The fashion journalist discusses college fashion, selfies, and her new book, Front Roe.
As a fashion journalist and style guru who has hosted several style shows on television such as Plain Jane and The Clothes Show, Louise Roe has helped countless women uncover their most fabulous selves.
“Part of why I love fashion so much is the power that it has to give women a boost of confidence,” says Louise in her blog at LouiseRoe.com. “We often don’t give ourselves enough credit, and a great dress or a new jacket really can have the power to make us stop and appreciate ourselves for a minute.”
In her blog, Louise pairs colorful and eye-catching photographs with her articles on fashion, beauty, and lifestyle. Every time I visit her blog, I walk away feeling inspired to boldly present my best self to the world.
Recently, Louise Roe spoke with College News about her new book, Front Roe: How to Be the Leading Lady in Your Own Life. Louise also shared her thoughts on college fashion, her blog, selfies, the allure of French women, and her tips for college students on landing your first internship. Her wonderful sense of humor and enthusiasm for helping women with their style made the conversation fun and insightful. Below is the interview:
COLLEGE NEWS: You were from the UK originally, and now you’re living in Los Angeles. How was the transition like when you first moved to LA?
LOUISE ROE: That’s right. I’m from just outside London. To be honest, I had been out here a lot for work. I was working for Vogue at the time in England as a reporter, and I used to report on the Oscars, and the Grammys out here. It wasn’t completely a total shock to me. I already knew LA and I liked it a lot, so it’s a very nice lifestyle–it’s not hard getting used to waking up in the sunshine everyday.
CN: The traffic is so insane though! How do you manage?
LR: I know! Well, I live in West Hollywood on purpose, because it’s close to everywhere I need to be, pretty much. But otherwise, it’s a nightmare. I’d love to live on the beach. But it’s like you say, the traffic is awful.
CN: Before we start talking about your book, I wanted to mention that I visited your blog and I love how your “Ask Louise” section helps readers who aspire to work in the fashion industry. How does it feel like to have people who look to you for advice?
LR: Thank you! It is really flattering, and honestly that’s why I wrote the book. The book is an extension of the blog or the blog is an extension of the book, I don’t know which, but I wanted the two to be very synonymous.
Even the opening page, and the back of the cover, is a collage of all my favorite Instagram shots. A lot of pictures in the book are Instagram shots. I wanted it to feel kind of like the blog.
Over the years, I realized that advice is the thing that people want from me the most, whether it’s style or confidence, or beauty as well, or even interior design. So I thought, I want to put all my answers in one place, and not only give tips, but really detailed tips that I’ve learned from being backstage at Fashion Week or having makeup artists tell me insider stuff that other people might not have access to. I’d like to share that.
CN: What audience did you have in mind when putting together Front Roe? I imagine that it includes people who have asked you for advice already, your blog readers…
LR: Yeah! Exactly, my blog readers, and it really varies–I’ve got a big audience that’s in their teens and early 20s, like college grad age. I host a show called Plain Jane on TV, and the viewer of that is really quite young.
And then I have a show in TLC which skews a little older, so more like the “mom” age.
It’s a nice mix, and there are guys that follow me too–not too many–but there are some. I try to talk to everyone like I would talk to my girlfriends.
CN: In your opinion, what was the most difficult part of making the book?
LR: Honestly, I enjoyed the whole thing. I think that perhaps the hardest part was the deadline because I was filming very long days for a show in Asia in the hottest, most humid weather you could ever imagine! Like, forget Florida, this is times 20. [Laughs.]
I was having to write at the end of those days, and I would be like, “Okay. Double espresso. Let’s go.” [Laughs.] But in terms of the actual writing and getting pictures together, it was really fun, so none of that was hard.
CN: You look so pretty in the photos in the book. I really loved the picture of you wearing tangerine lipstick near the section about selecting lipsticks.
LR: Ah, yes, with the camera! Thank you.
CN: What tips do you have for your readers on how to look good in photos?
LR: I actually just did a piece on the blog on how to take a good selfie, because I feel that, like it or not, modern society has become a little bit selfie-obsessed. In the piece, I talk about how you should place the camera, always a little bit higher than you. Make sure you tilt your chin slightly to the side, slightly down, and then small smile.
I don’t like the duck pout. [Laughs.] I think the duck pout just isn’t friendly. But equally, a huge smile sometimes is not as flattering, so you want your mouth to semi-smile.
More than anything, just have fun in your pictures. I love all the photos that capture emotions, whether you’re jumping up and down, or eating ice cream… Take lots, because the more you take, the better chance you’ll find one that you like.
CN: A lot of style books out there tend to idealize French women, instructing readers on how to be more like them. What’s your view of the French mystique?
LR: I am also pretty obsessed with French women. I think that they have a simplicity to their style, but also, an attitude. They’re confident, or they appear so confident in how they carry themselves. And really, that’s what style is.
I’ve seen French women in skinny blue jeans, flat loafers, and a white shirt, and somehow they are the chicest women ever. The fit is perfect, they’ll roll the sleeves just perfectly, they’ll have a cute little pair of sunglasses…So it’s not what they wear, but how they wear it.
CN: A lot of people cite Audrey Hepburn as a style inspiration. Which style icons have influenced your personal style the most?
LR: Slightly later ones in the ’70s. I always look to women like Laura Hutton and Ali MacGraw for inspiration. They were glamorous, but in a very understated way, like denim jeans and a T-shirt. They just have this “effortless cool” to them. I love messy hair!
