Review: Wardrobe Wisdom by Alicia Healey

Published: 28 June 2019

Last update: 28 June 2019

Blog post
This blog post is written by Claire Beale, PR Officer Claire Beale PR Officer
Wardrobe Wisdom book on shelves in the shop

The summer season is well and truly underway. From Wimbledon to the Royal Caledonian Ball, the summer calendar of quintessentially British sporting and cultural events brings with it the familiar, what-to-wear anxiety.

Enter the Royal Lady’s Maid. Having trained at Buckingham Palace, Alicia Healey can help you make the most of your wardrobe and dress for any occasion in her National Trust book. To put her pearls of wisdom into practice, we followed Claire Beale, PR Officer, as she got ready for a day at the races.

Royal Ascot

For first-timers, this was always going to be an intimidating spectacle. In a world where we register our success by Instagram likes, I wanted to make sure my outfit was on point. 

Where better to start than with the National Trust’s ‘Wardrobe Wisdom’ book? Compiled by a Royal Lady’s Maid, no one was better placed to help me do battle with my overcrowded wardrobe as I searched for the perfect outfit. My trusty book gave me the following nugget: ‘on Ladies’ Day, keep the dress simple and go for detail in your headwear. Here goes!

A snippet from 'Wardrobe Wisdom' by Alicia Healey, with advice on outfit combinations to some popular summer events
Pages from Wardrobe Wisdom by Alicia Healey
A snippet from 'Wardrobe Wisdom' by Alicia Healey, with advice on outfit combinations to some popular summer events

As a guest of the Queen Anne Enclosure, I knew the rules would be more relaxed than the Royal Enclosure. Even so, I still made about seven outfit changes an hour before I was due to leave.

I swung between boho vintage from the 1970s, synthetic vintage from the 1980s and the latest ‘it’ dress from a high street retailer. The winner? A dress I’d picked up in a sale for £10, which goes to show that money doesn’t buy style, but a good idea for what shape and colours suit you, does. This comes back to another point in the book, where Healey wisely states: ‘there is a time and a place for body-con satin and it isn’t amongst horses. Too true.

Which dress?
Dresses hanging up in a wardrobe
Which dress?

Ascot is ‘all about the hats’. I’m not entirely sure my hat did stand out (particularly as it blended into the flowery photo wall) but it was the second time I got to wear it, so cost-per-wear has improved, if nothing else. Note to self: next year, invest in a hat that is specially selected to match the dress.

My other top hat tips are: ensure that it can stay on in the wind, and – most importantly – co-ordinate with the hats your friends are wearing. My friends and I couldn’t stand next to each other in pictures, as our hats kept knocking together! In a crowded venue like Ascot, this was far from photograph friendly. A big thank you to the Lady’s Maid for holding my hand and soothing my brow in the 'I’ve-got-nothing-to-wear' panic. Now, what to wear for that wedding next weekend...

Claire at Royal Ascot
Claire at Royal Ascot
Claire at Royal Ascot
Wardrobe Wisdom book on shelves in the shop

Wardrobe Wisdom 

Clothes connoisseur, Alicia Healey, trained at Buckingham Palace before travelling the world as a modern-day lady's maid. For every occasion, she's got your back: whether it's a job interview, wedding or day at the races. Peppered with behind-the-scenes anecdotes and insights into the lives of lady's maids of the past.