Winter Dressing with Tilly Macalister-Smith

Merlette creates pieces that are meant to be a permanent part of women’s wardrobes and that means wearing them year-round. We asked ultra-stylish editor and brand consultant Tilly Macalister-Smith to show us how she wears her Merlette favorites through the chilly temperatures of a NYC winter. We love her thoughtful approach to fabrics and silhouettes, along with her balancing act of fashion and motherhood. Read on for her take on style, city life and more.


Photographed by Bogdana

1. How do you approach balancing style with warmth in the winter?

Lots of people swear by many light layers in cold weather, but I don’t really have the patience for that - I prefer one giant cosy sweater or one oversized coat to wrap up on. Then hat, scarf, gloves. A good scarf will stave off most bitter temperatures. I’m not great with hosiery, so I prefer to wear jeans or trousers under dresses. A good every day pair of boots that stand up to all weather conditions is a must.

Wearing the ESSAOUIRA dress

2. How do you update timeless pieces from season to season?

Truly timeless pieces don’t need updating. And something doesn’t have to be understated or refined to be timeless (there’s a right time and place for a vintage Pucci silk slip dress!). But, if you want to give something a bit of a lift, changing your accessories can make an impact. Also, change up how you wear something - if you only ever wear that blazer with its matching trousers, try it with blue denim jeans.

I don’t really wear much make-up, but overpowering cosmetics can really date a look. The perfect 90s dress looks relevant today without the silvery plum lipstick and smokey brown eyeliner!

Wearing the STEYL jacket and SARGENT EMB. pants

3. How has living in NYC and the on-the-go lifestyle changed your approach to your wardrobe?

NYC feels more geographically condensed than London, so I’m more likely to take a small bag or wear something spontaneous here if I’m just nipping out to one meeting and then back to my desk, whereas London is much more spread out so I would plan to be out for a full day. I’d have to lug around a bag with my workout gear, an umbrella (in every season), perhaps a change of clothes for dinner. I’m also just going out less these days, I think we all are, but it doesn’t feel any less busy, so it’s nice to make the effort to dress for meetings even if they are on Zoom. It’s so true that if you feel pulled together your mind feels sharper, and I need all the hacks these days juggling a baby with work.

Wearing the SOLIMAN dress

4. How do you approach layering to keep it stylish but not bulky?

Choose armholes that are cut very narrow. It sounds really specific, but it’s the key to not looking like you’re drowning in fabric. So long as things fit you on the shoulder, you can wear what you like. The Maida dress and Essaouira dress work when they are layered over trousers because even though there is a lot of fabric the shoulders are cut very slim which is flattering. And of course, only natural fibers: a silk shirt with an oversized cashmere jumper under a wool overcoat - nothing feels better or could be cozier. 

Wearing the MAIDA dress

5. How has becoming a mother influenced your style choices?

The concept of having time to put an outfit together has long sailed, so everything in my wardrobe is not a bit of a riff on a uniform - shirt, easy trousers, oversized knit or simple slip dress in summer. My style was heading that way anyway, but the absence of any spare time has galvanized it! I tend towards boyish clothes, and often end up wearing a shirt or sweater that belongs to my husband. I don’t love anything too restricting around my waist as I’m either working at my desk or racing around, so Marina’s dresses are perfect for popping on and feeling like you made an effort without needing to expend any mental energy! Ideal. Oh, and 99% of the time it’s flat shoes for me now.



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