Top City fund manager, campaigner for equal pay and opportunities, aspiring governor of the Bank of England, author – and now social media fashion influencer?
Dame Helena Morrissey has often been feted as an overachiever, but few could have predicted the latest pivot for the former head of Legal & General’s personal investing business and founder of the 30% Club, which campaigns for more women in boardrooms. She has taken to Instagram to advise women on how to dress for success.
Styling herself as a “soft power dresser”, Morrissey, who has nine children and was recently interviewed to become the next Bank governor, has launched an Instagram account offering “daily tips for modern feminine career dressing”.
She started posting in late November and kicked off her recommendations with a full-length picture of herself wearing a Zara shirt dress with a silk scarf print.
As in most of the 20 or so other images, she is posing next to gold floor-length curtains in her family living room.
In her captions, Morrissey discusses how to cope with “sartorial challenges”, advocates comfortable shoes and sings the praises of young British.
She claims her family motto is “reduce, reuse, recycle”, and says the motto is the inspiration behind her second-eldest daughter’s new vintage fashion venture, Florence Clementine Archive, where some of the photographs of the luxury clothes for sale feature a suspiciously familiar model.
In one recent post, Morrissey styled a pleated “truly special skirt” costing thousands from Gucci with a ribbed polo neck from the Japanese clothing company Uniqlo, which sells for about £25.
Under the photo, she extols the virtues of wearing less corporate outfits: “A young colleague started dressing more distinctively. One day, I admired the beautiful skirt she was wearing; she told me I had inspired her to dress for work in the feminine style she preferred. It was so lovely of her to share that – and wonderful to see her grow in confidence – and get promoted!”
The handful of comments below that post from her followers are entirely positive. “I adore this skirt,” writes one. “I love you’re sharing, what an inspiration,” says another.
Whether new or vintage, some of Morrissey’s outfits from labels such as Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen and Jimmy Choo may be beyond the means of most of her 2,700 followers, if they are not on a top City salary.
Nor do they appeal to every female worker.
“I would never wear that, it looks like something my mother thinks I should wear as a CEO,” says one thirtysomething female boss of a financial services firm, of Morrissey’s green Dolce & Gabbana dress, which is embellished with large white daisies. “As a leader in a male-dominated and often bullish environment, what I wear really matters as to how I am perceived.”
Another female leader in the fintech business suggests bright colours and embellished skirts are easier to wear for women already at the top of their profession: “I stick to that more corporate look as otherwise assumptions would be made and I would be dismissed more quickly. Dressing in a more flamboyant and fun way isn’t helpful when you aren’t at the level of seniority Morrissey is.”
Morrissey recently quit Legal & General, saying she wanted to pursue other interests.