Recently, we had the pleasure of meeting Phill Tarling – a charismatic, down-to-earth celebrity stylist with a warm smile and an iconic personal style. Phill told us how he got into the world of fashion and shared some pearls of wisdom when it comes to dressing well.
1. TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF. HOW DID YOU GET YOUR START IN STYLING?
I’m 52 and I have been a stylist for over 25 years. My journey into fashion was quite unconventional. I moved from Wales on March 1st 1991 to train at the BBC as a wardrobe standby. I worked on many tv shows and in 1997 during my time on Eastenders I discovered the world of styling. The PR for the show opened the door to an opportunity and I have never looked back since. Everything I learned was through working with celebrities, gained knowledge and experience. I have since styled celebs for all sorts of events and occasions.
2. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONAL STYLE?
I’m usually informally dressed in my day to day. Shorts and hightops from March until October with vintage inspired shirts. You’ll often hear me say I dress for the weather I want! My clothes fit well and flatter my body shape and proportions. For more formal occasions I have tailored suits which I wear tone on tone. I keep my personal style simple but stylish.
3. DO YOU LIKE TO USE COLOUR IN YOUR STYLING?
100% yes. Colour is a life-life to looking stylish. Colours have a psychological impact consciously and unconsciously. Understanding the power of colour is as important as how to wear colour well.
4. DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE STYLING HACK?
Yes I do. It’s not so much of a styling hack but more of a style essential. I always start with analysing body shapes. It’s my styling 101. Shopping for a shape and what suits it is far more effective and efficient.
5. ONE PIECE YOU’RE ADDING TO YOUR WARDROBE THIS AUTUMN?
I am a strategic shopper and instinctively update my style based on the gaps in my wardrobe, or when adding an investment piece. Buying a better quality classic worn a lot is better long term for the pocket and the environment. This autumn I would like a few new fine knit jumpers to refresh the colours in my wardrobe. It’s a quick way to update. I will wear them over a basic T-shirt with jeans or chinos and boots.
6. What are some of your go-to brands at the moment?
I don’t have many go to brands. However I do work at maintaining relationships with specific stores who look after me and my customers well. I often WhatsApp a store manager to let them know I’m coming in. I also like to nurture relationships with emerging and British brands and show some support across my socials. Where possibly I will collaborate like I did recently with The Vintage Cut.
7. What pieces do you consider “wardrobe must-haves”?
There are a list of staples worth considering, but it really does depends on a person’s style personality and job. The must have for me is that they must fit. Men generally buy clothes a bit too big, while women generally prefer to buy a size smaller. Finding clothes that fit and flatter the body is the wardrobe must have. My autumn winter staples are jeans and chinos that fit me well. I can dress them smart if casual depending on the situation.
I am a strategic shopper and instinctively update my style based on the gaps in my wardrobe, or when adding an investment piece. Buying a better quality classic worn a lot is better long term for the pocket and the environment.
8. Do you have a trademark accessory?
I use accessories to personalise an outfit and I do have my own trademarks. A versatile large watch, my hairstyle and my Penhaligans fragrance.
9. Favourite special occasion look?
My favourite occasion look for me is a well fitted suit. I have a few that I like my most recent purchase is a Khaki Green Boss suit. It’s remarkably versatile with white hightops and a crisp white shirt, or tonal shirt and a classic brogue.
10. Who are your style icons?
I don’t really have any style icons. Most of my inspo comes from the streets of London. There’s so much energy and style. I can sit in a cafe for hours and take it all in. London is recognised the world over for its innovative looks and creative street style.
11. What’s your approach when you first start styling someone? Do you ask questions, go through their closet?
I have a very clear way of working which always starts with a consultation. Clients come to me because they are looking for a service wether is personal styling or a wardrobe edit, often both when they understand the full benefits! The consultation is where I start to understand a clients needs, set out expectations and agree a plan. I have a document I work through and is usually is a face to face.
The styling process for TV shows is slightly different and involves many conversations with executives, producers, directors and production managers. The talent are usually the last in line by which point many decisions have a ready been made about the style. My aim is to keep everyone happy, exceed expectations abs deliver and deliver the brief 100%, on time and on budget!
12. We saw that you’re based between London and Dubai – how would you say the style trends differ in both cities?
Both countries have access to extraordinary home grown talent, incredible fashion and style trends to suit every pocket. I was amazed by how incredibly western it felt. The shopping malls in Dubai are vast and cater for all, just like in the UK, except they smell exquisite in Dubai. The obvious differences is the incredibly hot weather and the cultural dress. I saw a lot of Emirati men wearing a Kandura in the evenings.
13. What’s one thing you’d never put a client in?
I wouldn’t put a client in something that didn’t suit their body shape, their colouring or their personality. I often see men in badly fitting suits and oversized clothes. It’s remarkable how bad clothes age a man. I have my tailor on speed dial. The different between looking good and great is a tailor. Even the most modest of alterations can make a big difference. Get to know your local alterations. They are inexpensive and often in dry cleaners. Also ask around and seek recommendations.
14. Are there certain types of looks the photograph best?
When you collaborate with a creative team anything is possible. Things that shouldn’t work do. I’ve created my best editorial and red carpet looks when a team works as one. Also what looks good is subjective. What looks good on one person may not look so good on another. When it comes to my own personal photography I try and let personality shine through.
I often see men in badly fitting suits and oversized clothes. It’s remarkable how bad clothes age a man. I have my tailor on speed dial. The different between looking good and great is a tailor.
15. Favourite look that you’ve styled to date
I don’t have a favourite look but I do love working in TV, and the whole process of getting presenters camera ready. So many things happen behind the scenes that have to be considered including balancing my diary and availability shopping and press appointments, fittings, budgets, logistics, agents, TV executives, studio etiquette, knowing what works on camera, what works with the colour of the studio set and the lighting. I love standing on set watching it all come together, and the presenter’s styled on brief and dressed their very best.
16. LASTLY, COULD YOU PICK ONE SMART AND ONE CASUAL AUTUMN LOOK FROM MENSWEARONLINE.CO.UK
I have pulled together 2 looks. Both the casual and smart are outfits I typically wear in Autumn and Winter. I make room in my wardrobe by packing away all my spring summer clothes in vacuums bags and storing them. Everything that hangs in my wardrobe is seasonally appropriate.
1. GIORDANO BRIAN WINDOW CHECK NAVY COAT
2. WEAR LONDON SHERRATT KHAKI HARRINGTON JACKET
3. JACOB COHËN NAVY STRETCH JEANS
4. BARBOUR RUBY MARL CABLE KNIT CREW NECK JUMPER
5. ROBERT CHARLES VINTAGE BROWN BELT
6. CHEANEY JACKIE III R PONY SUEDE CHUKKA BOOT
1. BOSS NOLWIN NAVY BOMBER JACKET
2. BAILEYS HEAVY KNIT DARK BLUE CREW NECK JUMPER
3. GANT BLACK SLIM FIT TECH PREP CHINOS
4. OLIVER SWEENEY ULMANN BUFFALO BLACK LACE-UP CASUAL SHOE
5. ROBERT CHARLES VINTAGE BROWN BELT