Tatiana Hambro, Fashion Writer, Moda Operandi


"I went to Cheltenham Ladies' College, which is an all-girls school in the English countryside, and then I went to Leeds University. It’s quite industrial, and has a massive campus. Funnily enough, I did and didn't fit in. I had very different experiences every year I went back. I was very into my studies—I studied literature. Now, I’m a fashion writer at Moda Operandi. I work on our editorial team and create the written content on the site. Everything from trunk show reviews to editorial stories and features.

To be completely honest, the thing that has most defined my style is my grandmother's wardrobe, which is probably about 80% of my entire closet. I’m one of three sisters, and including my mom, that’s four who were competing for this woman’s clothes. [My mom] of course had first dibs. My grandmother loved fashion and kept things impeccably well. I feel terrible because I wore this dress of hers to work and I knew I needed to dry clean it but instead, I hand washed it because it was easier, quicker, and cheaper. All the colors ran into each other and bled. How could I wear something twice and destroy it, and she could keep it for years and years and years?!

When I dress, I use it as an opportunity to be really creative. I really enjoy wearing print and color—I used to love art and painting and there isn’t really room for that type of creativity in my life anymore. But, I can do it with dressing up. Some people don’t have the time and interest, but fortunately for me it’s part of my job. I get really into character building. There are definitely tricks to wearing vintage—cut out the shoulder pads immediately and get comfortable with long lengths. I think you need confidence to wear vintage and you need to enjoy the clothes—they come with a story. I think people get so uncomfortable with things that aren’t a very traditional silhouette—a lot of the time the dresses are tea length, which looks really pretty with a flat shoe or really cool with a sneaker. There's a playfulness to my style. I’ll wear baggy Levis and slides, but I’ll do a red lip with that, so there’s always an element of being dressed up.

[My grandmother] always wore red lipstick. A lot of my friends don’t really like wearing red lipstick, they say it makes them feel old, but I like it. I like it for day and night. My day and night look have become more similar since moving here, just by virtue of not going home and changing after work. People in London wear so much more makeup [than in NYC]—I used to do a cat eye flick, but I do that much less now. I love the Tom Ford lipsticks in Flame and Wild Ginger. Both are an orangey-red, but I’ll wear Wild Ginger for day and Flame at night. Most of the products that I have were found in the beauty cupboard from Vogue [when I worked there]. I am well aware of the sell-by date. I don’t know how you feel about sell-by dates, but I eat food past its sell-by date all the time. As long as it doesn’t smell bad, it’s not bad.

I use the amazing Soleil Tan De Chanel—it’s a classic and you can use it forever. But I bumped the W3ll People Bio-Bronzer Stick to the top. The one beauty product that I won’t go anywhere without is a loose foundation powder. Right now, I’m using Eve Lom Mineral Powder Foundation and before this I was using Bare Minerals, which I loved. I wash my face and put it on and people will—and I’ve never usually been complimented on my skin—but people will stop me and say, ‘Your skin looks amazing.' It just evens my skin out. I apply it with a brush—I prefer to use brushes, it feels quite painterly.

For everyday, I don’t do eye makeup. I’ll just do some powder, blush and a Tom Ford or Chanel lipstick. I also love a Lipstick Queen statement lip. I love that bare face, bold lip look. I will occasionally use the Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream as a primer but that usually guarantees a disaster and you’ll probably get lipstick on your teeth. It’s more about the way you behave when the lipstick is on. The way you avoid a lipstick ring is when you re-apply, wipe everything off, drink some water and then re-layer. It’s really about taking it off and then putting it back on. I know the contours of my lips now so I can apply lipstick without a mirror. Because I live uptown, most of the time I get ready to go out while I'm still at work. I have a whole getting ready bag with everything in it. Tonight, I’m probably going to do a gold and black smokey eye and then a neutral lip and maybe some highlighter. This is Giorgio Armani Eyes To Kill in Noida which is really old and I haven’t used in a while. I’ll put that over a base of the Clarins Eyeshadow that goes everywhere with me. I used to love eyeliner but I’ve been using it less and less. The Serge Lutens Beauté Mascara is a luxury.

I’m so passionate about the topic of taking makeup off. Oil. Makeup. Remover. The Chanel Bi-Phase Makeup Remover is great and coconut oil works like a charm. I do a three step process—it’s oil, foaming cleanser/cream cleanser and then it’s a dab of coconut oil under the eyes post cream cleanser to get everything off.

