Ruth Chapman_1280
Ruth Chapman photo: Telegraph

Meet my new favourite style phrase: Stealth Fashion. I read about it in the Sunday Times. The stealthy love easy elegance and pared-down essentials; prefer under-the-radar to look-at-me. Ruth Chapman co-counder of was one of the stealth dressers mentioned in the feature, and also one of the Inspirational Women I interviewed for Style Forever (out in the USA today, whoop!). We had lunch last summer and really hit it off. Ruth – who is even chicer in real life – told me that she tends towards normcore, masculine dressing and comfort. But there’s always a highlight ‘something artisanal or blingy worn in an irreverent way.’ In the case of these photos, make that a pair of burgundy suede heels. What impressed me most about Ruth was her lovely, warm personality and attitude towards life, ‘It’s about having a good balance between work, life, friends and fun; laughter is important. I also think being kind to people is important. It’s something we should learn early on.’

Photo: Coveteur


Here’s my stealthy selection:

Sunday Times Style also had a great quote from designer Luella Bartley, who together with Katie Hillier has set up new label Hillier Bartley:

‘Society has changed. We’re much more interested now in what women wear into middle age and beyond…women of our age, indie at heart, rakish and irreverent, who are maturing into refinement and naturalness.’

Nicely summed up. I like the idea of rakish refinement, do you?

There’s a link to the piece HERE but because of the Times paywall, unless you’re a subscriber only the intro is on view.

24 thoughts on “Stealth Fashion

  1. Not my idea of A Rake’s Progress. Sorry ladies, rakes are men despite these definitions I see not limiting them as male only. AW, first your cheer Dame Judi Dench as the best ‘M’ ever (even typing that makes me cringe) and now you’re going to be party to this silly designer ridiculous rhetorical affectations….but those outfits are quite fab…esp those pumps!!!

    1. Now, now. “Rake” is also a nautical term, as I’m sure a gentleman of your refinement knows, and one definition of “rakish” is “dashingly or sportingly stylish; jaunty”. OK, I will give you that it derives from the common definition of “rake” & not the nautical, but I rather like it. I usually tend to be quite a purist when it comes to language — I’m a writer — but also love a jolt of colour. And speaking of jolts of colour: I agree about the shoes — wow!

  2. SUBJECT: ASOS WHITE Roll Neck Jumper in Cashmere $170.19

    I am interested in the denim trousers shown with the cashmere jumper. Would you provide more information: 1) source, 2) cost?

    Thank you.


  3. Rakish refinement; subtle and smart. Yes, I like it. Of course, I was thinking more jaunty, less licentious. It’s so tedious accessorizing a roue. My copy of Style Forever arrives tomorrow; I can hardly wait. Kindness rules.

  4. I like her style,and the phrase,too. Well, it is pleasure to know what suits you and to wear something that accent you and your personality and not only to show off the clothes
    I like your eclectism of themes very much

  5. Lovely elegant clothes and lovely on Ruth Chapman but I think you have to be careful with ‘normcore, masculine dressing and comfort’ as they’re just a sliver away from boring. Personally, I’m on the side of standing out and being noticed – and bringing on the bling, within reason, of course, but just don’t be boring! For instance, take away the red pumps and what have you got – jeans and a jumper (sigh) which is what everyone wears.

  6. I love Sarah Chapman’s look because she’s a woman of a certain age with white hair – and I am too! Still not enough of them around. However I don’t think classic burgundy courts are the stand-out element. Rather it is the cross-body bag which when this photo was taken – a few years ago – was quite new and modern. I also agree with other commentators that the norm core look has to be carefully handled in mid-life. It depends on our shape, colouring and overall appearance. Sometimes I think more feminine clothing can look better. I always think Ms Chapman looks great in colourful frocks from Erdem et al.

  7. over 2 grand for a pair of trousers? you must be off your rocker – how many women can afford the kind of clothes seen here?
    You’re losing your relevance when you recommend clothes only a handful of privileged women can wear.

  8. Since we’re borrowing from the boys already… boyfriend jeans, jackets, shirts…why not the words used to describe them…i.e. “rakish?” I will strive to look rakish in my menswear inspired jackets and shirts from now on. Did you read Lisa Armstrong ‘s witty article in the September issue of Bazaar? She says among other things that there are “only two important trends we need to keep in mind right now: womanly and manly.” And that the secret is to mix them.
    P.S. Love those burgundy pumps.

  9. Love Sarah Chapman’s style – for her. On me – big boobs, short legs – they’d make me look like an escaped KGB interrogator.

    You’re right, AW, to say that we shouldn’t be rule bound at our age: by that, I mean there are no general rules. But we all have our own rules, based on wisdom gained through long experience and , in my case, some very expensive mistakes, about what is most flattering on us as individuals. i tend to stick to simple, well-made classics in good fabrics and avoid looking boring (I hope) with fabulous accessories – not more than one or two at a time.

  10. Drin – to my knowledge I haven’t included a pair of two grand trousers. I always try to have a good range of prices so, apologies but I’m not quite sure what you’re talking about…

    1. link to the Times has a picture of 3 elegant women wearing over 13 thousand pounds worth of clobber, including some trousers (one thousand one hundred pounds).

  11. I love her outfit and Rakish Refinement would be pretty much what I aim for almost all the time. Sometimes way more rake than refined, but I’m getting used to my wild and casual self. Thanks for this post. Sometimes I feel like quite the anomaly.

  12. Drin – that’s the Times, the clothes I have featured on my site are much more affordable. Nowhere do I suggest buying head-to-toe designer fashion.

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