Art of Style

The Working Wardrobe: Alice Casely-Hayford and Sean Baker

ALICE CASELY-HAYFORD and SEAN BAKER share a reverence for great storytelling and the transformative power of style. Here, the London-based couple reveal the charming tale of how they met and tell KARA KIA why a pair of tailored pants is key to a capsule wardrobe

Fashion
Alice Casely-Hayford wears: denim shirt (worn as a jacket), Toteme; shirt (worn underneath), Rag & Bone; pants, The Row; sneakers, Loewe; necklace, Foundrae; rings, Spinelli Kilcollin. Sean Baker wears: T-shirt, pants, socks and sneakers, all Paul Smith, available at MR PORTER

Of the singular strengths that Alice Casely-Hayford and Sean Baker possess, it’s their curiosity for the stories of fascinating people that complements them as a couple. Welsh-born Baker cut his teeth as digital editor at i-D before moving to Paul Smith, where he is now director of brand and communications. “Being a journalist gave me the perfect excuse to ask lots of questions and indulge that curiosity,” he says. Meanwhile, London native Casely-Hayford held positions at Refinery29 and British Vogue before commencing her current role as content director at NET-A-PORTER. “Throughout my career, I have particularly loved giving a platform to marginalized voices and those with a compelling, inspiring story.”

Both are cinephiles and design enthusiasts, so it’s no surprise that Baker and Casely-Hayford hit it off instantly. “We were set up on a blind date by a mutual friend, and it was pretty apparent less than a cocktail in that he was ‘the one’,” says Casely-Hayford, who describes her husband as “the most generous, curious and optimistic person I have ever met”. Baker, meanwhile, was quickly enamored by his now-wife’s elegance, kindness and confidence. “She is extraordinarily strong-willed. We make a great team and bring out the best in each other.” Baker invited Casely-Hayford to a bar on their first date and, after a few negronis, asked to kiss her – “A cliché she’s never forgiven me for,” he says.

Style is certainly a language the couple share, but their motivation to enter the fashion industry is down to very different inspirations. Casely-Hayford was raised in a sartorially accomplished family, with the influence of her parents’ fashion brand shaping much of her creative eye. “My brother and I were surrounded by creativity, both in our parents’ studio, where we spent a lot of time, and at home. It was quite an unconventional upbringing in comparison to my school friends, whose parents were bankers or lawyers, but I wouldn’t change a second of it. I was enthralled by storytelling, style and the power of pop culture from a young age,” she says.

“I love beautifully crafted, timeless classics with a twist, and cherish quality over quantity. Perhaps surprisingly for the content director of NET-A-PORTER, my wardrobe is pretty pared-back. In fact, my husband’s is much bigger! I wear a lot of denim and tailoring, and gravitate towards everyday pieces that are understated and elegant. For special occasions, I do like something more statement, though, and really love to wear [pieces by] emerging designers such as Maximilian Davis, Nensi Dojaka, Conner Ives and Christopher John Rogers.”

Baker’s childhood memories of fashion include a Mickey Mouse sweater hand-knitted by a neighbor, and the scent of his mother’s perfume while she would get ready for a night out or to host a party at home. “As a teenager growing up in Kent and reading GQ, Paul Smith was the smartest designer available in the local department store. Throughout his 50 years in business, Paul has been unwavering in his commitment to dressing people in brilliant, unpretentious clothes. I wear Paul Smith tailoring every day: it can be a sleek, double-breasted pinstripe suit or a more relaxed, drawstring wool trouser with an unstructured jacket, and I’ll always feel completely comfortable – and, crucially, at ease getting straight off my bicycle and walking into a meeting.”

My wardrobe from weekday to weekend doesn’t vary much, but a more casual trouser often finds its way into the mix in my downtime. Also, I could never tire of Paul Smith’s colorful socks
Sean Baker

Build on your closet staples

“A classic white shirt, denim and some beautifully cut trousers are essentials for me,” says Casely-Hayford. “These are the foundations of my wardrobe. They have been since I was a teen and I hope to wear this outfit until I’m an octogenarian.” Baker agrees that a pair of tailored pants is essential for every capsule closet. “My wardrobe from weekday to weekend doesn’t vary much, but a more casual trouser often finds its way into the mix in my downtime. Also, I could never tire of Paul Smith’s colorful socks.”

