Pandora Sykes is like the Kate Moss of fashion styling. She’s got it all, the cool ‘I just rolled out of bed like this’ effortless look created by her blonde bob (sometimes sharp, sometimes messy), layers of so-hot-it-hurts fashion finds and impossible to find vintage pieces all topped off with an authentic happiness that beams out of her Instagram account. There’s much more to Pandora, or @PinSykes as she is known on her social media, than meets the eye. Her blog (which for a PR, I am ashamed to say I only discovered earlier this year) demonstrates her aptitude for storytelling and a flair for words through her engaging posts. She also has a knack for being relatable with her fashion content often taking high fashion shapes and making them into wearable pieces or just delivering real life advice, for example ‘What do you wear when your dungarees have split? Why the same pair of jeans you’ve been wearing the 4 days perviously of course.’ Honesly, itegrity and a pure love of fashion has led her to be Sunday Times Style magazine’s Wardrobe Mistress, a covetable position which takes up a double page spread every week. In their famous barometer, Pandora would surely be GOING UP in the fashion world, so suffice to say I was on the edge of my fashion seat when she agreed to answer my questions for my Getting Naked With interview… I wanted to find out all her career secrets. So are you ready to crack open Pandora’s box? Ok enough puns already, let’s go!
NakedPRGirl: Let’s go way back…where are you from and what were you like growing up? Were you a true fashionista from the get-go?
Pandora Sykes: I grew up in Essex, though I went to boarding school aged 11 in Berkshire, where it was all about low-slung Gap tracksuit bottoms, Gap logo pants and very cropped Abercrombie t-shirts. Not to mention strings of fake pearls and over-straightened hair. I didn’t think I was, I wanted to be a social columnist, but I’ve always loved shopping and used to make scrapbooks from my Vogues – I have been collecting them since I was 14 – of my favourite models and pictures.
NakedPRGirl: What did you study to prepare you for a career in fashion journalism?
I studied English Literature and Language at Leeds University. I didn’t want to study journalism specifically.
Pandora Sykes: I didn’t really have one, as such. I interned at InStyle and briefly, GQ and it was during that time that I started freelancing for those titles plus Spectator Life, Company and others. I slowly built up a rapport with commissioning editors and then I got my first paid job as the editor of a fashion-sharing website called Today I’m Wearing, run by the Daily Mail.
NakedPRGirl: Have you interviewed anyone who really inspired you or influenced you?
Pandora Sykes: Amber Valletta (cover interview for Style, a few months ago) was very nice and obviously a babe!
NakedPRGirl: You’re Wardrobe Mistress for Sunday Times Style, how did you land one of the most covetable gigs in fashion?
Pandora Sykes: I don’t know, I’m very lucky! They called me and asked if I would come interview. Once I had got over the shock, I knew it was what I had been working towards.
NakedPRGirl: You say wordplay is my foreplay – how much fun can you have with one sentence? What’s your favourite word?
Pandora Sykes: Ha ha, a lot! I love so many words: sartorial, avuncular, capricious, sassy.
NakedPRGirl: You wrote a piece recently about the dangers of tweeting (and being misinterpreted). Do you think we need a thick skin in the blogging/journalist/fashion arena?
Pandora Sykes: You certainly do. It has to be a balance, I suppose.
NakedPRGirl: Your ‘Confessions of a Phone Purger‘ blog must have resonated with many people, is multi tasking and being super organised your key to success?
Pandora Sykes: Absolutely! Even then it sometimes doesn’t work. I lost my diary two weeks ago and the fall-out has been awful…
NakedPRGirl: Your style section on your blog sees you trying out the latest trends (flared cropped jeans for example) and you add your very funny, honest style notes alongside them – did you set out to demystify fashion with a slice of cool?
Pandora Sykes: I definitely like to de-mystify. I hate pretension, you can still be witty and educational about fashion without having a stick up your arse.
NakedPRGirl: For You magazine you wrote about being a Style Schizophrenic. Do you have a default fashion personality?
Pandora Sykes: I love the seventies, I default to that a lot. And nineties: an A-Line mini skirt and loafers for instance.
NakedPRGirl: What’s your wardrobe style? Do you have a huge wardrobe of vintage pieces and old favourites? Or do you sift through clothes and edit all the time?
Pandora Sykes: I edit all the time as my wardrobe is packed. I sell and give away a lot of my clothes. I love to buy vintage for specific things: floral dresses, suede coats, A-Line mini skirts. Never trousers or shoes.
NakedPRGirl: What are your favourite fashion brands to wear? Are there any brands you would love to work with?
Pandora Sykes: High fashion wise I love Celine, Loewe, Louis Vuitton, Gucci Isabel Marant and Chloe. I shop a lot at Reformation and MatchesFashion.com and brand wise at the moment I love Saint Laurent, Saks Potts, Cecilie Copenhagen, Bliss and Mischief, ASOS and Topshop, Bella Freud… lots, really. Tend to be smaller labels.
NakedPRGirl: Fashion Week is a peak time in the calendar – which shows do you look forward to and what tips do you have for others who are yet to visit for the first time?
Pandora Sykes: I look forward to Christopher Kane, JW Anderson and Roksanda Ilincic the most. First time visitors… treat it like work, because for me it’s all about what you can learn.
Pandora Sykes: No, I don’t. I have more followers on Instagram and I love the visual curation of it, but I also love Twitter because I’ve always been into pithy bon mots – I used to update my Facebook status all the time – and now I have an outlet for them.
NakedPRGirl: When did you decide to start your blog? When you started did you consider yourself as a personality with a need for a brand? If so, how did you go about creating @pinsykes?
Pandora Sykes: I’ve had a blog for ages – around five years – just as a way to showcase my writing for any potential employers when I was looking for internships. I added fashion to it two years ago, after I left Today I’m Wearing, because post the advent of Instagram and after my first few fashion weeks, people kept on asking if I had a blog. And I did; it just didn’t have fashion.
NakedPRGirl: Has the dominance of online and social media impacted your work over the years?
Pandora Sykes: I haven’t really worked without it, to be honest, so I am not sure. But Instagram definitely helped boost my brand more.
NakedPRGirl: Lauren Milligan told me that Vogue and her Deetz line influence each other. Do you think being Wardrobe Mistress influences what you write on your blog and vice versa?
Pandora Sykes: No, I think of myself and Wardrobe Mistress as very separate entities. WM is a Style alias; the average age of Style’s reader is 44 whereas the average age of my blog reader I would guesstimate as 25. Plus, I am 28 and I have an adventurous approach to fashion so the two really differ a lot. Sometimes I buy something that I have worn on WM page, but in general they don’t overlap to me, at least.
NakedPRGirl: Your travel blog is a very beautiful and welcome relief from fashion, what are your insider travel tips for being a lifestyle blogger?
Pandora Sykes: I only do travel because I love taking pictures and it’s nice to have them on the outlet. But I don’t know about lifestyle; I think it’s hard, you’re literally just selling your tips on life which can be done well, but isn’t for me.
NakedPRGirl: What advice would you give to others starting out in the industry?
Pandora Sykes: Be the best version of yourself – don’t try and copy someone else, find your own USP and hone. Take every opportunity, work hard.
NakedPRGirl: What’s next? @PinSykes the book?
Pandora Sykes: Who. Only. Knows.