I have combination skin and I used to get very irritated around my chin area, so I started going to an amazing facialist in London. Her name is Laura Londt and she makes her own products. She’s been working with the Vogue girls as far as 30 years back. She used to say, ‘You can always tell it’s a Vogue girl because their skin looks so congested from all the stuff they’ve been using.’ What I learned [from her] was to cleanse, cleanse, cleanse. I don’t always double cleanse but most of the time I do. I normally do two pumps of oil and rub it all over and then wash with water. I also love the Sensai Gel for cleansing—it’s a bit exfoliating. There are beads in it and once they pop you know it’s worked. Then comes either a cream based cleanser or the Sisley Foaming Cleanser. I’ll follow that with a serum—Sisley Youth Anti-Aging Treatment is amazing.

I’m 27 and I’m starting to get my first wrinkles. People think I look really young but the wrinkles are changing things! I always took it for granted when my friends would complain about their wrinkles, because no one notices your wrinkles apart from you. Then, I got them and it was all I could think about. I’m pretty sure I got them from doing my makeup. You know the mascara face? I used to not even bother with anti-aging products and now I’m introducing them into my routine. I use retinol at nighttime—I was introduced to that by a facialist at Skinceuticals. I’m using the Chantecaille Retinol Intense Cream now but I was using the Skinceuticals one before which I adored. Skinceuticals is one of my favorite brands. I also use Crème De La Mer, but more so in the winter and for drier spots. Like my grandmother, I have an obsession with keeping everything. So, despite the fact that I have three new Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Creams, I will cut the top off and use it until it’s fully gone. I put it on every morning on my lips and sometimes on my eyebrows to keep them in place. I also put it on burns and bruises. I used to put it on my eyes and do this whole glossy thing but it gets caught in the creases.

My body moisturizer is always coconut oil. I smell like a health conscious millennial [Laughs]. I smother myself in it and I do worry that it’s going to make my sheets yellow when I jump into bed. I’m a bath girl, not a shower girl. I bathe every night. So I will put the coconut oil on after my bath, since you’re supposed to put it on when you’re wet, and I’ll go around my apartment tidying up, brushing my teeth and letting it absorb. If it’s late, I’ll just throw on some cotton pajamas.

I don’t own a razor, I haven’t used one since I was 14. I wax. I’ve been told by every waxer that if I wax for four more years I’ll have no more hair, but I’ve been waxing for over 10 years, every six weeks religiously, and my legs are permanently softly fuzzy. I’ve always had pretty arched, shapely brows but they aren’t very thick. My issue is curly brows—if I go swimming and come up, they're all over the place. It’s all about keeping them tame. I get them threaded once a year when I go back to London at Blink Brow Bar which is great. For some reason I don't really trust New York beauticians. It all happens back in London.

I once dressed up—as everyone does—as Margot from the The Royal Tenenbaums. I always used to have a really scraggly middle part, but I slipped it to the side and made it poker straight and decided I really liked that. So I cut it all off. It was a new beginning. They always say a woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life. [Laughs] It’s funny because I recently found a picture of my mom who had exactly the same style at my age. The problem is that my hair is quite kinky and there is a lot of it. It’s very unruly and I’m not the ideal candidate for a bob, so it’s almost more of a boy cut because it’s raised in the back. It’s a grown-out pixie. And I hardly ever wash it. I have quite oily hair and I used to have to wash it every two or three days, but now the oil is part of the look and I’ll just slick it back. It doesn’t get as dirty or look as bad. I wash it with Dr. Bronner's, which is basically body soap, and then maybe I’ll condition it with something I stole from a hotel room. I do have this Shu Uemura Hair Oil Shampoo that I just pulled out of the cupboard that I will also use, but that’s basically it. I usually just air dry.

I have so much to say about nails. One of my greatest pleasures in life is to paint my nails. All my nail polishes traveled over with me from London and I keep them all in the fridge. I’ll often bring four colors to work and then decide throughout the day how I feel about [my nails]. I don’t think it’s the most elegant thing in the world to have a bright purple manicure, but it makes me so happy and I love the process of doing it. I like them a little longer, just over the fingertip, and curved, sort of mirroring their natural cuticle shape. I use the Dior Abricot Nail Oil too.

Odejo is my current favorite. It kind of smells like cucumber with a hint of rose. I was partially involved in the creation of it. When I first met my dad’s girlfriend, I always thought that she smelled amazing. For years, when people would ask her what she was wearing, she would just say—her name is Jo— 'Eau De Jo.' She would never tell me what fragrance she wore or her age. Years later, she was down to her last little vial of the oil, and we were chatting about it and she ended up creating [the perfume]. I get stopped all the time when I wear Dolce & Gabbana Velvet Desire. It has really heavy tuberose. It’s divine. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that I like fragrances that blend to your skin rather than heavier scents. I don’t love wearing fragrance that is super branded because no one does these days—we are all individuals and we aren’t defined by big brands [Laughs]."

—as told to ITG

Tatiana Hambro photographed by Tom Newton in New York on August 16, 2017.