Dress, Proenza Schouler; shoes, Saint Laurent; bag, The Row; bracelet, Lauren Rubinski; rings, Spinelli Kilcollin
L-R: earrings, Bottega Veneta; candle, Loewe Home Scents

Pick your power pieces

“I always feel confident, sexy and powerful in a Proenza Schouler dress. Midi dresses are my silhouette of choice – despite the length, they can still feel sexy with a tighter fit or added cutouts. I’m loving brown pieces at the moment, too,” says Casely-Hayford.

My style is a huge part of my sense of self, and taking time to dress up, spritz on my favorite fragrance or put on a dress that makes me feel my most powerful is essential in not forgetting that I was me before I was a mother
Alice Casely-Hayford
Clockwise from left: shoes, Saint Laurent; Fleur de Peau Eau de Parfum, Diptyque; bracelet, State Property; necklace, Yvonne Léon; bag, Loewe

Embrace style as self-care

“I’m 6ft tall and, as a teen, I was so self-conscious of my height, but thankfully, I discovered how much I adore wearing heels in my twenties. These Saint Laurent stilettos are magnificent, and I’ll be wearing them throughout the holiday season. Paired with Zankov’s green knit dress, it’s the perfect combination for the office that can be dressed up to pop out after work,” says Casely-Hayford, who explains that despite prioritizing comfort since becoming a mother, she hasn’t strayed too far from her style identity. “My style is a huge part of my sense of self, and taking time to dress up, spritz on my favorite fragrance or put on a dress that makes me feel my most powerful is essential in not forgetting that I was me before I was a mother. Last party season, our son was just a few months old, and the year before that I was pregnant; this year, I want to embrace slinky silhouettes and really dress up. I’ve snapped up a Nensi Dojaka dress and I can’t wait to wear it.”

L-R: polo shirt, pants, socks and sneakers, all Paul Smith; watch, Breitling; geometric-print cushion (just seen), La DoubleJ (available at NET-A-PORTER); Bibliothèque Eau de Parfum, Byredo; cufflinks, Paul Smith; sneakers, Paul Smith, all available at MR PORTER

Enliven a look with a statement bag

“My mother, who has the most exquisite style, has an incredible bag collection. I share her love of bags and think the perfect one can lift any look as well as your mood,” says Casely-Hayford. “Sean would probably say I have too many JW Anderson bags, but I think there’s room for one more!” Baker describes Loewe’s ‘Goya’ bag as the ideal gift for his wife. “Alice grew up surrounded by her mum’s unparalleled collection of handbags and luggage,” he says. “She’s inherited an excellent eye for a decent piece of leather, so I think it would be very much at home in Alice’s wardrobe.” And what would Casely-Hayford choose for her husband? “I got Sean a Bode shirt for his birthday last year and I’ve actually been wearing it as much as he has. I have my eye on one of the brand’s beautiful embroidered styles from MR PORTER for him for Christmas. And a little bit for me, too.”

Alice grew up surrounded by her mum’s unparalleled collection of handbags and luggage… She’s inherited an excellent eye for a decent piece of leather…
Sean Baker
Casely-Hayford wears: dress, Zankov; shoes, Saint Laurent; bracelet, Lauren Rubinski; rings, Spinelli Kilcollin. Baker wears: suit jacket, pants and socks, all Paul Smith; T-shirt, Sunspel; sneakers, The Row, available at MR PORTER

Find your fit and invest in a suit

“A shirt, trousers and a pair of sneakers is a version of exactly what I wear every day. All super-low maintenance but adequately smart to get me from a bike ride to the boardroom,” says Baker, who also recommends investing in a tailored suit and an extra pair of pants. “A suit shouldn’t be saved for weddings, graduations and court appearances – you’ll be amazed how far it can take you. When I first started working for Paul Smith, he completely transformed my perception of tailoring. I’ve learned that a suit can be the perfect wardrobe staple if you choose the right fit and style for your body and lifestyle.”