If you’ve not heard of Michelle Abbott (@maison_abbott), you need to get on over to her Instagram page. Inspiring, honest and always with the biggest smile, Michelle is a 40-something fashion blogger who manages to look effortlessly stylish in her role as both a mother and a busy professional.
Simply posting her ‘Outfit of the Day’ (OOTD) on Instagram has seen her following grow to nearly 11,000 people in the last four years, testament to her authenticity and achievable looks. Now an ambassador for M&S, Michelle has great taste, and we were delighted when she put her stamp of approval on the Adjustus V bags, making our Anushka bag one of her wardrobe staples.
Michelle has kindly agreed to style a selection of our bags and give us a few tips as to how to look stylish and not ‘mumsy’, chic not overdressed, and best of all, create winning looks that tick the box for both the office and the school run. Plenty on this – and much more – in our exclusive interview with Michelle, so read on and get inspired for summer!
Hi Michelle, thank you for sharing your styling tips with us. Have you always been interested in fashion?I’ve loved fashion and clothes as long as I can remember. As a teenager, I had absolutely set my heart on becoming a fashion designer - I would design clothes, cut patterns and create collections at home. I loved to style outfits and find new ways to wear things. I remember buying my first ever copy of Vogue and was completely inspired. Unfortunately, due to a turn of events in my home life (my dad became very poorly), I gave up my place at Art College in London and decided to stay near to home – I ended up pursuing a career in Law, but I have never lost my love for fashion. This is why I love Instagram – it gives me a creative outlet and space to indulge in my love for all things fashion.
As a lawyer, you need to portray a professional ‘look’, but we know you are also a busy mum of two boys. What is your favourite type of outfit that ticks the box for both roles?I am a bit of a chameleon when it comes to clothes. I work part-time now and so for part of the week I dress for a more corporate office environment and then the latter part of the week I can go to town a bit. I wear what I love and what makes me feel good. A great piece which transcends my professional and parent role is a good shirt dress, which can be styled formally with heels or casually with trainers when off duty. It’s such a flattering, easy piece to have in your wardrobe and works on all body shapes.
What do you feel is the biggest fashion challenge facing mothers trying to dress appropriately for the many tasks we have to juggle during the day?I think there is a lot of pressure to dress a certain way - I talk to women with children who worry that they might be overdressed, or too ‘mumsy’ on the other extreme. I think as women, we need to embrace clothes as a way of enhancing our daily lives and making us feel confident and ready to tackle life’s challenges; it’s amazing how a great outfit can really change your mood for the day, and make you feel positive! In a practical sense, it’s a challenge to find great pieces which transcend seasons, can be worn for a variety of occasions, and, importantly, last the test of time – things which are the building blocks of a wardrobe which works hard for a busy mum.
Is there a colour you are particularly drawn to when shopping?I look for great pieces in black – so classic – but for colour I am always drawn to red and pink – although I’ve been looking at yellow pieces a lot this year. Don’t be afraid to experiment with colour – you’ll be drawn to those shades which suit you – and I think you can see instantly what does and doesn’t work for you.
What is your favourite colour combination?Oh there are so many! I adore black worn with neutral or tan accessories – it’s such a timeless classic summer combination. I also love cream with black, navy and tan, and for brights, I love red and pink together. This is what is so great about prints – especially florals – the colours are put together for you – and you can pick out a shade to co-ordinate your bag, shoes or earrings etc.
What is your favourite season to dress for?That’s a tricky question! I love Autumn when there is more structure and solidity in the fabrics and shapes of clothes, and the richer deeper colours are a welcome change after months of light cottons and silks - but equally I love the Summer months when dressing can be so easy – just throw on a little cotton dress and some great sandals and you’re ready!
Showing off a little more flesh as the weather warms up can be a little daunting. Do you have a ‘go-to’ summer look to help with this wardrobe transition?I think it’s all about balance. It’s so good to shed the layers that are necessary in our British weather when we finally get some sunshine. However, we don’t all necessarily want to immediately don shorts and a vest top – it can leave you feeling a bit exposed. I think a great look for the summer is a maxi dress – something with some volume in a light airy fabric, with a short sleeve or straps. Wear one with some simple flat sandals and you have a perfect summer look without feeling you have all your limbs on display! That said, I do feel that if you want to – wear your shorts with confidence – there are lots of styles and lengths so you should find a pair to suit.
What are the ‘must-have’ items for your summer wardrobe?I think a white cotton dress, a pair of wedge espadrilles and a great lightweight bag are my summer essentials. I also love great basic quality vest tops which work with all lengths and styles of skirts or trousers, shorts and also layered under a silky slip dress are invaluable. My absolutely essential cover up layer for the Summer is a denim jacket – I’d be lost without mine.
What style of summer shoe would you say offers the most versatility?I adore a wedge espadrille in summer – preferably with a lace or ribbon tie. This style can be worn to dress up a simple pair of jeans or shorts, or worn with a floral or patterned (or any colour) dress for a feminine summery look. My other summer essential shoe is a strappy tan sandal – perfect with everything.
What would be your advice to someone learning how to dress for their body shape?You can usually see what suits you – take note of a particular style which you can see flatters your body and try to make that a uniform – look for similar details in clothes when shopping: do you suit a waisted dress or an a-line, what neckline looks the most flattering, what hem length flatters your legs the most, what sleeve length and style works for your arms? Once you have a checklist of these criteria, you can apply them to pieces when out shopping and soon spot your ideal items. Above all, wear what makes you feel confident, and make sure clothes fit properly. We’ve all bought the dress which is a bit snug or which needs an alteration to sort out the length or shape – in reality these pieces usually hang, unworn, in our wardrobes. Only buy pieces which really work for you.
What is your favourite thing about your Adjustus V bags?I love how practical and stylish they are – and how they fit in with my wardrobe and my life! With my larger shopper bag, I can fit in everything I need to have to hand when out with the children. I take my blue Anushka bag away with me for the weekend as it’s the perfect day bag for a city break. The fabrics are sturdy and the bags are beautifully made, and classic, timeless styles, and I love the great range of colours.
What’s your view on fashion and sustainability?
We’ve all succumbed to the lure of fast fashion – cheap, on-trend pieces which are not well made but fit the brief for one season. What we as consumers and the industry who sell to us are realising now is that all of this comes at a price – we need to think about our purchases and the impact they have. Generally, I wear things in my wardrobe time and time again and I have pieces I have owned for absolutely years – these are the things I have perhaps spent a little more on, but which stand the test of time. We are all moving towards the concept of ‘shopping our wardrobes’ which seems an odd thing really when this is the point of building a wardrobe of clothes – that we can use them again and again. Purchases need to be considered – do we really need it? Do we have something similar already? (we are all guilty of repeat purchases), how often will we wear it (at least 30 wears per item), and finally – my own personal mantra when trying on clothes on a shopping trip: if I like the outfit I am already wearing more than the one I am trying on, I don’t buy it – ever!
Thank you to Michelle for taking the time to speak with us! If you like Michelle’s style, don’t forget to head over to her Instagram account (@maison_abbott), to see her fabulous daily outfit updates.