Each month I get the chance to meet and interview truly inspirational women, and this month was no different when I was honoured to catch up with the author and The Telegraph's Fashion Director, Lisa Armstrong OBE.
Thought-provoking, frank and always witty, Lisa is one of the most recognisable journalists in fashion (as well as beauty) and my favourite columnist.
Starting as a fashion writer for Elle UK and British Vogue, and with a hugely
prolific career across the top broadsheets and magazines – can you tell us what led you into journalism and specialising in fashion and beauty?
I always wanted to write but didn’t have any confidence or contacts so never believed I could make a living doing it – I didn’t know where to start. But after university I studied journalism at City University – I thought if nothing else, the typing and shorthand would mean I could get a secretarial job. Once I had the bit between my teeth, and a bit of nous about how to call up commissioning editors, I was off …
We’ve seen significant changes as print journalism moves towards digital – what are some of the challenges you’ve had to face?
It’s seven days a week, and you’re on from 7am til you go to sleep. The biggest challenge is learning how to switch off.
What impact has the development of social media had on magazine and
It has thinned out the number of magazines. When you have three month lead times you can’t compete with an instant post that’s in real time. Newspapers on the other hand seem to be doing better than they have in years. I think it’s because they offer something different from a tweet.
If you could choose any era of fashion to be born into, which would it be?
Now! I love the freedom and the fact that you can take your pick of the best from every other era.
Accomplishments you’re most proud of?
Training my puppy to sit and to follow a scent trail. I didn’t think I’d be able to train anything. To be fair, I think she‘s naturally accommodating.
Do you think there’s a hangover from previous generations that still dictates what midlife fashion should look like?
There are so many amazing, inspiring role models in their 50s, 60s and beyond. Some of the most stylish women I can think of, such as Maye Musk and Marie Donnelly, are in their 70s. As a result I think we’re getting much more open minded and realising it’s not so much that shapes what your wear, but more your body and your personality. There are so many different ways to be beautiful.
Has the pandemic has changed the way we dress and our attitude to fashion?
We all thought we were getting more casual but I keep hearing from retailers that people are actually dressing up more than ever. Hats are back big time for special occasions, while designer trainers have really tailed off. So I think anything goes.
What advice would you give to midlife and beyond women who are beginning
to feel invisible and less confident as they age?
Find someone to flirt with – even if it’s your partner – but they have to respond in kind. It puts such a spring in your step. Alternatively, or as well, invest in a session with a personal stylist, either in a good department store, or privately – Anna Berkeley or Annabel Hodin are both incredible. You’ll see yourself with a new pair of eyes.
With the holiday season underway – any top suitcase travel tips you can share with us?
I roll clothes, rather than folding, as they seem to crease less. Pack less than you think you’ll need. It’s always enough. Those packing cubes you can get on Amazon are great because you can just slide them out of your case into the hotel drawers and then back into your case again at the end – cuts down the likelihood of leaving small things behind.
The beauty ‘must-haves’ in your makeup bag?My jade Gua Sha. An organic face oil – I love Alexandra Soveral’s. Moisturiser – any will do so long as it’s not tested on animals and isn’t highly fragranced. Studio10’s Perfect Lash Mascara, Hydra Lift Corrector and Liquid Foil I-radiance
Desert island disc, book and luxury item?
Ruby by Toumani Diabète and Ali Farka Toure.
The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van der Kolk, and anything by Elizabeth Jane Howard.
A Dior boater – lightest straw ever.
And finally, your favourite quote?
“In a gentle way you can shake the world.” Gandhi