A friend of The Cambridge Satchel Company since the early years, we asked Briony Whitehouse from A Girl A Style to tell us all about her plans for the festive season and why Cambridge is at it’s most beautiful at this time of year. Read on for Briony’s favourite Christmas traditions, the bags she loves most from our most recent collection and how she plans to dress them up over the next few weeks.
How do you adapt your signature personal style for the winter months?
My style is part feminine and part preppy, though by the time autumn rolls around the floaty white dresses get packed away in favour of classic Oxford shirts, collegiate blazers and great coats. For December, I like to add a little more glamour and embellishment; if you can’t get away with a little sparkly and sartorial drama at Christmas, when can you?
What’s your favourite Christmas memory?
My mother always used to go to so much effort to create the magic of Christmas when I was younger, and one year I came downstairs to find a fairy costume hanging from a rocking horse. I used to dream of becoming Clara in the Nutcracker and escaping to faraway magical kingdoms, and she had spent weeks turning thousands of layers of tulle and crystals into the most perfect silk tutu for me. I wore that dress until it literally fell apart (but I still have it in storage).
How will you be celebrating Christmas this year?
After carols at Kings College in Cambridge on Christmas Eve, my fiancé and I will head to West London to spend a few days off with the English half of my family. My Uncle is the most amazing chef and always creates an elaborate menu for Christmas eve through to Boxing Day. I usually bake homemade mince pies, gingerbread and eggnog, and there are always plenty of board games, old movies (my aunt and I are old Hollywood obsessives), and walks along the Thames. Perfect!
Do you have any routines/rituals to get yourself in the festive mood?
I treasure my Christmas traditions – old and new. Each year I always try to go to see The Nutcracker (my favourite tradition), afternoon tea somewhere glamorous with a friend, carols at Kings College, a festive baking session or two, and a Christmas movie and hot chocolate party for our neighbours at our house (everyone comes over in their pyjamas).
Are you more of a winter or summer person?
Although I’m definitely more of a summer girl (I love long balmy evenings, bike rides and lazing by the River Cam), there’s something so wonderful about winter hibernation; Friday evening theatre dates, bundling up in cosy layers, Sundays spent curled up with a stack of books, and dinner parties at home.
What is your favourite thing to do in your time off Cambridge in the winter?
I love visiting the Fitzwilliam Museum, taking in a movie at the Arts Picturehouse or a show at the ADC, or just loitering for hours in my favourite cafes (Fitzbillies, Afternoon Tease, Hot Numbers).
What’s your favourite Christmas film and why?
It’s a tie between It’s a Wonderful Life (for always restoring my faith in humanity), The Holiday, and Love Actually (both for the most excellent casting and romantic escapism).
What’s the soundtrack to your festive season?
I’m a jazz obsessive, so old festive jazz standards by Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Harry Connick Jnr, Michael Buble or Diana Krall are on constant rotation (literally; I’m driving my fiancé crazy with Christmas songs) in December. The score from the Nutcracker also makes even the most mundane tasks feel a little magical.
Talk us through the looks you styled with our bags for the shoot”
- I believe that if you invest in a great coat and bag for winter, it doesn’t really matter what else you’re wearing; you’ll still look pulled-together. I’ve been practically living in a pink coat (I have too many to mention) thrown over a LBD or cashmere sweater a teamed with over-the-knee boots I can actually walk in.
- This is my perfect off-duty winter outfit; a furry coat, sparkly shoes (that feel so right in December), and red lipstick always. I have always loved the scalloped Cloud bag, but the starry print is just perfect.
- My calendar is always full of holiday parties in December, so I take this as the perfect excuse to dress up (you don’t have to tell me twice). To take the drama out of getting ready when I’m rushing from work to a party, I always rely on a great party dress, knockout shoes, and a small but chic bag that can fit all the essentials. Add jewels and lipstick and you’re ready for anything.
What does next year have in store for you?
I’m getting married in the summer, so I’m mostly looking forward to throwing a big Cambridge soiree for all our friends and family from around the world.