If you think most fashion directors spend their time perusing the shelves of designer stores and indulging in high-end items around the clock, think again. We caught up with Tanya Philipson, Executive Fashion Director of Marie Claire UK, and were pleasantly surprised (read: fist pumping in the air) to hear her favourite go-to store, is in fact, Zara, and that since her two boys came along, she is more likely to invest in everyday basics rather than barely-worn evening-wear. Relatable? You bet, but of course, like most fashion directors, the secret is all in clever styling, as her outfit shots on Instagram will attest…
With two small boys and a full-time job to juggle, it’s no surprise to hear Tanya has a strategic plan when it comes to both shopping and getting dressed, and we love her no-frills approach to both. Here, Tanya talks us through motherhood, fashion and living in London with a young family…
You’ve recently welcomed your second child, baby boy Maxwell who joins big bother Archer. Can you briefly describe what life is like at the moment?
Life is a rollercoaster at the moment from highs to lows, but all good. Trying to juggle two babes and a full-time job and not forgetting the husband and family and friends really is quite stressful but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I really love every bit of it.
How do you juggle your role as executive fashion director of Marie Claire UK with looking after your boys?
Help! Having an amazing nanny is the key. She is everything to me at home. She looks after the kids, the home and my sanity, every morning she comes in I know everything will be ok.
What has been the most surprising thing about motherhood so far?
Knowing that I am no longer just responsible for myself, I used to cross the road not looking and now I look left and right knowing that without me, two little boys are left on their own. Also the sense of unselfishness, living for someone else, not just yourself.
Motherhood can be the best job but also the hardest job in the world - how do you handle the more stressful parts?
Knowing that my stress is nowhere near compared to what other people go through.
I also have an amazing family unit around me that keeps the work/family stress at bay.
Did your attitude towards your career change after having kids?
My priorities changed, suddenly work problems seemed second rate. Before I lived for my job and would do anything that requires me to do day or night. Now I have had to learn to prioritise between the two.
As a working mum, how do you think workplaces can better support women coming back to work after having children?
Flexible working is the key. I came back to work five days a week but I know not everyone can do that. I have an amazing editor who has children of her own and understands that although I am fully committed to my role I may need time here and there when it comes to my children and their emergencies.
What is your definition of self-care and how do you make time for it?
This is very hard and I do always think this is the least of my priorities. I became quite ill just before I came back to work with shingles due to stress for one reason or another. It was at that point I realised that if I don’t care about myself, my children and family would suffer too. So spending time with my friends and time on my own occasionally even just over a coffee is key. Just to have time to have a breather and not talk about work or children is needed for self-care. And maybe a massage!
Describe a typical weekend - do you take time for yourself or focus on family?
Weekends are all about my husband and children. I work five days a week and I socialise in the week so weekends are sacred. I have a toddler who needs to be run around so we make plans with other families with children… kill two birds with one stone! (Am I allowed to say that!?)
Has your own childhood influenced you as a mother today, if so, how?
My parents were very loving and liberal with me. I would like to be the same with my boys but I feel they also need many more boundaries around them to keep them safe today then I ever did. I’m sad that I can’t let my boys just play in the park or street without me constantly having an eye on them. I panic if I can’t see them and I have anxiety about who may be watching them or what may happen to them. I’m sure every mother in this era thinks the same.
Has your personal style changed since becoming a mum?
I have become less hung up on trends and concentrate more on the staple, classic pieces. I go out less so I spend less time focusing on evening wear and more on day classics.
Does your style change when on and off “mum duty” or do you stick to a formula most days?
Workwear has actually become a little smarter as I feel more of a grown up and feel the need to dress up more than I did. So the difference between weekday and weekend has become more of a divide. I definitely have my week and weekend wardrobes defined.
What are some of your favourite online stores and brands to shop from?
I shop mostly from Zara… it’s my go-to for classics. I would never buy a print or a popular piece from them. Sezane is my new favourite go-to brand. I still feel it’s a little secret. Net-A-Porter is my guilty pleasure for all my designer investment pieces.
What about kids clothing - is there a particular aesthetic or brand you favour for your boys?
When the boys were babies I dressed them in the Spanish formal way with Peter Pan collars, tights and shorts. Mainly from Marie Chantal, Jacadi and Trotters. Now my eldest is three, it’s more relaxed from Zara and Petit Bateau and Mini Rodini.
How do you usually shop each season - do you have a plan in place or buy on a whim?
My season plan is always to buy one or two pieces and then accessorise with what I already have. I’m not a huge tend follower but I like to dabble.
Do you regularly cull your wardrobe?
Yes!! I love nothing more than to clear the wardrobe and send boxes to charity or sell on Vestiaire. It cleanses me!
What was the last item of clothing you bought?
Saint Laurent blazer… it will always be in my wardrobe.
What’s your most tried and tested outfit when you have to run out the door?
Blazer, jeans and Gucci loafers.
If you had to pass on one piece of advice to new or expecting mums, what would it be?
A pair of maternity jeans and the rest of your wardrobe will follow. Don’t buy anything until you actually need to.
What do you love most about raising children in London?
It’s amazing what we have on our doorstep. The parks, the museums, the soft-plays and the community to meet and play with. Lots of people said to me how lonely being a new mum could be, but I managed to fill every day with something. And the days of maternity leave ran away!
Where are some of your favourite places to go to as a family?
London zoo is brilliant for any ages even the grown ups! Battersea Park Science museum is free and even kept my husband fascinated for hours.
Tanya’s Little List of Loves:
Netflix Fyre documentary – what the power of social media did there!
Pandora Sykes – I agree and support all she says and does.
MyHummy – baby sound whisperer.
TeddyOne – beautiful nursery furniture.
Micralite – best duo buggy! Wean in 15 book – best baby food ideas.