunning and Sammy Duder in a selection of holiday dresses from Ridley London's summer collection
What’s your big beauty secret that you never leave home without?
Cleansers. I absolutely love Romilly Wilde which is a really luxurious, totally natural and organic product that's made in Britain. And it's just a joy to use with the most amazing smell. I'd advise everyone to go out and buy it now.
Finally, what advice would you give to anyone whose looking for a bit of a life or career change or fancies shaking things up a bit?
Life really is too short not to do it. I'm a big list writer with pros and cons, and yes you've got to feed your kids, but if the pros remotely outweigh the cons, just do it. Life's just too short and if it's not the right decision, there's always a way back.
Ridley London's new collection of statement dresses, skirts, tops and blazers for special occasions is available to purchase on-line and in Ridley's Barnes store. Celebrate your individuality this season with a unique piece that's individually crafted to flatter from your choice of any of our stunning new printed floral or solid silks or cottons. Or call us to arrange a virtual fitting:
Ridley London, 82 Church Road, Barnes, London SW13 0DQ T: 01730 823097