We catch up with writer, Katherine Ormerod, on her love for DIY, her approach to fashion today, and having a baby in the thick of a global pandemic...
Tell us about you and the journey of how you got to where you are today?
“I was raised between my parents. My Dad in Munich and Mum in suburban south east London. They both grew up in council houses and left school at 16, but worked so hard to give me different opportunities and I ended up getting a scholarship to go to a private school and finished up with an amazing education, including an BAHons in History from the University of Edinburgh and a Masters in Fashion History from the London College of Fashion.
The plan had always been to do a law conversion and go on to have a solid career, but I’d got a Saturday job at Harvey Nichols in St Andrew’s Square during my second year of uni and it all went off course from there! It was during Phoebe Philo and Stella McCartney’s tenure at Chloé and I just fell in love with the clothes and decided to jack in the plans to become a barrister and pursue a career as a fashion journalist instead."
What a change! What happened next?
"After I moved back to London, I started interning at lots of magazines and worked for free for two years. It was probably the hardest time of my life and my parents weren’t thrilled with the career choices I’d made. But finally, I got a job in fashion as the first writer for Matches Fashion when they launched online (showing my age here!) and then I was hired as the lowest of low at Sunday Times Style where I cut my teeth amongst some incredible writers and stylists.
From there, my magazine career zig zagged. I moved into trend forecasting for a while, then got a job as senior fashion news editor at Grazia, before moving on to Glamour where I was an editor at large. I had some amazing, glamorous, proper pinch me experiences, but my personal life fell apart with a divorce just before I turned 30 and after I was made partially redundant, I decided to go freelance. Aside from a stint in fashion tech in 2015, I’ve worked for myself across a broad portfolio spanning consultancy, teaching, speaking, freelance journalism and much more ever since.
I started my Instagram account while I was at Grazia and over the years, started to build a following which led to brand collaborations. Fairly soon, I started to feel uncomfortable with the flawless life I was portraying on social media and decided to launch a site called workworkwork to explore the grittier aspects of life alongside some of my friends in the industry. The content chimed with thousands of women and led to my debut book Why Social Media is Ruining Your Life in 2018 and a Tedx Talk the following year. Since, I’ve also become a ghostwriter and am working on my fifth collaborative biography. In the midst of this, I’ve also been through three pregnancies and have two boys, Grey who is 3 and Ripley who is 4 months."
So you welcomed your second baby during the pandemic! Huge congratulations! Was it a very different experience to when you had your first, and how have you found maternity leave this time around with more time spent indoors?
“The pregnancy was horrendous up until about six months as we’d lost a little girl at 20 weeks less than a year before and I was horribly anxious. I also really suffer from sickness, but even more from exhaustion and flatness up until the third trimester, so when they closed the nurseries, I went into total meltdown as I had a book deadline and a toddler to manage! Since Ripley has been born however, I’ve really appreciated having my partner (and my brother who moved in with us for 8 months over the COVID period) at home. I’ve felt so much less lonely and have found the whole experience so much more enjoyable with adult company around. It’s meant to take a village. Last time it was just so bleak doing so much of it alone.”
We love your dedication to DIY and the way you’ve furnished your new place. What inspires your interior choices and projects?
“Really it’s the design limitations that inspire me. We’re renting so I have a lot of constraints, not least a silver carpet situation! I have classic inspirations that I go back to time and time again, so I think all my living spaces have looked quite similar. I love the Picasso palette, typography, female nudes, mid century furniture and a lot of mirrors.”
Do you have any advice for people looking to elevate their rented homes with restrictions and limited to no planning permissions?
“Peelable renter’s wallpaper is fantastic for bringing colour and personality to a space. Paint inexpensive furniture and go really bold with your decorative accessories.”
How do you stay inspired about fashion, and has your style changed since you had children and the pandemic, too?
“I would say I’m passionate about style rather than fashion these days. I love to see the new collections and it’s always exciting to see how designers innovate, but really, I’m most excited to see the ways in which I can style my current wardrobe to feel fresh and relevant. The message of sustainability has really seeped into my fashion identity and I’ve stopped buying in the same way. Something has to be truly beautiful and wearable for lots of different occasions to stop me in my tracks. My style is still pretty much the same. Unlike the rest of the world I don’t do tracksuits, I’m just not that casual. I still love the ritual of getting dressed and doing my face every day, I can’t imagine that will ever change now. The pandemic did really reduce my use of handbags though.”
What makes you feel good or boosts your confidence when you need it most?
“Leopard print, red lipstick, Manolos and perfume. Also, Pret’s chocolate brownie or a French 75 - even better both.”
As things start to open up this year, what do you have planned and what are you most excited for?
“We’ve optimistically booked a child free trip to New Orleans for a wedding in October. The last holiday my partner and I had together was over two years ago and we need an adventure that doesn’t involve a travel cot. I’m desperate to see my parents who both live abroad and haven’t met the baby. Then I’m looking forward to the day I’m no longer breastfeeding, have sleep trained Ripley and can get a babysitter again. It will be a wild night, London better brace itself!”
Find Katherine here.