June 06, 2023

Studio Style: What Artists Wear to Work...

Studio Style: What Artists Wear to Work...
My studio attire is far from adventurous, but interestingly at odds with the chic and colourful illustrations I am known for. Perhaps best described as Seventies scruff, my working wardrobe consists of high-waisted jeans (recently these and these on repeat), French workmen's trousers, skinny t-shirts and an assortment of knitwear. It rarely varies, but there is a comfort and ease in the uniformity, and in that it seems, I am not alone.

Potter Lucie Rie - rather bravely given her profession - almost exclusively wore white, while Bridget Riley fairly consistently mimicked her paintings in black and white. Legendary New York street photographer Bill Cunningham was seldom seen without his blue French sanitation workers' jacket, while Francesca Woodman (above) floated around her studio in diaphanous vintage dresses. What artists choose to wear to work is endlessly fascinating and inspiring, and there are a few recurring themes: here are some reliable favourites, and a few things on my wardrobe wish-list inspired by them...

I have had this photograph of Lee Miller (taken by Miller) on the wall of my studio for years, and no item of clothing is more associated with artistic life than Picasso's iconic striped Breton by classic French brand Armor Lux (though personally I prefer this checked shirt he wore to entertain Bardot in his studio!). And Helen Frankenthaler's subtle stripes here are perfection...

Frankenthaler in her New York City studio, in 1964, with “Interior Landscape.” Photograph by Alexander Liberman / © 2014 Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc. / ARS, NY / The Getty Research Institute (2000.R.19)

Leonor Fini, 1952

A-line top & shorts, £89 / £75 Caramel

Jeans & Jumper
Everyone from Constantin Brancusi to Bridget Riley can be found in some iteration of this eternal combination. Find high-waisted jeans and denim of dreams from Jesse Kamm & Seventy Mochi, and see Freight and &Daughter for beautiful quality and timeless knits.

Joan Mitchell by Loomis Dean, 1956
The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock
Copyright (c) 1956 Shutterstock

French Workwear
Life can be messy, whether you're throwing paint around a studio or having pasta thrown at you by a toddler. French company Le Laboureur have been making classic workwear for the past 50 years and it only gets better with wear and washing. Find Bill's jacket (as above) at Wood and Meadow where you'll also find these excellent trousersThe French Workwear company is also a treasure trove.
Barbara Hepworth at Trewyn Studio, 1961. Photograph by Rosemary Mathews, Courtesy Bowness, Hepworth Estate

Kara Walker at work, photograph: Ari Marcopoulos

Practical beyond reproach, overalls are the ultimate outfit of creative endeavour and somehow always look cool - particularly if you're the kind of person who can get away with pairing maribou slippers with yours, like artist Polly Morgan (below). Try this one from The French Workwear Company, or for something a little less utilitarian, see Sezane and Anthropologie. And if you want to break with the blue, try Wrangler's candy floss pink!