Looking for fashion inspiration? This is it — an interview (and more) with one of our favorite stylists, Shelly Vella!
I love a good home snoop, especially when the home in question is worthy of its own Pinterest board! So when Shelly said we could come and shoot in her gorgeous countryside cottage, I couldn’t wait to have a look around! I’ve known Shelly for 8 years now — my first job was her fashion intern at British Cosmopolitan Magazine. Since then, she has been my go-to for style and career advice, and always happy to help! For me, she really is the queen of boho here in London, her shoots and editorial stories always full of pastel layering, sheer fabrics, eclectic jewels and mixed metals. This is also mirrored in her own style; no matter what time of year, her boho layering is always on point, and I want just about everything in her wardrobe!
A lot of UK girls see boho as just a summer style. When the sun comes out we can’t get enough of it, but as those winter months loom we pack away our loose dresses and embroidered details and opt for cleaner lines and cosy casuals. Here we chatted to Shelly about how we can inject that bohemian style into our winter wardrobes, as well as learn the key rules of layering.
Hey Shelly! First… let’s start at the beginning. Where did you grow up?
I grew up out in the countryside in Buckinghamshire. Rolling countryside, horses and quaint cottages a-plenty. It was heaven and I was incredibly lucky.
How did you first get into fashion?
It was by default, really. I wanted to be a writer and ended up getting into the London College of Fashion to study fashion journalism. Didn’t look back and my first job was for the newly-launched British Elle magazine.
Who are your fashion icons?
Oooh difficult….I love Dries Van Noten for the way he explores different cultures, textures and quite simply the rich bohemian nature of his clothes. And Isabel Marant, as again she has taken a lighthearted bohemian aesthetic and made it feel fresh and urban.
I love the photography of Peter Lindbergh and the way he immortalized 90s supermodels, and Grace Coddington for her uncompromising approach to creating fashion stories.
You have shot so many beautiful editorial stories. What trend is your favourite?
That’s so kind, thank you. It’s probably the bohemian trend. I understand the clothes and the feel and I guess, selfishly, I just love calling it all in to play with. Sometimes the most surprising clothes will excite me. I recently shot a story, Man Up, and it is probably one of my most favourites ever and it was basically about mannish clothes.
What advice would you give people who are pursuing a career in styling?
I’d say to stick at it. Find like-minded photographers and test with them, pore over photography and film books for ideas and be informed about who is doing what with whom in the industry. Exhibitions and street culture are a great way to get inspiration and come up with fresh ideas for styling projects. Also, remember – you are your own best advert, enjoy putting yourself together and get noticed.
Your cottage is one of the most beautiful spaces I have ever seen. How would you describe your décor style?
Wow, thank you. It’s very eclectic and full of pieces I’ve picked up on my travels. I tend to buy to suit the house, and the cottage is a surprising space that is quaint in some corners with its beams and wonky ceilings and spacious and modernist in others like the kitchen. It’s well loved and most people say it feels very calm to be inside.
Your most treasured item in your home?
I love my Mackintosh table and chairs. They are quite a statement but always make me feel happy. I love the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and have two tattoos based on his flower watercolours.
What are your hobbies outside of work?
My horse Prophet. I spend my weekends trawling through potential buys at local antique shops and riding Prophet.
You can buy a ticket to anywhere in the world tomorrow…where are you off to??
India. I LOVE India. I’d take another suitcase too – purely for all the swag I’d buy there.
Three things you wish to master/learn?
More languages. I only have French and I’d love to learn Italian and Spanish.
I’d LOVE to play the guitar and I’d love to be able to sketch people perfectly. I can draw, but oh how I would love to be a natural artist.
Just one? My favourite photographer would have to be Tim Walker. He is a fantasist who just gets lost in creating magic. I have so many favourite painters; it’s difficult to narrow it down to one, but I guess Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt would be up there for me.
Music…let’s just say Jim Morrison because he was the ultimate bohemian.
What does being free mean to you?
For me, free means being in nature. I am happiest surrounded by green and not having any time pressure. It means riding my horse in the forests. Seeing deer, galloping with the wind in my hair and breathing in fresh air. It’s the simple things.
Get the look:Loop Cardigan, Walkabout Chambray One Piece, Vance Leather Bracelet Set, Jhot Cuff Set, Double Layer Rosary
Outfit 1: Denim Jumpsuit & Navy Gilet
I wouldn’t normally wear a denim all-in-one, but the wonderful thing about this is because of the soft fabric the cut is just so good, and it’s baggy in all the right places. If you are a bit body shy, putting something comfy over the top is a good idea. It makes me feel like me and is also a great way of adding texture. Layering, with something you wouldn’t normally wear, is really key!
Get the look: Hold Me Tight Cardi, Washed In Silk Dress
Outfit 2: Khaki maxi dress & chunky knit cardigan
This dress on its own is a real hero piece, something you need in every colour in your wardrobe. It really is one size fits all, no matter what size you are. It falls off the body so perfectly that you are going to feel comfortable and confident wearing it. It is definitely the most flattering dress I have worn in a long time, and love that it is a real floor sweeper as well.
The knit is like the ultimate comfort blanket, and so versatile. You can pair with jeans or a slither of a dress like this, and it is going to work.
Get the look: Bandit Embellished Rancher Hat, New Romantics Inkwell Dolman Jacket, Perfect World Tee, Levi’s 1967 Customized 505, Mega Mix N Match Ring Set, Exaggerated Waterfalls Necklace
Outfit 3: Embroidered Jacket
This jacket is one of those special pieces that you want to hang on your wall, but is best worn simply with jeans and a t-shirt as it has so much to say and needs no distraction. Avoid anything too chunky underneath; because of the sculpted shape, you don’t want to wear anything too heavy. People will definitely talk about the jacket — it’s a beautiful piece and the embroidery is stunning.
Get the look: Distressed Western Hat, Teddy Coat, Terri Cocoon Pullover, Pull On Corduroy Flare
Outfit 4: Teddy Coat & Khaki Flares
This is the coat that every woman wants; it’s the perfect weekender but could also be paired with tailoring for an updated look. I’ve layered with a similar colour knit, as oatmeal is great for all skin tones. The skinny scarf is the new necklace — its jewelry come clothing, so what’s not to love! It finishes a more casual look so beautifully.
I was a bit wary about buying flares again, but these are so comfortable especially for bad body days. Although a stretch waistband could be considered the ultimate in frumpy, they fit so well and flatten your stomach.
Get the look: New Romantics Phaedra Jacket, Yesterday’s Muse Velvet Jacket, Ease Into It Tunic
Outfit 5: Khaki parka & velvet jacket
This parka is such a clever piece as has so many layers to it. It’s part utility, part sportswear, with lots of unique details. Teaming it with this velvet jacket, it becomes grown-up boho. I love all the textures together — you CAN wear velvet with khaki and corduroy! With layers, go as far as you are confident, but the trick it to never to have one layer too bulky.
Thanks Shelly for letting us in to your world!
+We would love to know how you bring your summer boho style into the colder months! Let us know in the comments! <3