When you read an article by Pandora Sykes, you get completely lost in her words. She has a way of telling a story, whether it’s about searching for non-saccharine florals or why she has an issue with the term clean-eating. Everything she writes about, she writes about it with style and substance and that’s why she’s such a wonderful journalist. Her words have graced the pages of numerous publications from The Debrief to I-D but these days, she uses her talents and skills in the role of Fashion Features Editor at The Sunday Times Style by day, and as blogger for pandorasykes.com by night.
Her Instagram is just a beautiful as her writing. It’s a mixture of colourful shots of her envious wardrobe showing her impeccable styling skills (Pandora has styled for the likes of Paloma Blue and Charlotte Simone) and her travels that will definitely leave you creating a wishlist of some sort. I pinched a few minutes with her to ask her all about her love for writing, her relationship with fashion and where she’s heading next. Pour yourself a cup of tea, sit back and read:
You’re currently the fashion features editor at The Sunday Times Style, what journey have you been on to get there?
I didn’t have a particularly straight forward trajectory – I jumped around, freelanced and in general just made sure I was doing as much as possible at all times. For example, in my previous role as Fashion Editor at The Debrief, I was also writing for publications like The Times and Company, and blogging at pandorasykes.com.
Your articles are always fantastic reads, whether it’s a fashion article or a piece on social commentary. What do you think makes a good writer?
Practice. I used to be super verbose (still am, if I’m honest) and love long pretentious sentences. But as my current editor has taught me, the cleaner the sentences, the stronger the written piece. I also think you have to find a distinct tone. And also, proof read! I get really annoyed when someone hasn’t bothered to edit their own work. It’s the hardest thing in the word to divorce yourself from the sentimentality of your words (you become welded to certain phrases or sentences that may be superfluous) but that’s why it’s such a rigorous, essential discipline.
Why did you want to become a writer and who or what inspired you?
I’ve never wanted to be anything else. I’ve been a voracious reader since I was tiny – my mum would get out 14 books for me a week at the local library because that was the maximum. I’ve been writing stories since I was 5. Some of them are really weird; I found one that I wrote aged 8. I was a small Chinese child whose parents had died in the war – it ended with me losing my legs. My writing now is a little more optimistic.
When it comes to writing, it’s important to have your own voice. What advice would you give to writers who are trying to find theirs?
I don’t think you can really ‘learn’ a voice; it should be ingrained. You can help by honing your craft for want of a better expression. So read a lot, write a lot, figure out what kind of thing you want to convey in your writing. Humour is very important to me; as is thoughtfulness. So that’s what I strive for in tone.
In your article “Instagram: A tool to verify your choices”, you mention how it’s becoming quite persuasive when it comes to making fashion choices. How else do you think social media is influencing and changing our relationship with fashion?
It’s vastly changed the regular (and by that I mean, those who are not in the industry) person’s interaction with fashion and style. Before the advent of social media you were either ‘into fashion’ or you weren’t. Now it’s not nearly so elitist and people who aren’t necessarily into fashion will follow bloggers or designers on Instagram and find themselves developing their own sense of personal style that they might not have had the confidence or resources to have done before. It’s also made ‘normal girls’ into celebrities by dint of having a blog. That’s massively changed the landscape every which way.
What does style mean to you and how would you describe yours?
Personal style is exactly that – personal and an expression of you. I don’t like dressing like everyone else; fashion (and by proxy, trends who encourage unity) can be quite homogenous in that sense. I like to mix vintage, designer and high street and I try and have a careful rather than exhaustive approach to my style – so don’t wear things that don’t suit me. Don’t buy something just because it’s cool. And don’t shop relentlessly on the high street; invest in things I will wear for a long time and maybe, one day, pass on to my daughter. I still shop too much, though!
How do you put an outfit together? Do you tend to plan ahead or spontaneously pick pieces an hour before?
Sometimes I will wear something an think ooooh I like this, I want to shoot this for my blog. But in general I just get brief snatches of time before work or on the weekend when I will cobble together a bunch of my favourite new things. I enjoy the process of introducing new things into my wardrobe to work with the existing.
What is your all-time favourite trend?
Eeeeek. The seventies, probably. Horribly on trend, that is. But I have been into that decade, to be fair, for a long time. I had a ton of vintage suede jackets and skirts from eBay. Also love the little mod sixties silhouette of polo neck and A-Line mini and anything folkloric and beautifully detailed without being too girly.
Do you have any wardrobe essentials?
White shirts, Gucci brown ankle boots, vintage suede skirts, polonecks and Bella Freud knits. For summer, off the shoulder blouses and dresses and anything by Reformation.
As well as writing about fashion and social commentary, you cover your travels on your blog too. Out of all the places you’ve visited, which one was the most stylish?
In terms of locale, the Amalfi coast. Heavenly. In terms of the people, Venice Beach in LA or Copenhagen.
What about London – where are your favourite places to take friends who are visiting the city?
I often think what I would do in London if I was a tourist. I’d probably have a much more diversified experience of the city than I do now as an inhabitant. Our parks and green spaces are pretty wonderful so I’d recommend Hampstead Heath, Hyde Park or Primrose Hill. Eating, I love The Shed, Maggie Jones and Gymkhana. On the high street, can’t beat Topshop’s flagship store and Liberty’s. Portobello market is on my doorstep and I like wandering down it to Golbourne Road. Also Tate Modern and the National History Museum. But honestly I could go on for hours!
What’s next for you?
Who knows! I’ve never seen what’s coming next – and that’s what makes life exciting. But for now, more writing, more styling, more growing my blog and in my role at The Sunday Times Style. And getting married next year, that’s also a new step.