Author, Journalist and Columnist
We’re thrilled to spotlight award winning journalist Polly Vernon.
With an impressive career writing for everything from Vogue to The Telegraph, Observer and Evening Standard, Polly now writes primarily for The Times and Grazia, interviewing high profile names from Donald Trump to One Direction and most recently Sharon Stone.
Polly is 5 ft 5 and wears size XS in the Reversible Cropped Quilt in Fuchsia and Dark Olive in her North London neighbourhood.
I grew up in Devon, totally not in the fashion or media world, but I always loved writing. I wrote constantly as a little kid, poems and stories, but it never occurred to me I could make a job out of it. I also adored clothes. I was obsessed by the idea of glamour, despite really not growing up anywhere glamorous! I was an oldest sister, but I used to fantasise about having an older sister of my own who’d take me shopping and teach me makeup. Ultimately, I became that for myself, I read a lot of magazines and experimented a lot in the changing rooms of the few clothing shops in my hometown (Exeter), and learned a few tricks.
I’m not sure I do really! I like to think of myself as ‘fashion adjacent’, I get to dip my toe in, but also, as a journalist, to be curious and really engaged with things way outside of fashion. This means I never tire of clothes, never think of them as homework, but also I get a sense of how fashion and the big wide world constantly interact.
Having said which, it was fashion which got me into journalism. My first job was as a very junior PR assistant for Miss Selfridge. I offered to write the company’s press releases, my first professional writing job, and my boss at the time was so incredibly lovely about my work, I began to think all that childhood poetry writing could be more than just a way to keep me entertained. I slowly started pitching feature ideas to the magazines and newspapers I loved, and after a year or so, got a job as a junior writer on a young woman’s magazine called Minx. This was around 1998. From my first week there, I knew I’d found my industry. It was like coming home.
I’ve worked on staff and as a freelancer on many titles across the industry. I spent 8 years at the Observer, a year at Vogue, another year on the Evening Standard. For the last decade, I’ve been freelance, primarily splitting my time between Grazia and The Times.
I guess all of it. I’m still amazed I’m allowed to do this for a living, it’s such a joy. I work hard to make sure I constantly get better, constantly risk myself creatively, and that largely pays off. I adore interviewing most of all, getting to swim around in other people’s heads and be extremely nosy. And I’ve done some extraordinary people: Sharon Stone most recently, who was wonderful. I’ve won some awards, which (I won’t lie) feels good... but it really isn’t the best bit. The best bit is being able to express yourself FOR A LIVING!
I think the hardest thing to find and maintain - especially now, in the age of social media - is a voice, and integrity. Because I started writing before the internet, I was only ever playing around to amuse myself and the limited friends who wanted to read anything I’d written. This meant I wasn’t performing for clicks or trying to engage with the most amount of people I possibly could, which was in retrospect very creatively freeing. I could find the way I wanted to write, the tone and energy of it - a ‘voice’ - in my own time. I also learned to develop my own opinions without worrying about maybe being cancelled or feeling as if I had to express the thing that was proving most popular on Twitter that day, because everyone else was... both these things have served me really well as a writer. I always sound like me, never anyone else, and I can only express opinions I truly believe to have merit. So, my advice would be, if you want to learn how to write: do at least some of it privately. Experiment. Find out what works and what pleases YOU.
The other massive influence on me, has always been pop music. I adore the way good pop songs are constructed. They take big ideas, stories and emotions, and make them deceptively simple... but they move you. That’s exactly what good writing should do. It should be enjoyably easy to consume, but leave you moved, affected, thinking about things in a new way. I highly recommend the work of Wham!, Taylor Swift, Carly Simon and Prince, for master classes in all this.
I adore the volume and structure on it. There’s so much drama to it. So, I’m inclined to keep the clothes under it sleek, so they don’t fight for attention. I really love it with sportswear, the bralet and biker shorts I’ve worn it with here but can definitely imagine myself slinging it over a satin slip dress too. It’s ridiculously versatile. I love how the practicality of it is set off by the insane colour. It’s such a gorgeous juxtaposition.