‘It Was Really Fun to Play With Fashion at That Point’

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Photo: Joana Avillez

In Fashion Feelings, we’ll be talking to notable people about how fashion changed their lives. Here, Chloé creative director Clare Waight Keller on finding her own style in the heyday of ‘90s Calvin Klein.

Basically from the ages of 4 to 16, I was in uniform. It’s bizarre. It’s like going to work at McDonald’s or UPS. You’ve got a standard thing that you have to wear and that’s it. There’s no choice. It does make you dream of fashion a lot because you can’t wear it. You are looking at those things and you can’t have them, because you’re not going to buy a huge wardrobe when you can only wear it on the weekend.

When I got to be a teenager I put more importance on what I did choose for the weekends. By that age, I was more aware of fashion magazines, looking at style, and desiring it, but then not having a lot of money to buy it. I was finding things at markets or thrift stores, trying to put stuff together from hand-me-downs or my grandmother’s stuff, raiding my mom’s wardrobe. T-shirts of bands I liked mixed with lots of other bits that I found around. That got me into something a bit more boyish because I had worn skirts for 14 years. I was desperate to wear trousers and low shoes. When I finally did stop wearing the uniform I basically wore pants and men’s shoes all the time. I really wanted to wear something completely different and I liked boy bands that were wearing a lot of baggy trousers.

Then when I moved to London, I was at art school and I was around a lot of people from all over the U.K., so my style really got very mixed. I played a lot with different ideas of things: things that were very romantic, things that were really dressy, things that were really boyish.