Lynne Meek is a personal stylist who runs www.stylingmatters.co.uk. She gives her take on the Tunbridge Wells fashion market.
How would you describe the style in Tunbridge Wells?
You generally won’t see people styling themselves in the high maintenance, glamour look that is the trademark of other parts of the country. On the whole we are a lot more discreet, relaxed and understated in the way we dress. There is an overall sense that quality, style and comfort is a higher priority than impractical or high end clothing.
What key items should we be investing in this autumn?
Top of most people’s wish lists are a great pair of flattering jeans – go for the best you can afford, you’ll really notice the difference, and there has never been so much choice in the shops. Next up – comfortable but fashionable footwear. This season there are masses of brogues, loafers, flatform lace-ups and ankle boots with block or low heels, so we won’t need to be teetering on the town’s cobblestones this season! Finally, a short coat or long jacket – go for a colour that really suits you in a wool, mohair, faux fur or, if you can afford it, this season’s huge story – shearling (suede and sheepskin).
Where are your go-to places in the town when it comes to getting great items?
I really love the shops in Tunbridge Wells and it’s vital we support them over large out of town shopping centres whenever we can. I particularly love our High Street due to its diversity, personal service and range of retailers. We have some wonderful independent boutiques, European retailers, knitwear shops, and retail chains. Once you add in all the different concessions within our department stores and our shoe retailers you can see why we really don’t need to leave our lovely town.
How has style changed and evolved in the town, and where do you think it’ll go in the future?
We have many people living in Tunbridge Wells who have moved here from London and of course it is also a busy commuter town for the capital. I think this has a big part to play in our awareness of fashion. I definitely notice a change in overall trendiness when I go to large towns further away from London. We also have the internet, social media and magazines to thank for inspiration. As for the future, I would hope that real shopping doesn’t lose out to virtual shopping.
I see so many internet shopping mistakes in clients’ wardrobes, and nothing beats touching, feeling and trying on clothes before you buy. As a town we are appealing to more upmarket retailers, and I can see this trend continuing
to grow over the next few years.
How do you think the town can increase its fashion presence?
I have organised three large charity fashion shows in Tunbridge Wells since 2012 and all were extremely well supported and attended – proving there is a lot of interest in fashion in the town. I personally would be delighted if there was a regular indoor marketplace for independent clothing, vintage, footwear and accessory designers and sellers to showcase their work. A bit like Spitalfields Market and in a venue like the Corn Exchange. How amazing would that be?