Amanda Wakeley: If you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, you’re wasting your life

Amanda Wakeley: If You’re Not Passionate About What You’re Doing, You’re Wasting Your Life
Amanda Wakeley wearing blue jeans and a sky blue jumper, sitting against a white wall in a relaxed pose
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By Abi Jackson, PA

If there’s one thing Amanda Wakeley would do differently given the chance, it would be to pause and pat herself on the back a little more often.

“Being an entrepreneur and a creative, you’re always on this hamster wheel. Particularly in the fashion industry – you’re one collection to the next, to the next,” says the British designer and podcaster, 61.


“What I’m trying to do a bit more now, and I slightly wish I had – not that I am one for regrets, because I am really not – but just every now and then to take a moment to, not be smug, but just pat myself on the back and say, ‘Good job’.

“I think the psyche needs that and thrives off of it. It’s not the big I am, but just sometimes saying to your brain, good job, but we’re all moving at a million miles an hour and that’s hard to do.

“Plus, I’m such a perfectionist, [when I finish something] it’s like, ‘Oh ok, well next time it will be better’. But that’s not life – what’s that lovely saying? Done is better than perfect.”

Amanda Wakeley standing against a white wall, wearing black wide legged trousers and a white shirt, tied at the waistline
(Amanda Wakeley/Handout/PA)

It’s something that’s taken on greater meaning in recent years. Wakeley launched her eponymous label in the Nineties, soon becoming known for her pared-back glam and elevated-classic designs, worn by the likes of the Princess of Wales (both the late Diana and more recently Kate), Scarlett Johansson, Kate Winslet and Helen Mirren.

But after three decades of success – which included being awarded an OBE in 2010 for services to fashion – the brand was hit hard by the pandemic, going into administration in 2021 and later liquidation. Amidst all of this, one of her two brothers – Charlie – died aged 62 from a brain tumour.

She could easily have taken it all as a sign to hang up her boots and retire. Instead, Wakeley launched a podcast, StyleDNA (now in its fifth season), in which she interviews celebrity guests about their personal style evolution, and the life lessons and events that have taken place around that.



“It has sort of taken on a life of its own, which I am thrilled about, because I was always fascinated by the psychology of why we wear what we wear, how clothes can empower us and cocoon us and feed into our wellbeing,” she says of the concept, which started out as a book idea (something that’s still in the works).


“I was going to call it Discovering Your Style DNA because I think so often, women in particular don’t really work out who they are sartorially for quite a while, if they ever do actually, and it can really prey on them. I’ve heard of women not going to great events or parties because they don’t feel like they’ve got the right thing to wear, which feels really, really sad.”


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A post shared by Amanda Wakeley OBE (@amandawakeley)

For Wakeley – who recalls holding sessions exploring themes such as menopause and nutrition in the upstairs drawing room of her flagship Albemarle Street store – wellbeing has always been a keen interest.

She “grew up in a medical family” (her father was a surgeon and mother a physiotherapist) but found herself “fascinated by the alternative side to health and wellbeing, so it’s very much part of who I am,” she says.

“I’ve always been a very physical, sporty person, and with various breakages from skiing accidents, I’ve had to rehab my body from those, which has actually made me understand my body far better than had those not happened. So I call them ‘happy accidents’ – not that I want any more!”

Losing her brother and turning 60 did jolt her to go for a thorough MOT.

“I’d promised myself that I would go and have a proper check. That was a very important thing for me to do, actually,” reflects Wakeley, who recently became a brand ambassador for Echelon Health, which provides comprehensive preventative assessments.

She’s taken up more weight-bearing exercise (“that’s really important as we get older, our muscles need that”) and enjoys eating healthily (“I love a bit of dark chocolate and I’m no angel, but I love eating seasonally and really good, nurturing, nutritious food”). But at this point in time, self-care has really become about giving herself space to process and stay present.

“Without sounding woo-woo about it, it’s getting out into nature first thing in the morning. I have a dog, I’ve always had dogs, and for me the power of getting out into the fresh air, into these beautiful London parks that we’re privileged to have, without sunglasses…

“If I’m down in the country, I’m always on the lawn with a cup of tea first thing in the morning in my bare feet, even if there’s frost on the ground, because I love the whole grounding nature of it.”

Has she had any big takeaways from navigating the big shifts in recent years?

“One of my big ones was saying to myself: I am going to make the time, and that might only be five minutes a day, to do a little guided meditation. For someone like me with a really busy mind, it has been transformative.

“And I’m not one to sit in the lotus position for an hour, that’s just not me, but I think the power of allowing your brain to switch off for a few minutes and just slow everything down has been unbelievably helpful.”

She now combines this with wearing a CurrentBody LED face mask – the brand sponsored the latest series of her podcast and Wakeley has become “slightly addicted”. While marketed for their skincare benefits, she finds they help her relax, plus the fact she can tick two boxes at once is a win. “I am a bit of a multitasker. Hence mindful meditation with wearing an infrared mask – it’s a twofer. I love a twofer!”


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A post shared by Amanda Wakeley OBE (@amandawakeley)

She’s grateful attitudes are changing around ageing, particularly in terms of pursuing new goals at any stage of life and embracing opportunities to evolve.

“We have to keep moving, stay curious, stay impassioned. Because I think unless you’re passionate about what you’re doing, you’re wasting your life.

“We’re living in a time where we’ll have multiple careers, unlike in my parents’ era, my grandparents’ era – you chose your profession and you did that until you retired. Now a lot of us – she says touching wood – are living healthier, longer lives, and there’s so much out there to do and see and participate in.

“I think we’re really lucky. It’s fun and exciting that we don’t have to be trapped into doing one thing all our lives and [can keep] just evolving.

“I’m not big on looking back too much,” adds Wakeley. “That was what it was, and great, then I think it’s all about what’s next? Learn your lessons as and when, but tomorrow is a new day. Today is a new day.”

Amanda Wakeley, iconic British fashion designer and creative director is host of the acclaimed podcast Amanda Wakeley: Style DNA.

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