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Sir Paul Smith: The importance of belting earnest

Debonair chats to iconic British designer Sir Paul Smith, whose AW18 collection escapes to a more peaceful and positive place

I’m very lucky in that I wear my own clothes from head-to-toe virtually all of the time, and I don’t need to go shopping to get them. ~ Sir Paul Smith

The most stylish item I own is… my confidence. I always say style isn’t about what you’re wearing, it’s about how you wear it. I don’t make clothes that should just live on a hanger or that you need an instruction manual to put on; I make clothes to be worn, loved and for people to feel confident in.

My most valuable item is… my wife, Pauline. I value her above everything else. I have her to thank for everything. 

The difference between fashion and style is… fashion you can buy; style you can’t.

The one look I wish I could pull off is… I’m very happy to say, I like my style the way it is. I’ve always tried to dress in a way that is suitable for my age, my body shape and whatever situation I might find myself in. Mostly that means a fairly simple suit with a slim silhouette; often I’ll wear it with a vintage denim shirt and some handmade leather shoes.

I’m very lucky in that I wear my own clothes from head-to-toe virtually all of the time, and I don’t need to go shopping to get them. ~ Sir Paul Smith

The one item nobody should wear is… something that doesn’t fit! I was trained by a ceremonial tailor who taught me all the foundations of how to cut a suit and how to make sure it fits in a way that flatters the wearer, whether that means adding strength by accentuating the shoulder or suppressing the waist to give more shape. Dress to suit your body and age.

What are your thoughts on accessories? Depends what they’re for! I’ve always worn a belt; without one I might lose my trousers!

When I shop… it’s almost always for others. I’m very lucky in that I wear my own clothes from head-to-toe virtually all of the time, and I don’t need to go shopping to get them. When I’m shopping for others, I like to try and buy something that they would really love and cherish, rather than buy something for its material value.

Styling and profiling


Suede Classic Archive Birch-Peacoat
AED 410.00

Code of London

Ravenscourt Waistcoat
AED 675.00

Quay Australia

AED 231.00

Babette Wasserman

Origami Dinosaur Cufflinks, Blue - Base Metal Rhodium Plated,
AED 415.00

Do you prefer bricks or clicks? Brick-and-mortar stores, always! I love being in my shops so much, you’ll often find me behind the till at the weekend. But I also understand the importance of online. Our e-commerce shop is now our biggest.

Who would you say is the most stylish man to have ever lived? Daniel Day-Lewis. He’s the only man I know who can pull off biker boots and a leather necklace at the same time.

The one item I can’t live without is… Can I have two? Pen and paper! One would be useless without the other. I use pen and paper every day. The inside pocket of my suit jacket is like a filing cabinet filled with all my notes!

What I like best about my job is… that every day is a new beginning and I love waking up each morning and discovering something new each day.

How do you feel about the industry? It’s moving quicker than it’s ever moved before. And the fishpond has never been more focused. The key thing is to have focus, which isn’t easy when the industry has so much competition, newness and noise!

If I wasn’t in the fashion industry, I would… I had dreams of becoming a professional cyclist, but a dreadful accident as a teenager put an end to them. If I had to choose something other than cycling it would definitely be photography. I love to take pictures (@paulsmith on Instagram).

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