BE – WELL DRESSED OUTDOORS – It is tricky to find outdoor clothes that do what you want – keep you warm/dry/cool – and are ethical and stylish (I kept a blog for the Independent newspaper on the challenge of dressing ethically for a year). If you’re watching or filming wildlife, you’ll also need apparel and equipment that blends in with countryside colours – no fuschia-pinks or
scarlet-reds, I’m afraid.
As I’ve recently been working as a presenter on a BBC series called The Urban Jungle (due out in August), what to wear outdoors/on camera has been on my mind. Over the years – I filmed several series for the BBC on British Wildlife with Chris Packham – I’ve narrowed this down to:
Patagonia: Specialising in outdoor clothes, this company donates 1% of profits to environmental charities, promotes fair and safe labour conditions and carries out an eco audit of the impact of all its products. Great tees, light weight base layers and fleeces.
Barbour: A classic British company with classic British design. Their waxed jackets, with removeable, fleecy gilets, are both super practical and stylish. Plus Barbour will prolong the life of your jacket by repairing it for you.
Fjallraven: This Swedish company believes in products that are timeless, durable, dependable and are made from organic cotton, recycled polyester and bamboo. I’ve just bought the uber warm Greenland jacket from The Brokedown Palace, run by my sister, Dee O’Connell, and her boyfriend, Ian White (modelled here by my other sister, Sheila O’Connell). Dee and Ian are one of the few stockists of this brand in the UK.
For presenting, I need to at least attempt to look stylish, so I wear J Brand jeans (obviously you wouldn’t wear jeans for anything seriously outdoorsy) – I love the cut and I often buy them second hand on eBay.
I have naturally curly hair, but it has a tendency to do its own thing, so for this series I’ve been attempting to straighten it with Babyliss Big Hair, a kind of hairdryer for idiots that gives you a salon-smooth look – although I still haven’t got the hang of it as you can tell.
Since I’m half Asian, I’ve always struggled to find decent make up and have stuck with Nars and Mac. This time round, inspired by India Knight’s beauty column, I’ve become a complete convert to Smashbox. It’s suitable for all skin colours, it’s designed to look good on camera, it’s waterproof and lasts for hours. Given I put my make up on way before breakfast and then don’t look at it again for the next 9-10 hours, most of which are spent out in the elements, this is, indeed, pretty useful. And believe me, it’s amazing the amount of make up it takes me to achieve the ‘natural’ look on TV!