The Devil Wears…Whatever She Wants
Harriet Mays Powell is fashion director at New York Magazine and a former editor at Tatler. Her work has also appeared in Glamour and Elle magazines.
Question: What’s the worst job you’ve had in fashion?
Harriet Mays Powell: Well, I’ve worked for a couple of crazy people and that’s never very pleasant. Having an editor who changes their mind all the time is a very trying, disconcerting thing to live with because you just—you go left and suddenly they say no go right, and you say red and they say but we said blue. So, having an indecisive editor is a very painful thing in journalism I my experience. The most difficult job, God, I’ve had pretty great jobs. I didn’t love being an assistant. I just didn’t love the schlepping of the suitcases in the trunks and coming four hours later and having to get up there four hours earlier than everybody else and having to, you know, try and iron scary dresses and not do a good job. So, I didn’t—I knew I didn’t love being an assistant and I wanted to move out of that Schlep role. The schleppy role sooner rather than later.
Question: How do you choose what you wear day to day?
Harriet Mays Powell: God, you know, what? I look at the weather, and feel my mood and go into the closet and just make a pick. You know, I’m going off the question—so that’s a real considered thing because it’s a suitcase, it’s a finite amount of clothing, I have to pack for a season. I’m packing for the great cocktail party called the Fashion Week’s in Milan and Paris. I just look at the weather, and feel my mood, and go and—kind of go for it and hope that I’ve made the right decision. I have to say one of the biggest choices is, how are the heels going to be that day, or am I going for flats. So that will determine whether it’s a slightly more dressed up or slightly more casual point of view for the day.
Question: Do you ever feel poorly-dressed?
Harriet Mays Powell: Yes. Yeah, it’s that moment when you’ve got to say in the morning before you leave. " Okay, we’re good to go, I’m liking the outfit, I’m good." And then suddenly you think, "Oh God no. I’m so not right, this is so not what I should have been wearing. I’m too dressed up, I’m in feathers, and everyone else is going to be in T-shirts. I’m going to feel overly dressed." But I think one of the prerogatives of getting a little bit older is, I don’t care anymore. I’ve made my decision and this is what I’m going to wear. If I’m too dressed, I’m too dressy, oops. That’s okay. I’m a fashion editor. If I’m not dressed appropriately enough, well that’s just my personal style and choice that day. So, I think with experience comes a certain [French] way of making decisions and sticking with them and not caring as much.
Recorded On: September 22, 2009
Harriet Mays Powell tells us what it’s like to get dressed when you’re the one setting the trends.
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