Meet Sarah Kate Byrne, our sartorial Queen of vintage fashion is the expert stylist to ITV racing and advises the cream of the crop on dressing for the British social calendar. Drawing on heritage styles and elegant shapes she dresses her clients for comfort and classic elegance. We ask her for some tips!
How do you like to help people with their style?
I like to let the client lead the way to start with. We run through some of their favourite pieces what they like, and what they tend to avoid. We then try on lots of shapes and colours, including some off-piste ideas beyond their normal comfort zone. We can then build up a fresh view of what works from there. I like to focus on silhouettes and styles, letting the colours come later. Also introducing exciting new, up and coming brands as well as vintage at a range of price points. We then try to stop and re-assess to see what is missing with fresh eyes - it is important to build up the wardrobe staples and not just focus on the perfect frocks!
What are you tips for dressing for the races?
Sensible heels and a proper handbag, big enough for your race card with a shoulder strap or wristlet at the very least. You have to be comfortable, but you can still have fun with it. Bear in mind that big hats mean no kissing(!) and a proper hairdo as you will most likely need to take it off for lunch. Depending on the Great British weather you may need talc for your feet or a fine cashmere vest for warmth, and a second pair of shoes can be a life-saver!
Where do you find your best vintage buys?
Vintage fairs, dealers, charity shops, and of course Instagram. You have to hunt for them but that is part of the fun of it for me. It helps to have sharp elbows...!
You are famous for your bravery as a side saddle rider. How important are equestrian influences in your wardrobe?
I absolutely love the equestrian and even Edwardian silhouettes. Side saddle habits are practical, comfortable and elegant. You really need to be comfortable to gallop over hedges! And I find that I subconsciously take that sentiment with me when styling myself and my clients.
I love high waisted trousers and shirts with big collars and frills. The Dior Cruise Show featured stunning side saddle riders and equestrian chic. Hermes is obviously another classic, having started as a saddler the influences remain abundant today.
Who are your British style icons?
Amal Cluny is superbly elegant and chic but always looks comfortable. She marries her persona of a working mother holding down an insanely demanding and inspiring job and that of a style icon perfectly.
Emma Watson for her youthful approach to polished and appropriate dressing.
What do you think makes the heritage British Style so enduring?
British brands are known for their quality and craftsmanship. Being understated yet appropriate. Irish and British linens, wools and tweeds are the best in the world, little wonder that Chanel have used them for over 100 years! When I buy a piece of clothing quality and tailoring take precedence over who the designer is, or whether it is in fashion, and this is something British brands try to adhere to.
What are your favourite pieces from the TROY collection?
The Pinafore Shirt is feminine and versatile, but also so British old school with a nod back to school days, and it is easy to dress up or down – I love it! Other favourites include the Habit Coat for its equestrian silhouette and the Cartwright Cape as it is just so decadent.
Sarah Kate Byrne is hosting a pop up from the 26th-28th July featuring vintage occasion wear, contemporary millinery and hand-picked vintage costume jewellery at 63 Hanbury Street, E1 London. @sarahkatebyrne