Fashion tips and advice Essex’s most stylish influencers

The clothes we wear say a lot about who we are and have the power to improve our mood. Rachael Perrett talks to four Essex fashion lovers about how their style reflects them as a person and how the county has played a part in their look

Claire Hall of @ clubforty.claire

Claire Hall of @ clubforty.claire
– Credit: Indre Kriau

CLAIRE HALL @ clubforty.claire

Bold and outgoing, fashion blogger, influencer and personal stylist Claire Hall’s style is a visual expression of her personality as well as her mood. Based in Brightlingsea, her Essex upbringing has no doubt had an influence too.

‘I think that generally the’ Essex ‘approach to style has impacted my own approach: always placing importance on how I present myself,’ Claire tells us. ‘As a young girl, I used to save my pocket money and get the train to Romford market to buy clothes.

Claire Hall in pink

Dress for your mood!
– Credit: Indre Kriau

‘Today, my style is quite eclectic – I don’t adhere to a specific style personality because I dress for my mood, and that’s constantly changing! I love to experiment with styles as well, and I often wear color to either reflect or lift my mindset. ‘

When creating looks, Claire is influenced by what’s around her as well as current trends, seeking inspiration on Instagram, Pinterest and through fashion content online and in magazines. She also loves the ’70s aesthetic, which often creeps into her various looks. Ultimately, Claire dresses for herself in a way that reflects who she is, and she encourages others to do the same.

Claire Hall in poncho

Claire was influenced by a ’70s aesthetic
– Credit: Indre Kriau

‘Finding your own style and confidence is all about understanding yourself, and dressing in a way that feels authentic to you,’ Claire says. ‘Understanding your body shape and how clothes hang on your frame and balance your proportions is key. Then tapping into the way clothes make you feel will really help to build style confidence. If you feel amazing in a particular outfit, then take time to consider why it makes you feel good and replicate this with other outfits. Great style is accessible to everyone, but it is a skill, and for some it just needs a little practice. ‘

Banks Gatward in yellow outfit

Banks run her jewelery business alongside being an accountant and fashion influencer
– Credit: Banks Gatward


Besides working as an accountant, Banke balances running a jewelery business (Monica.B) with inspiring others through her personal style on social media. She’s all about the elevated-casual look that’s easily attainable and relatively affordable, opting for a more pared-back look when out and about locally.

‘I like the idea of ​​having a wardrobe that’s functional for my lifestyle,’ Banke tells us. ‘This way, I get to wear most of the pieces in my wardrobe and style them in various ways. I mix high street with designer pieces, and I pay a lot of attention to details such as jewelery. I’m not afraid to try different silhouettes, colors and textures, and I steer away from obvious trends most of the time. ‘

Gatward Bank

Don’t be afraid of different colors and silhouettes
– Credit: Banks Gatward

Based in Harlow, Banke is influenced by retro culture as well as the local country way of life, which translates into a timeless style. ‘I get inspiration in many places and spaces, by both internal and external realities,’ she explains. ‘Fashion shows, magazines, music and movies from the 80s and 90s are my main sources of inspiration, as I’m drawn to both eras, as well as culture, nature and lifestyle.

‘I believe that years from now, my clothes will still be wearable and relevant. I would like to look back and still think “I can wear that now” and not “What was I thinking?”! But ultimately, I believe what makes anyone unique is the confidence they exude in the clothes they wear. ‘

Gatward Bank

Banks goes for an elevated-casual look
– Credit: Banks Gatward

So, what style of advice would Banks give to others to help them feel confident? ‘Never dress up for others; it should always be about you. If you are not sure who you are just yet, create an image of what you would like your future self to look like, and then start curating a wardrobe from there. ‘

Joe Ottoway

Joe was a semi-pro footballer before working in fashion
– Credit: Fran Calderon

JOE OTTAWAY @joeottaway

An Essex boy from Loughton, Joe started life as a semi-pro footballer before working his way up the ranks of men’s fashion styling. Today, he’s a leading men’s fashion stylist and image consultant, and in April 2022, he will celebrate the launch of his menswear brand, J. Ottaway.

Old-school and family-oriented, Joe’s upbringing plays a big part in his look, which he describes as ‘a balance between timeless, classic style and a contemporary nod to the here-and-now’.

Joe Ottoway

Menswear brand J.Ottaway launches this month
– Credit: Fran Calderon

‘I have always been heavily influenced by the world of sartorialism [the tailoring of clothing]and take inspiration from icons of yesteryear like Gianni Agnelli, Steve McQueen, Robert Redford and Paul Newman, ‘Joe says.

‘Being lucky enough to travel across Europe has also influenced my style, as I experience a lot of diverse cultures and styles. I have also been lucky to meet and work with lots of people who are from Essex, who have all had some type of influence on my looks and career. But the biggest influence has been the way of life my parents created for me. At a young age, I always loved fashion, but wasn’t the type of guy to follow the crowd when it came to style. My mum and dad always encouraged that and gave me the confidence to not feel I had to blend in with the crowd. ‘

Joe Ottoway

Joe takes inspiration from style icons of yesteryear
– Credit: Fran Calderon

It’s this confidence that Joe hopes others can feel through their personal style, suggesting a signature look that works every time and, most importantly, suits you. ‘It’s really important to consider your body shape,’ he points out. ‘Clothes should fit you properly and this means knowing what suits your physique, then identifying a signature style that you want to channel. Don’t be dictated by so-called on-trend moments – be confident with your own style. ‘

Laura Tuesday of @dressingthrifty

Laura is a self-described style chameleon
– Credit: Laura Tuesday

LAURA TUESDAY @dressingthrifty

A full-time personal assistant, Dunmow-based Laura has loved fashion since she was a child, when her grandmother would kit her out in trendy outfits. Today, Laura is a self-described style chameleon, experimenting with different looks, colors and genres of fashion.

‘Most of my wardrobe is pre-loved, so I have a few vintage pieces that I love because they’re so unique,’ Laura says. ‘I am an old soul, which is why I am so fond of vintage styles. I like to wear things that are fun and a bit different, as this reflects my personality. Life’s too short to wear boring clothes! ‘

Like many fashion lovers, Laura seeks inspiration from Pinterest and Instagram, and particularly enjoys recreating catwalk looks with charity-shop finds. She says, ‘Local charity shops in Essex, such as Farleigh Hospice and Havens Hospices, have a wealth of vintage, high street, designer and even new pieces – I love finding gems there. I also find inspiration from other second-hand shoppers on Instagram, such as fellow Essex girl @mrsd_preloved_finds, @preloved_blnode and @ lookfabulous.forless. ‘

Designer fashion recreated with vintage finds

Designer fashion can be recreated with vintage finds
– Credit: Laura Tuesday

Enamoured with bright colors and patterns, Laura hopes others can find the confidence to step out of their comfort zone to try new styles. ‘If you’re not sure of your style or how to find confidence in what you wear, then set up a board on Pinterest,’ she suggests. ‘Save photos of outfits that you like or create a vision board of outfits you’ve seen in magazines. See what clothes you have in your wardrobe and look online to see if you can style them in different ways. You can also look in your local charity shops for ideas. Most of all, wear what you love and feel comfortable in. If I like my outfit, then I’ll have a good day! ‘

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