MMM: Modern Mum, Style Passport’s Sarah Walter

Fashion industry veteran Sarah Walter is the MD of online retail destination Style Passport – a must for anyone who loves fashion AND travel.

As Vogue described it, SP is a ‘passport to a chic look, no matter where you’re going.’

Sarah Walter

A graduate of Central Saint Martins, Sarah then began a placement at British Vogue on the same day that Anna Wintour started at the magazine.

She worked in the Vogue fashion team under Wintour before moving to Harpers and then Marie Claire.

After  her glossy mag stint, Sarah turned her attention to the British high street – first at New Look, where she brought Luella Bartley, Katie Hillier, Georgina Goodman, Karen Walker, Giles Deacon, Kelly Brook and Lily Allen on board.

Next she moved to River Island, where she launched the Graduate Fashion Week sponsorship programme.

Sarah set up SP in 2011 after years of dreaming about doing it.

Married to GQ Editor Dylan Jones, the couple have two daughters Edie, 14 and Georgia, 12.

Here she talks to MMM about her style, great buys and whether her daughters influence her wardrobe.

Sarah and her girls, Edie, 14 and Georgia, 12, on holiday in Wales

Q&A:

How would you describe your style? Has it changed since becoming a mum? My style has always been pretty comfortable, easy and fairly bold. I love colour and print and tend to have one flash of something a bit different with most things I wear; a flash of neon on a wrist band, a printed scarf or coloured shoes. Since becoming a mum the only difference is that I have no time to really think about outfits as I did in my twenties, I tend to get dressed in just a few minutes and often find myself rushing home and envisaging my going out for dinner outfit as I run into the house so I can run back out in five minutes. I don’t ‘vintage’ as much either which I really miss as I used to find pieces which were really individual.

*SCREAM* Sarah with 1D at a dinner event

Who inspires your look? I have always loved Lauren Hutton’s relaxed, healthy style, both in her model heyday and as she has grown up. I guess the fact she loves Africa and rides a motorbike appeals too!

Lauren Hutton
Image: markdsikes.com

Do you dress completely differently out of work? What is your ‘off-duty’ look? I don’t think so. The only difference is when I am at an important meeting and need my clothes to give me confidence and authority I wear more jackets and pay more attention to make-up.

Is there an item or accessory you couldn’t live without?  I am a scarf queen. Scarves are for heads, necks, belt loops, bag handles, double them over and they are skirts, beach cover ups……. Shall I go on?

Sarah in her favourite South American sarong in Green Market Square, Cape Town

Could you suggest three key items for the season that will give women a fresh wardrobe update? I love all the new prints led by the British new generation like Jonathan Saunders and Peter Pilotto. The right print makes you feel very special. A new handbag often does the trick too, at the moment I am into the modern structured shapes made by Sophie Hulme. A new lipstick colour probably makes the most difference too, Im thinking of a soft orange for spring.

Sarah’s handbag – a Vida Vida weekender from SP – has sunglasses by Linda Farrow, an Indonesian sarong, some Miller Harris and an Anya Hindmarch Valerie clutch showing.

You have had a career spanning glossy magazines, high street retailers and now your own online retail venture. What was it that prompted you to set up your own company, Style Passport? ‘No regrets’. That’s what did it. I had a dream and knew if I didn’t try to realise it I’d never know if I could have done it and that would have been a huge regret. We have a long way to go but ‘don’t go, don’t know’ I guess.

How do you choose the labels you stock? Are there any new brands you can tell us about for SS13? We start by thinking, ‘Where is she going to go and what does she need to take with her to have the best style possible’. Our brand choices are predicated on style, great value and usually very easy fabrics too, after all structured jackets and dresses don’t pack that well! Coming up on the site with have Vanessa Bruno, Edun, Suno, Jonathan Saunders, Michel Perry (unbelievable sandals) and loads of new artisanal finds from Sardinia, Bali and South America.

Style Passport beach bags in their warehouse
A moodboard in the Style Passport office

You have two girls. Is shopping with them a joy or a chore?  I’d love to say it was a joy but unfortunately there is never enough time or money. I’m frustrated that children see so much now and think they are entitled to it all. I have tried to develop a work ethic so the value of something is understandable by the amount of work you put in.

How much input do they have into your own look? They both have their own look but it’s nice when they ask my opinion. As indeed do I with them.

What’s on your Christmas list this year? A new gold necklace with a charm for everyday wear.

 

Sarah in Mustique earlier this year

QUICK FIRE QUESTIONS:

Brogues or Converse? I love both. Sorry.

Blow dry or scruffy bun? Scruffy bun, always.

Kate – Moss or Middleton? Was Moss but moving towards Middleton.

Black or Navy? Again, was black but navy is more flattering as you get older.

Breton or Polka dot? Breton, Breton, Breton. I LOVE them!

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