“Here’s what you need to know,” fashion designer Jean Bas told me over the phone.
“I have dressed over 10,000 clients, over 35 years, and most women don’t have a basic wardrobe.”
To Bas, the information she was about to share with me seemed obvious. Didn’t every woman know she ought to invest in a trench coat?
The answer, of course, is no.
And I was undoubtedly the perfect interviewee.
What was second nature to Bas has never come easily to me. To be honest (I’m sure she would be horrified) I usually just look around me, on the street, in the office, even on Instagram, and just sort of… copy what they’re doing.
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Most mornings I don’t even bother switching on my light before placing my hand in my wardrobe as though I’m pulling out a lucky dip. Will it be the jeans I wore yesterday? Most likely. Will it be paired with a crinkled jumper Bas would maybe want to set on fire? Absolutely. Will the shoes I wear just be whatever is closest to the door? You bet.
And in 26 years, I’ve never owned a trench coat.
Bas has worked in the industry for over three decades. She runs her own masterclass, and owns a retail showroom named Jean Bas on Darby St in Newcastle, with an atelier (workshop) above. She’s also my aunty, and in my entire life I’ve never seen her wear something that doesn’t suit her.
If there is anyone who knows women’s bodies, and knows how to dress them, it’s Bas.
Bas has extensive experience dressing corporate clients, and has developed the pillars of the perfect working wardrobe. She says that for some women, it will take years to build up the basics, and advises that women invest in good quality fabrics, rather than shopping haphazardly, and buying dozens of disparate pieces that don’t necessarily go together.