Katherine Parkinson on her Ossie Clark dress: ‘I was paranoid I looked like a bumblebee’

The actor discusses her love of vintage clothes – and reveals that Jennifer Lopez was once her style icon

This is an Ossie Clark dress, which I bought while I was very pregnant, so I hadn’t even tried it on, but I’m a big fan of Clark, and hoped that I would fit back into it at some point. It’s a bit faded at the sleeves because I got it from an antique shop in Harrogate when I was there filming In the Club, but I just love the buttons and the crepe material.

This was the first time I wore this dress, and I was paranoid that I looked like a bumblebee. I had been busy rehearsing for Home, I’m Darling and I didn’t want to worry about buying something new for the opening night. In the play, I wore lots of 50s clothes – so it was nice to wear something from a different decade, the 70s. I also wore heels the whole time – two and a half hours, running up and down stairs – so here I’m wearing Tabitha Simmons velvet ballet flats, for the preservation of my feet.

I thought I would grow out of vintage and graduate to really sleek, monochrome, French-lady dressing, but it just hasn’t happened. I still seem to have a lot of 30s, 40s and 70s stuff. I have realised that your personal style is perhaps set in place quite early on; if you were a punk, for example, there’s a part of you that stays that way. I kind of have the same hairstyle that I had when I was four! But, when I’m working, I do seem to go to the opposite of what my character wears. In my 40s and 50s, I want to become one of those people whose clothes look simple but expensive, rather than complicated and cheap. I always feel less guilty about buying things like this dress because, hopefully, they will retain their value. It’s a bit like having an antique in the house.

At the school gate, I am usually in pyjamas, trying to pretend that they’re outerwear. I remember when J-Lo made leisurewear really glamorous – I think I really embraced that. I used to walk around in those velour tracksuits – a matching top and bottoms with bling. That’s how I dressed throughout the 90s, so perhaps my style has changed after all.

Contributor

As told to Leah Harper

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Mandy Moore: ‘There’s much more scrutiny now. You’re seen from all angles’
The actor on sequins, red-carpet disco fun, denim dresses and fast-forwarding her age in This Is Us

As told to Leah Harper

19, Nov, 2019 @11:57 AM

Article image
Zawe Ashton: ‘It’s not a wedding dress – but it marks my biggest, riskiest commitment’
The actor and author on how the sophisticated, subverted trouser suit she wore to her book launch made her feel like the experimental indie artist she is

As told to Leah Harper

11, Jun, 2019 @4:10 PM

Article image
Dita Von Teese: ‘I got an email saying: how dare you – that suit was for me!’
The burlesque dancer upset a fellow vintage enthusiast when she bought an original Christian Dior New Look outfit from a shop in San Francisco

As told to Leah Harper

23, Jul, 2019 @1:51 PM

Article image
Louis Theroux on his favourite outfit: ‘This was a wool-cotton blend. I thought I looked quite roguish’
The documentary-maker wore this jumper for his first set of publicity stills – which included pictures of him naked with a feather boa. His main aim here? Just to look presentable

As told to Ellie Violet Bramley

25, Aug, 2020 @2:00 PM

Article image
Drag Race's Michelle Visage: 'I was obsessed with having a body like Mae West'
The reality-show judge on how drag, the New York ballroom scene and having her breast implants removed all influenced her style

As told to Leah Harper

21, Apr, 2020 @10:29 AM

Article image
Neelam Gill: ‘Growing up I wished I looked like other girls’
The model on partying until 7am in her favourite Julien Macdonald dress – and how she takes inspiration from the style of Bollywood actresses

As told to Leah Harper

17, Sep, 2019 @11:58 AM

Article image
Katherine Parkinson: 'I'm scared of the brutality of Hollywood'
The Humans and IT Crowd actor is about to star in a play about the world of humourless comedy fans. Good job she has experience in that field …

Emine Saner

17, Oct, 2016 @3:09 PM

Article image
Pearl Lowe: 'I was told to dress less glamorously, because girls wouldn't like me'
The designer discusses performing as a singer in sequin dresses and high heels in the 90s, why skinny jeans don’t suit her, and her search for the perfect vintage dress

As told to Leah Harper

12, May, 2020 @12:50 PM

Article image
Jane Seymour: ‘Not every designer will dress someone my age’
The actor on sharing clothes with Donatella Versace and whether re-wearing outfits is acceptable

As told to Leah Harper

12, Nov, 2019 @1:00 PM

Article image
Courtney Love: ‘I thought: this dress is crazy-looking, but I’ll make it work’
The musician on the controversial dress – from Christian Dior’s ‘homeless’ collection – she chose for the Golden Globes in 2000

As told to Leah Harper

02, Apr, 2019 @10:46 AM