Katie Porter spent 25 years relishing her role in media production, rubbing shoulders with royals and attending lavish promotional parties. However, the arrival of the pandemic put all of that on pause and within the silence, Katie finally had time to pay attention to her lingering desire to step into the fashion world.
Katie now runs her own personal style consultancy from her home in Essex, offering a bespoke service that aims to leave her clients "feeling happier and more assure of themselves" oh, and decidedly more colourful! Katie recalls her favourite memories of the media industry, explains why we should all consider making our wardrobes more colourful and appreciates how lucky she is to have an extremely stylish mother!
An unexpected catalyst
I went straight into the media industry after leaving university and was extremely happy in that exciting world for 25 years. Although I have always had a passion for fashion and a flair for helping others feel good about themselves, I probably wouldn’t have jumped ship had it not been for Covid. The big events stopped overnight and, as it did for so many people, my life completely changed. I realised that this was my opportunity to explore styling, an interest that had always been niggling away at the back of my mind.
Returning to the mothership
I am very decisive. I had pretty much made my mind up about leaving media to pursue personal styling before I told anyone else! When I did reveal my intentions, everyone was very supportive but not in the least bit surprised—knowing my love for clothes & style. I'll quote the reaction from a friend of mine, "That's bloody brilliant… Must feel like returning to the mothership! Absolutely the right path for you.”
I often feel nostalgic about my life in the media industry—we worked hard and played hard! I have so many great memories: landing my first job in Soho Square, being involved with all the junkets for the latest film releases, sourcing outfits for the models for the Hello & OK commercials we produced and filming members of the royal family—this, in particular, has been such a privilege that few people experience and one which I will never forget.
Never say never
As I walked out of my final sociology exam at Kingston University I remember saying, “I’m never going back into education and being assessed ever again.” Yet, at 47, I found myself doing just that! My experience on campus at The London College of Style was such a joy from beginning to end, although I can’t deny the final assessment day was daunting but equally exhilarating.
To top it all off, I made some wonderful friends that I bonded with over the experience we went through together. I became fully qualified last year and I'm still so surprised by how much I am enjoying it! It’s probably exceeded my expectations and for anyone else considering personal styling, I can’t recommend it highly enough. I am so pleased I took the leap and pushed myself out of my comfort zone.
Styling was a new venture for me but, strangely, I never felt like I was starting from scratch. I have always loved fashion and it felt like a natural progression after years of advising friends and family on clothes and style. I think most people changing careers later in life are conscious of having to play ‘catch up’, as there will always be someone further ahead in the industry than you. I simply try to concentrate on myself and make sure that I am happy with what I am doing and where I am. As I say to my clients, “comparison is the thief of joy”.
Know when to listen
Communication and engagement have been key to both my career in production and my work as a stylist now. Learning how to gain someone’s trust is imperative as a personal stylist and you generally only have a finite amount of time to do it in. I have quite an outgoing and bubbly personality which is fortuitous, but it is also important to hold back and listen to your client in order to gauge exactly what they are asking of you.
The drapes don't lie
I always think of my colour analysis service as some kind of magic! I love the fact that it’s not my word against theirs, I simply facilitate an experience that evolves throughout the session—my clients can see exactly what is happening right in front of their very eyes. Identifying a client’s “wow” colours involves analysing their personality, their skin and hair tone but mainly using our specialist drapes. It’s amazing how the correct colours next to your face can diminish lines, even out skin tone and make you look younger whereas the colours not suited to you can make you look tired and drained.
Once upon a time, I was sceptical about colour analysis but since being trained by the amazing Jules Standish in the subject, I have introduced a lot more colour into my wardrobe. I now understand how imperative it is to wear the correct colours if you want to look your very best. I fall into the Spring (sanguine) colour palette. The ‘Springs’ are having a wonderful time in the shops at the moment, with all the vivid greens and reds out there.
The impact of style
Personal styling used to be seen as a service reserved for the rich and famous, but it’s now becoming totally accessible to everyone—self-care and self-belief are imperative. The most satisfying part of my job is giving women and men the confidence to make them feel good about themselves. The last couple of years have seen a decline in the 'need' to dress up and people have consequently got themselves in a style rut. If you feel good, you look good. And then, people perceive you in a completely different way. Once you find your style, there is nothing stopping you—it sounds dramatic, but it can be life-changing!
Old school cool
I absolutely love pre-loved/vintage shopping! We have a selection of little local shops in Essex, one of my favourite dresses is a vintage Luella from Holt in Norfolk and I have many leather & suede jackets from Camden market—there is no rhyme nor reason to where I shop, great finds happen everywhere. I regularly visit the Vestiaire Collective site, one of my recent purchases was a vintage Dior bag that I tracked down in Sydney and had sent over. When shopping vintage, always makes sure you are purchasing from a credible seller who can confirm the authenticity of the specific item.
Keep a tailor on speed dial
I bought a spring/summer Whistles jumpsuit last week which is gorgeous. However, being 5’2, I had to have five inches taken off the trouser legs to make them the culottes they were supposed to be—it’s definitely a good idea to know a talented tailor!
My personal style? Dressed down classic with hints of urban. All blazers in my wardrobe are very well-worn, but I do have a favourite—a navy Guess number with a really unusual pattern (my description doesn’t do it justice!). I love wearing my DVF wrap dresses when going out and my Golden Goose trainers for everyday dressing down. But my favourite item in my wardrobe is, and always will be, a long, wool coat from Miss Selfridge that my very stylish mother bought and wore for my christening, 47 years ago! I love looking at the pictures of her wearing it and everyone is always so interested in the story. I love wearing clothes that hold memories and have a special meaning behind them.