Claudia’s party frocks, Holly’s hiking boots and how primetime TV got fashionable

Photo: @sineadmckeefry

A night in front of the telly has never looked so good, says Laura Craik

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By Laura Craik on

It’s Friday night, the cat has been fed, the dishes are done and the boyfriend is conveniently still in the kitchen, on his laptop, probably compiling another Spotify playlist that no one but him would ever want to hear. Which is good news for you, because you have the living room to yourself. After a day from hell involving too many emails containing the phrase “re-attaching for your convenience”, you can finally relax, switch your adrenaline glands to neutral and unwind in front of some mind-numbing TV.

Oh, look, I’m A Celebrity’s just started. You like Holly’s blouse. It really suits her. Maybe it would suit you. PZZZ! Wait. What was that twitchy feeling in your stomach? It just fizzed. Why? It’s not you who’s about to eat a kangaroo bollock. You are relaxed. You are zen. You are… frantically grabbing your phone, launching Instagram and scrolling through to @hollywilloughby. Only it won’t load. Why won’t it load? Probably because several million other people are looking at it, too, all desperate to know the provenance of the blouse. Maybe Holly’s blouse has crashed Instagram. Which would be funny, if it wasn’t so stressful. Because you know that if you don’t find out who it’s by and purchase it RIGHT NOW, BEFORE THE FIRST COMMERCIAL BREAK, it will be sold out for all eternity. You have read about The Holly Effect. You know it’s not made up, because you recently tried to buy her M&S leopard-print dress, foolishly deciding to do so on office time, rather than first thing in the morning – a decision that cost you the dress, which sold out in two minutes.

Weren’t they nice, those quaint old days when watching primetime TV was just a simple matter of slagging off the presenters’ orange make-up or trying to guess who the murderer was? Not any more. Increasingly, a night in front of the telly is as much about fashion as it is about entertainment. While you still look to the catwalk for style tips, the rising cost of designer clothes (£2,000 for a coat? If you save, you can just about afford a pocket), combined with the glaring unrelatability of tall, thin, young models has made you cast your net wider. Maybe it’s an age thing, but you suddenly find yourself coveting the clothes that Emma Willis/Zoë Ball/The Goddess Holly wear. They may not be high fashion, but they’re wearable – a dull word, perhaps, but one that feels particularly important in these cash-strapped times, when sustainability is front of mind and the last thing anyone wants to do is spunk good money on one-trick wonders.

Maybe it’s an age thing, but you suddenly find yourself coveting the clothes that Emma Willis/Zoë Ball/The Goddess Holly wear. They may not be high fashion, but they’re wearable

That Holly herself makes the buying process so easy is another advantage. When she presents This Morning, every outfit is faithfully documented on Instagram, and hashtagged #hwstyle for easy searchability. Her M&S collection is tagged #HollysMustHaves, and her I’m A Celeb outfits are #hwjunglestyle. That a record 11.9 million people tuned into her presenting debut gives some clue as to the scale and rapidity with which her first outfit – a black Isabel Marant dress and black Grenson boots – sold out. The jungle hasn’t seen anything like it. By the end of the show’s three-week run, I’ll be amazed if there’s a woman in Britain who hasn’t ordered a pair of hiking boots.

It’s the same story on Strictly – certainly where Claudia Winkleman is concerned. Yes, you could look to Vogue for party-dress inspiration, but how much easier to look at Twinkleman, who does sequins so well? On Sunday, she wore a £100 white fringed River Island shift dress that promptly sold out, just like the £187.50 red Karen Millen dress before it. Not that inspiration need come from TV presenters alone: fictional characters will do just as well. Those primary-coloured dresses worn so alluringly by Charlie in The Little Drummer Girl? They’d look pretty damn fine at the office party. As would Villanelle’s pink Molly Goddard dress, which lingers in the memory long after the last episode has been watched.

I love the increasingly prominent part that fashion has to play in one of the nation’s favourite leisure activities. My only quibble? That what used to be a cheap night in is now in danger of bankrupting us. Celebs, please can you all wear really bogging clothes in January? Thx.


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Photo: @sineadmckeefry
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