STYLE + SUBSTANCE // Navaz Batliwalla

There are many reasons I am thrilled for the first style + substance post of the new series: 


1- Navaz and I became Insta-friends after I found her book and wanted to be like her and you know that Instagram is my preferred child of the social media family, I did a bit of a healthy stalking her and we clicked like butter and marmelade, or shall I say clotted cheese and a scone.


2- because she'll make you fall in love with many of the aspects of her style and I am confident that we'll be fortifying a community of like-minded badass women not easily impressionable;


3- because the same way I learn from the interviews, I am eager for everyone else to do the same;


4- because I was right that I wanted to be like Navaz: she doesn't have secrets (!), she loves Studio Nicholson (which I am in love with), she is so humble and equally talented that makes her even more damn cool. 


But I don't want to spoil it, so please meet Navaz Batliwalla.


Q: Style + substance = empowerment. Are you on board?

A: Absolutely! All my favourite style influences have intelligence and depth. Watch one of Fran Lebowitz's YouTube videos and you'll see what I mean. And I learnt so much from interviewing the 'modern gentlewomen' in my book 


Q: Your personal style in three words

A: Loves a uniform


Q: Writing, consulting, styling: how do you do it all?

A: I’m a master list maker and I use apps like Pocket (for researching articles) and Evernote (for having all my files on me on the go). Writing is the thing I find hardest to do. It needs deep concentration and I’m very slow and of course I allow distractions rather than getting on and doing it. My main goal is focus. I try not to work on too many projects at once but I often find that if I’m working on multiple projects, they end up informing each other in some way. I also love collaborating with like-minded people. I’m a big fan of working in a team.


Q: On shopping with a purpose

A: I think that's something that comes with time. You get to know what you like and make more considered choices. It's still annoying how much menswear is better made than womenswear. I'm on the eternal hunt for nice thick chinos that will last a few years rather than just a few seasons and I don't mind paying more. Margaret Howell, COS and Levi's are my go-tos for hardwearing perennials


Q: Do you feel like sharing one secret?

A: Can’t think of anything!


Q: Your relationship with fashion: single, married, it’s complicated or …

A: It’s quite healthy. Fashion for me is part practicality (what am I doing that day?) and part character and dressing for a mood. A lot of my fashion influences come from nostalgia – from film costumes or musical performers. I had au pairs growing up and they were all obsessed with pop stars and theatrical flamboyance. It was the late 70s, early 80s in London, so a time of gender-neutral dressing. I really dress to amuse myself and tend not to bow to dress codes or rules.


Q: What’s the one thing a woman should do to feel powerful?

A: Dress for comfort. The women I admire have an unselfconsciousness about them. That comes from being comfortable – in what you’re wearing and with who you are.


Q: When did you find your confidence?

A: I’m still looking


Q: How do we get rid of the princess/cute/pretty/pink stereotype?

A: Have more womenswear fashion that's not purely decorative. This is why I love Studio Nicholson, Toogood and Alex Eagle. Having said that, you can't beat a fabulous pair of magenta tuxedo pants


Q: You look at your closet holding your morning coffee ready to get dressed: personal uniform or outburst of creativity?

A: Personal uniform and then a last minute change to add that one creative detail


Q: Which irritates you more and why: “Sustainable fashion is boring” or “Fashion is frivolous”

A: Fashion is frivolous. I think people confuse fashion with consumerism. Just because you like playing with identity doesn't mean you're a narcissist or a superficial shopaholic. Fashion tells us so much about an individual as well as documenting a moment in time in society.

You can find Navaz on Instagram  and on her website DisneyRollerGirl Her book The New Garconne - How to be a Modern Gentlewoman you can find it HERE