CN: In the introduction to Front Roe, you mention how your grandmother didn’t need a lot of money to look glamorous. Can you tell us more about how she inspired your vision of what it means to live stylishly?
LR: Absolutely! I think any woman of that generation who went through the war certainly knows how to make the most of what they’ve got. There was an etiquette back then, where you did wear gloves to go to the grocery store. They didn’t even have supermarkets back then.
You would not be seen dead, even if you spent the day at home cooking, without your lipstick on. Not that it has to be a literal copy of that–we wouldn’t wear gloves to go to Ralph’s, but I think it’s the idea of taking care of yourself and being just a bit more polished than perhaps you think you should.
I love the cool chicks who have chipped nail polish to look like punk rockers, but that is just not me, and I like it when you just make the effort. I think it’s glamorous.
CN: What are your fashion pet peeves?
LR: Pet peeves–I think that when people have a lot of money, and they will just– [Laughs] –Look, I live in LA, and you see it everyday:
- People will literally buy an entire runway look head-to-toe and wear it. There’s no creativity there. Don’t be a fashion victim.
- Wearing things that don’t fit, which I think is a shame, because you don’t do your figure any favors. Forget what the number on the tag says, as in the size, and just wear what fits. Don’t be obsessed with fitting into a certain size because the sizing varies between shops anyway.
- Over-donning yourself with accessories. My mom always said, “You’re not a Christmas tree,” so less is more sometimes. [Laughs.]
LR: Oh, brilliant! Thank you!
CN: On college campuses, especially in Southern California, it’s common to see students living in pajamas, Ugg boots, and sweatpants. What are your thoughts on the unofficial college uniform?
LR: I’ve got to be honest–college is kind of the time where anything goes. I’m not going to lie–I played lacrosse in college, I was in my sports kit probably 70 percent of the time.
No one’s got any money, so I’m not saying, “Hey! You should all be in cute heels, and hats, and amazing accessories all day long”, but at the same time, when it is time to go out with your friends, it is nice to get out of the sweats.
I think there are certain stores–I still shop at Forever 21 or ASOS, and [in my book], there’s a whole chapter of tips on how to shop online or how to shop a sale.
So I think it’s not just “anything goes”, there’s also no excuse, you can find cute things between 5 and 10 dollars that will revamp your look. Get the basics right, get the perfect pair of skinny jeans, a great biker jacket, a really good couple of T-shirts, and then switch up those looks and accessories. I think that’s what college is all about, rotating the accessories.
CN: So, have your basics for the basic wardrobe, and switch it up with the accessories.
LR: Exactly, and you know, look a bit harder if you are short on cash. Look for discounts. You can even Google sales online, and you can find the most amazing warehouse sales of great brands that they don’t really advertise. If you’re sneaky, you can find a way around it.
CN: I read that you graduated from Durham University with a First Class Honors degree in English literature. What made you decide to study English literature?
LR: I always wanted to. I’m a total bookworm–I’m a nerd over it–I love poetry, I love novels, I’m a big classics reader, and I always wanted to do that. It wasn’t like doing a journalism course. My dad’s a journalist, and he tells me that you don’t need to do a class in journalism, it’s actually a better idea to get an academic degree, like history or English. So that’s what I did.
I think if you have a journalism degree, that’s awesome too, but I also thought that I would have a lifetime of doing a career, so if I wanted to study something, when am I going to be able to study Charles Dickens novels with an amazing professor again? I wanted to have that experience. Oh, I sound like a nerd, don’t I? [Laughs.]
CN: Oh, you should sound like a nerd! It’s great! [Laughs.]
LR: I can tell you’re a fellow nerd, so it’s okay! [Laughs.]
CN: Yes, absolutely! You became an intern for ELLE during the early part of your career. A lot of our readers at College News are college students, and right now it’s internship hunting season. What advice do you have for these college students who are looking?
LR: Absolutely, and this is a big question for me. On my blog, and I will tell you some more here as well, I wrote two separate pieces very recently under the lifestyle section, so I’d love to point people there because I wrote really long pieces with very practical tips.
- Keep your resume to one page, these editors and what-not, their attention spans are not long, and they see your resume, so they’re not going to get to the second or third page. Don’t put a photo on it, it’s cheesy, just let the words speak for themselves.–gotta be honest! [Laughs.] I would send your resume by email and follow up with a phone call, because a lot of editors or bosses, they’re all different, some still love paper and like to receive it in the mail.
- Follow up with a phone call a day or two later. And persevere, you do have to be quite pushy, and if you don’t hear back, keep trying once or twice more, because often things slip through the cracks.
- When you do get the internship, make the most of it: get in early, stay late, keep smiling even if you’re given the most boring, worst job. There will come a time when you get to do something cool, like at ELLE suddenly a few months later, my editor suddenly turned around and said, “You’re going down to London Fashion Week, and you’re going to interview Linda Evangelista,” and I was like, “Are. You. Kidding. Me?” [Laughs.] So your time will come.
- Make contacts. Even if you’re only there for a few days in this work experience, make sure you get every business card you can, and follow up the next day. It only takes one editor to remember your name, and when the job comes up, you want to be at the top of their mind, you want to be the person they think about hiring. So yeah.
CN: That’s very good advice. Thank you so much, Louise. Is there anything else that we haven’t talked about that you would like people to know?
LR: No, I think that’s great! If you’re able to put “Follow @LouiseRoe on Instagram” or anything like that, that would be amazing because I love continuing a dialog with people and it’s really lovely to talk with you! Good luck with everything!
Find out more about Louise Roe’s book Front Roe: