Tuesday, 17 April 2012

My High St Style Secrets

She began by embroidering her own rather racy see-through blouses – then wowed Hollywood with her effortless style. Here, actress Jane Seymour tells Fiona Hicks how to do fashion the easy way…

Written by Fiona Hicks
Helen Mirren wowed the world when she was snapped in a red bikini. Twiggy outshines her younger counterparts in the Marks & Spencer campaign. Mary Portas has launched a retail campaign to get the over-40s back in frocks. After years of being forgotten, it seems the older woman is now taking centre stage in the world of fashion.

Jane Seymour has been quietly embracing the cause for three years – as the face of British brand CC.

I meet Ms Seymour at London's glamorous The Westbury. She floats into the room, looking beautiful, diminutive and completely at ease. She is clearly not a lady who is trying to cling desperately to her youth, but rather one who has spent the past 60 years simply taking very good care of herself.

But with a successful Hollywood career, what made her take to modelling with the comparatively low-key CC? 'It's simple,' she smiles, 'I genuinely like the clothes and wear them in real life. They are fashion forward, which is important. They allow you to be stylish without making you look like you've rummaged through your teenage daughter's wardrobe.'

Jane certainly doesn't look like she's done any rummaging. She is immaculate in a blue shift dress, discreet jewellery and understated black peep-toe slingbacks. 'The dress I'm wearing right now is from one of the least expensive labels in America today,' she whispers. 'They copy Roland Mouret. I laugh because at red-carpet events I'm often in the dupe version of a dress, while Michelle Pfeiffer is in the original. Mine will be 10 times less expensive, but I'll still make the best-dressed lists!'

Jane is not averse to spending money on beautiful clothes, but she has always had a practical eye for these things. Working on American TV show Franklin & Bash, she outsmarted the entire costume department with her recommendations. 'I went for a costume fitting and they were looking for long, slightly hippy skirts for the characters,' she says. 'I realised they couldn't buy anything that even came close to what I already had for my CC collection. So I just brought them in!'

CC is only sold on British shores, but it has made an appearance in another of Jane's movies, Love, Wedding, Marriage. 'The Americans love it,' she says.

In her line of work Jane has access to items that others can only dream of. 'I'm very lucky. In America I can borrow from pretty much any major designer – that's just what everybody does.' But the increased exposure does come with its drawbacks. 'I adore polka dots and stripes. They look wonderful in real life but on a television they just don't work, because you get terrible strobing. Sadly, I have to steer clear of those patterns.'

The secret to Jane's style is knowing and accepting what works for her. 'I wear a lot of sleeveless shirt dresses, usually in block colours. I have a long back and shorter legs so choose things that make it less obvious where my waist is. There's no great mystery: I simply wear things to make my body look the best that it can look.'

Any woman can become more confident in what she wears, says Jane, if she is honest with herself. 'Take a good look in the mirror and decide which are the bits you like and which are the bits you'd prefer to hide. Everyone has that – I know I do.'

With a global lifestyle (she lives in LA, has lots of family in the UK and travels extensively for work), the Golden Globe-winning star has perfected the art of dressing for any occasion. 'When I'm in England I really enjoy the hunting/shooting/fishing look,' she beams. 'I just love the tweed and the beautiful cashmere and the boots. When I'm in New York, I go for little black dresses and in California I wear white jeans a lot. They're effortlessly chic.'

Jane doesn't let her style falter en route to locations, either. 'I have some very simple, long, full dresses that I wear when travelling. I like them because they're comfortable: in aeroplanes I can literally curl up in them and still look elegant.'

Fashion can often seem intimidating, Jane realises, but she says that the key is never to lose sight of the fact that its primary function is to give you pleasure. She allows herself to take risks with her sartorial choices. 'I never thought I would wear leopard print, but now I love it. It's fun and just a little bit naughty. Dolce & Gabbana line all their clothes with it – so even if you're wearing a very demure dress you know that there is silk leopard print inside. It always feels delightfully wicked.'

Clothing can also have a surprising effect on our mood – something that Jane knows well. 'If I'm not feeling good  and have to pull my act together, I put on something red. It never fails to perk me up.'

As we chat, it becomes clear that her interest in fashion is no superficial fancy. She exudes passion when speaking of fabrics, clothing lines and the clever cuts of dresses. Where does her knowledge come from?

'Well, I used to design and make all my own clothes,' she reveals. In fact, it seems her career could have taken a different direction entirely. 'When I was growing up there was a fashion for see-through blouses. I was never comfortable with showing off everything like some, so I embroidered my blouses with images of the British Great Tit on the critical areas!' Her innovativeness was quickly noticed. 'Browns on South Molton Street liked my designs and I ended up selling my wares there.'

Her innate style – along with her natural beauty – catapulted Jane to stardom. Her first acting role was in Richard Attenborough's Oh! What A Lovely War, which led to television parts and her acclaimed appearance as Solitaire in Live And Let Die. Jane has not lost an ounce of Bond Girl glamour – or box-office bankability – in the intervening 40 years.

As our time comes to a close, Jane mentions that she is off to spend the day with her sisters. Typically à la mode, she whips out her iPad and shows me some photos of her family. As she flicks through, images of her equally attractive sisters, husband and children cause her smile to widen, photo by photo.

And just like that, on top of her enviable style, it becomes clear that happiness is the best accessory of all.

How to get the look


  • Spend money unnecessarily. 'One of my secret sports is pairing existing items in my wardrobe with contemporary pieces.'
  • Be a slave to fashion. 'It is not the same as style. There is nothing less chic than looking like mutton dressed as lamb.'
  • Dress too fussily. 'Less really is more. I can't bear it when a dress is wearing a woman, as opposed to the other way round.'


  • Know what works for you. 'I pick clothes to play up the parts I like and play down the parts I don't. And I can't wear lemon yellow, no matter how much I'd like to.'
  • Care for your clothes. 'I still wear my Missoni knit dresses from 25 years ago.'
  • Wear white with black. 'There's a reason Chanel did so well with white collars. White reflects on to your face and makes you look younger.'

Forgot your password?
Click to read our digital edition

Boarders Dormitory Master-Mistress
We are looking to appoint a Dormitory Mistress/Master for 5 nights per week, weekday evenings and nights only, term time. (35 weeks). [...]


Housekeeper to Headmaster
We have an opportunity for an experienced live-out housekeeper. You will provide a cleaning and hospitality service for the Headmaster and his guests and help to ensure the household runs efficiently. [...]


Full Time Housekeeper, Nanny
We are looking for a full time, live-out housekeeper/nanny. We are a relaxed young couple living in a large country house, and will have one newborn baby. [...]


Experienced Carer, Companion, Housekeeper needed
Our elderly mother needs a live in carer/companion on a part time basis. Must be warm hearted, calm & compassionate, with a good sense of humour. [...]


Cook, Housekeeper wanted
Good cooking skills required to cater for light meals for the Principal and a small staff, as well as occasional lunch/dinner parties. [...]




What the stars have in store for you this week.2017

Capricorn Aquarius Pisces Aries Taurus Gemini Cancer Leo Virgo Libra Scorpio Sagittarius

Sign up to receive our weekly newsletter