Phoebe Lovatt: The Fabric Of My Working Life
As founder of professional platforms The WWClub and Phoebe Lovatt's Public Library, and the author of The Working Woman's Handbook and the recently released Work Ethics, Phoebe Lovatt is an expert on the modern working world. With a career that has taken her from her hometown in London to Los Angeles and New York, Phoebe’s impressive CV is built around her knack for staying ahead of the game in the professional landscape. We asked Phoebe to reflect on her impressive career journey, as told through the lens of her constant wardrobe companion: denim.
Denim might have originally been invented as durable workwear for manual labourers, but it has become the unofficial uniform for all our working lives. Allow me to share a brief history of my own career to date, as told through the jeans I wore at the time.
THE FLARED YEARS
I began my working life as a precocious teenager in the early 2000s, interning in marketing departments and on magazines. At the time, my jean of choice was just as cheeky: Super-stretch, super-wide flares with a three-inch rise. Most days, I paired these with a lace-trimmed pointelle camisole (remember those?), tied at the back to showcase my dangling belly-button piercing (remember those?). From the years 2003-2007, it seemed essential that my lower abdomen was exposed at all times - and if I bent down carelessly, there would be a flash of my underwear to complete the look. It was an intrepid ensemble for someone looking to make a positive first impression in the office, but I seemed to get away with it. Fortune favours the bold! Or something like that.
THE SKINNY JEAN YEARS
After graduating, I landed a job as the digital editor for a global hospitality group. Every day I would head into the office in London’s Soho, feeling pretty sassy. The moment called for skin-tight skinny jeans, worn with a ‘nice top’ and heels: At 23, I had decided I was ‘too old’ for trainers and was going through a (mercifully brief) stage of wearing four-inch ankle boots everyday – not ideal when sprinting for the 38 bus, but a necessary sacrifice in the name of my new professional persona, I felt.
THE CLASSIC YEARS
In 2012, I moved to LA and everything changed. Suddenly I was mostly working from home as a freelance journalist and driving everywhere else – a shift which had an unsettling effect on my personal style, to say the least. Dear reader, I began wearing wide brim fedoras.
But let’s focus on the positive. This was the era right before ‘mom jeans’ became totally ubiquitous and you could still pick up a pair of pristine Levi's 501s in an LA thrift store for $10. I fully embraced a classic, Californian aesthetic, adopting a uniform of faded denim and soft white tees as I bounced between coffee shops with my laptop. My commitment to this look became so serious that I once ordered a bulk bundle of 12 pairs of 501’s on eBay, and wore them in daily rotation for the next few years. The number of wide brim fedoras I also accumulated at this time is something I will take to my grave.
THE STATEMENT YEARS
I moved to New York in 2015, where it became immediately clear that ‘jeans and a tee’ was not a sufficiently refined look for the nonstop meetings and general peacocking that working life in the big city entails. Denim took a bit of a backseat as I entered my ‘statement trouser’ phase: Pepto-Bismol pink cropped flares, leather bootcut pants, herringbone slacks, silky, navy blue wide legs. The jeans I owned at this time were worn to communicate something to the world: super-fashionable, stonewashed Off-White flares that I picked up at a photoshoot.
THE EASY YEARS
I’m currently transitioning into a new era of my life and career, and my taste in denim is changing again, too. These days I’m drawn to silhouettes that signal comfort and ease; the relaxed, 70s-style flares that have made a recent comeback, pleated ‘90s styles, and boyfriend jeans worn oversized, with shirts and flats. When it comes to both my career and my clothing, sustainability and quality have become more important than ever, and denim still feels the natural choice. At a stage when I’m trying to focus on - and shop for - things that will be around for the long-haul, I can see that nothing has worked harder than my jeans.
Words by Phoebe Lovatt
Design by Axel Swan