‘Breton or black?’ If the tiny voice in your wardrobe has little else to ask of you these days, then meet Tessa Frost: wardrobe editor, curator, confidant and founder of bespoke personal styling consultancy, Fig & Frost.
FOUNDER: Tessa Frost
Shop with you, shop for you (Tessa’s new Pret à Porter service means she brings rails of clothes to your home), or use your current pieces to create new outfits – gentle, practical and with a gorgeous sense of style she is the independent, knowledgeable friend we all need to spend some time with.
Formerly the preserve of a leisurely Saturday afternoon, big jobs and small children can crush our once-beloved shopping time into panic-buys and fruitless circling of the internet. And after the fashion vacuum that early motherhood can prove, finding the time and energy to start afresh is virtually impossible to do alone. Something which, as a mother of two, Tessa knows all too well.
‘I set up the business having had my children and then feeling that what I used to wear just didn’t work. I knew I felt better when I was in the right clothes. I want to inspire other women to feel good about themselves. It’s not about spending lots of money but putting my time and thought into how you want to present yourself. What I hope to do is instil confidence.’
Indeed at a recent event, Tessa was unsurprised to find so many women spend far more on their children’s wardrobes than their own. ‘I think we have to be brave enough to invest time and money for ourselves. And my clients have busy lives. They are taking time off to be with me so I definitely feel the pressure to get it right – and its so important that my clients have lots of fun, that we find beautiful things and that they get value out of the budget, whether high end or high street.’
During a ‘Wardrobe Workout’, Tessa works with clients on their existing wardrobe, putting new ideas together, then takes photos of the winning looks to save them time going forward. ‘Clothes can be tools we use to feel prepared and together. I also want to make it easy for people.’ Otherwise, shop with Tessa – included is a pre-shop she does the day before to make the most of your time together.
With a strong background in visual arts and a career spanning time at the Tate, Tate Britain and the V&A the question was how to make this passion and love of fashion work come together in business. And so, two years ago, Tessa completed a Diploma in Personal Styling at the London College of Style. ‘I had always styled friends and was a bit of a shopaholic with a creative eye but didn’t know I could translate that into a business. The course was great – I loved it all.’
A growing client book, most of whom have come through recommendation, is testament not only to Tessa’s style, discretion but also her interest in people as much as the pieces themselves. ‘Personality has a lot to do with what I choose for clients. I can say what suits, but its about who they are as people, and taking a holistic view of them, along with their jobs and lifestyles. There can be really transformative moments when we find the perfect dress. I love what I do – I’m passionate about it.’
Already working closely with independent brands such as the concept store ‘A Luxe Story’ and Ille de Cocos, the future for Fig & Frost partnerships and corporate styling events looks rosy.
So, if the last time you shopped was with a grocery trolley, book a day off for some cathartic, cleansing, fun. You might just save time, energy, money and a little bit of self.
What is – or has been – your greatest struggle? Starting my own business, though I’d call it a ‘challenge’ rather than a struggle because I’ve loved every minute of it, despite the ups and downs. I re-trained after 15 years in another industry and taking time out to have my children. Setting up in a new sector, establishing my reputation and network, and building a client base from scratch in a totally new and demanding environment has been exciting, terrifying and liberating all at the same time.
What did you want to be when you were growing up? A professional windsurfer/beach bum! (I’m still a beach lover but sadly never made the grade on the windsurfing front.)
Best advice ever received and from whom? “Happiness is a state of mind” was something my Grandmother used to say. Her zest for life all the way into her 90s taught me so much about being positive and seeing the best in things.
Who do you most admire? Livia Firth for all her incredible work supporting sustainable fashion and championing the rights of 3rd world factory workers in the fashion industry.
What keeps you up at night? All the things on my ever-growing fashion wishlist…(don’t get me started!)
When were you happiest? It would have to be on a beach. Maybe on holiday in Nevis in the Caribbean with my husband, watching the pelicans diving into the water, sipping a Killer Bee cocktail and wearing my favourite Melissa Odabash coral bikini.
Favourite object you possess? My vintage Valentino, electric blue satin Victoriana-style blouse. A gift from my Mother-in-law who bought and wore it in the 70s. She modeled and has impeccable taste and style. It’s beautifully cut, goes with everything and the blue is exquisite.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Fabulous. Boutique. Gorgeous. Amazing. Beautiful.
What is the most important lesson life has taught you? Always stay open-minded, curious and non-judgemental as every experience can teach you something if you let it.
What is your guiltiest pleasure? Shoe shopping at the wonderful, independent boutique Elle et Elle in Beaulieu sur Mer, Cote d’Azur, coming away with at least 3 pairs every time. (They don’t have a website, they don’t need one!)
What change do you hope for in your lifetime? I would like my daughters to be treated fairly and have the same opportunities as men in whatever careers they choose. I don’t know if that’s possible in my lifetime, but I’m keeping hopeful.
Who might help you next? My wonderful sister who I’m hoping to persuade to be my new Communications, Social Media and Digital Director.
Please recommend a brilliant female-led brand or business you have used recently.
Ille de Cocos – a beautiful, luxury but understated knitwear brand, run by the amazing and inspiring Deola Charles. I love the simplicity of her designs and they are so easy to wear. She only launched 2 years ago but her pieces are already being sold in Harvey Nichols.