Sarah Miller 47, is an author from Surrey. Her book, ‘Permission to be F*cking Happy’ chronicles her holistic and honest approach to building back her identity I lost everything after my divorce but I also found myself, too
In the book, I talk a lot about finding happiness amidst the sh*t show of midlife and ways to style your best life. It’s why I am the person I am today. I’m a bit of a sophisticated hippy; somewhere between dressing like a librarian and being a hedonist! And I love to express myself through my wardrobe.
It’s not about being vain, it’s about self-expression
We define ourselves through our clothes and it should inspire us to be authentic and to help us thrive. This is our one-shot at life! Our self-image defines who we are, it’s how we show-up to the world, to others and to ourselves! It is an external reflection
of our inner intention.
The festive season for me is a lot more relaxed these days
I basically go into hibernation! There’ll be lots of lovely loungewear. Comfort is key. Plus, I now have a signature style which has come from years of experimentation and finally knowing what suits me. I no longer fall into that trap of looking at what others are wearing. I prefer to invest in key pieces that I will love forever.
Elyssa Bingham, 25, is a local artist who began translating her artwork into luxury silk scarves during the pandemic
I make wearable art
Each piece tells their own unique story. My scarves make a flamboyant style statement that can effortlessly switch up a simple outfit but equally I have clients that have hung up my scarves on their wall as artwork.
Fairytales and folklore stories are a huge inspiration for my work
Gardens too have also always been a big influence; they’re an escape, somewhere to feel calm and relaxed. Having been recently bereaved, I’ve found so much tranquility through reacquainting with nature and that’s come through in my latest design.
I don’t follow trends
I’ve always been on my own creative journey and tend to get my inspo’ from museum visits and exhibitions – and I just love to people watch! I’m drawn to unique pieces so you’ll find me rummaging in thrift shops; I love a vintage Christmas jumper and if it has sparkles on, even better! I do love layers, especially during this time of year; you can create so much more meaning in an outfit with several winter layers and accessories.
Zeshaan Iqbal, 32, is a UCA Epsom graduate and was recently selected to show his collection at London Fashion Week…
I never believed fashion was something I could do seriously, which is why I’m a qualified accountant
I still do finance to support my studies (I’m currently doing an MA) but I never thought at 29, I’d be back to university – and studying fashion which I’ve always loved! However, a chance meeting with someone in industry spurred me on. It’s all about timing.
Style is individual whereas fashion is a bit more academic
But everyone has style. It’s just knowing what your reasons are. Someone who dresses for practicalities is just as valid as someone who adores detail. Style is your power. Introverted or extroverted, it validates you and how you feel.
Inspiration behind my graduate collection, Violent Catharsis is capturing the moment when someone has been under so much pressure…
…and they burst! We contort, we withhold and we often present what’s expected of us but I wanted to explore the beauty, freedom and noise of when that pressure gets released. I manipulated classic garments like hoodies and T-shirts with bursts of fabrics and strong shapes.
The way both my parents dressed is a huge influence on me
My Pakistani heritage plays a big part in my storytelling from the fabrics to strong silhouettes. It’s why I love designers like Loewe and JW Anderson; they celebrate life and their storytelling is incredible. I personally like to wear versatile pieces; blazers, T-shirts with strong lines. There’s good pieces in TK Maxx plus great charity shops here for unique finds.
Abby Goodwin, 21, started her handmade occasion wear company, Dollie’s Design while studying for her Psychology degree
I was never interested in fashion at school
I was good at art but it was only at university that I developed my own sense of style and had a thing for putting outfits together. I made a hobby out of it, then a side hustle and then (during the pandemic) I started watching YouTube and learnt how to sew.
I’m a perfectionist and I love detail
Coordination is key. I’ll match my earrings to my shoes and bags; it’s never just thrown together. There’s a thought process to get that synchronicity. That comes out in my designs, I do a lot of matching sets. I’m all about a look being balanced and well put together.
I’m more overdressed than underdressed!
Guaranteed, I will ALWAYS be the most dressed up in a room, even if it’s a casual thing.
My birthday is on Christmas Day so I’m never not glam
Even my Christmas PJs will be stylish! I always go out for New Year, too and get even more dressed up; sequins, feathers, you name it! I’ll wear my own designs. Ideally a showstopper. I love a dramatic wardrobe! That’s what my new winter collection is based on.
Rachael Huddleston, 59, is the founder and owner of The Style Closet, a joyous and colourful clothing boutique in Ewell Village
I spent my whole working career in a corporate – pale, male and stale – environment
In my 20s I was attending big meetings, rooms with 50-100 people in, I’d be the only female in a sea of grey suits. I found it intimidating and I felt small and unseen but that’s when I started buying bright pink or red suits. I’d be the only person wearing colour and it got me noticed. Colour helped me find my voice.
As a director of a global, corporate business, I encouraged the men to wear colour
Yes, they had to wear a black, navy or grey suit but I influenced them to add a powerful tie; people remember that detail. Adding colour and looking and feeling good has such a deeply psychological effect. It’s an emotional experience.
Empowering women to feel comfy and look great in their bodies is what it’s all about
Putting someone in the right colour is so powerful! I have clients saying that they never had the confidence to wear colour until they met me. People think I’m confident – I’m not but you see, that’s the power of colour, it attracts and draws others in and brings joy!
My wedding dress in the 80s was probably my biggest fashion faux pas!
I really wanted a scarlet dress but my husband said he’d walk out of church! I ended up with a silk, oyster pink copy of Princess Di’s wedding dress! But hey, it gave me masses of joy and that’s what fashion is all about!
54 High St, Ewell
Tom Punter, 29, is the founder and owner of Oyster Barbers, Epsom, famed for their classic cuts and traditional aesthetics
I’ve always loved that old school look
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved classic things; old styles especially from the 1950s and 1960s. I’d listen to my granddad playing music like Frank Sinatra and I just love that whole era and image. I don’t like modern. It can look cheap but the old stuff is timeless.
Wearing a shirt and tie looks stylish
And for work it’s easier. Occasionally, I might mix it up, plus, we all wear the traditional aprons which are part of the Oyster uniform. You need a uniform; image is important. Tattoos are a big part of my look, one leads to another and before you know it you’re getting covered! The deer skull is my favourite.
I’d describe my style as classic, smart-casual and retro-chic
I like to shop in Reiss, All Saints and Zara. M&S is good, too! For festive drinks, my go-to look would be something classy like an old-school polo top. That or pyjamas! To be honest, by the time I’m done with work, I’m blasted! I go boxing and to the gym but usually after work, my social battery is annihilated!
I opened Oyster back in 2018
We’ve been in the new shop since October this year after moving from The Clock Tower. I sourced the decor from all over – Facebook Market Place, Etsy – and the boxing pictures on the walls, I’ve built up over time. I pick up ideas along the way; Pinterest is good! Some might think it looks like bits nicked out of my Nan’s conservatory but it’s about being unique. We’re old school, not old fashioned.
25a Epsom High Street
Words: Fatima Truscott
Photography: Jayne Saunderson