Best Wardrobes in Britain: Nana Acheampong


Welcome to the latest, highly exciting instalment of Who What Wear UK’sBest Wardrobes in Britain. It’s where we do exactly what it says on the tin: delve into the most fantastical, awe-inspiring and downright influential wardrobes. We’re honing in on the women who cause the street style photographers to press their shutters as well as the characters you don’t yet know—the ones who fly under the radar with secretly incredible clothing collections. 

When anyone on the Who What Wear UK team needs an endorphin hit of fashion joy, there’s one woman we turn to on Instagram: Nana Acheampong. In her roles as an editor and a fashion and celebrity stylist, Nana has a keen eye for colour, print, texture and fun outfit combinations that always provides inspiration. What’s more is that she uses that skill set to hunt down the very coolest pieces on the high street, and you may well have seen her applying her know-how to BBC’s You Are What You Wear, through which her happy approach to fashion reaches millions of viewers up and down the country. 

Nana explains that her Ghanaian heritage contributes to her application of vibrant colours and approach to getting dressed. Having a fabulous outfit was an intrinsic and regular part of growing up in her household, so you can imagine we were chomping at the bit to dive into her wardrobe. What did we find? A rainbow of hues, a lot of shoes and some absolute corkers from Zara. Keep scrolling to jump inside Nana’s closet and kaleidoscopic style.

Have you always been interested in fashion? I have always very much been interested in fashion from a really young age. Getting dressed up has always been a big thing in my Ghanaian household, whether that be to go to church on a Sunday or for family occasions. It has always been about having a big, fabulous dress or outfit. When I was little, that was my thing—I was always into fashion. So is style a big part of your Ghanian culture? Definitely. It’s shaped the person I am. And I still take a lot of inspiration from it in the way that I work and the way that I view fashion. It’s a big part of my life. Obviously, if you know me, then you’ll know I just love bright colours and anything really vibrant—that’s what I’m drawn to. And that’s what I’ve grown up with and what I see when I go to Ghana [and attend] family events and things like that. So I think I’m constantly inspired when I’m there. When I’m watching catwalk shows or if I’m picking out trends and things like that for my work, I’ll instantly be drawn to anything that’s really bright and fun and vibrant. I’m always a person that would rather be overdressed than underdressed! There’s also an amazing use of prints… . One hundred percent, definitely. I love seeing now how African fashion is having a real moment and being brought to the forefront as well because that’s just really nice to see.  So are there some African fashion brands you really love right now? Christie Brown from Accra—I am a big fan, as she has amazing silhouettes. Then there’s Nigerian brand Vicnate and two U.S.-based Black-owned brands called Hanifa and Ndigo Studio that I’d recommend.

Talking of being overdressed rather than underdressed, let’s discuss your Instagram-documented airport looks! Why is it that you really love dressing up for airports—a moment that people are typically scruffy for? You know what I think? For me, I love going on holiday, and I love to travel. I think people always say, “I want to take all of my best outfits on holiday.” For me, I’m like, why are you waiting until you get on holiday? It needs to start from when I leave the house straight away! I read somewhere that the airport was just like another catwalk, which I loved. I just love walking around the airport in my extra heels. I like to feel polished and like maybe I’m going to get an upgrade into first class. I need to look the part, you know? Is there anything you wouldn’t overdress for? When I’m inside the house, I’m very casual, but obviously, no one sees me! I will just be in joggers and slippers and things like that. I feel like as soon as I step out of the house—unless I’m in my gym kit—I’ll be dressed up. I would never walk around in trainers. That is just not me. As soon as I step out of the house, like my mum instilled in me, it’s about being put together.

You said you’ve always been interested in fashion from a young age, but when did you find your personal style?  Definitely later on in life. I used to feel like I was a stylish kid. I used to wear tracksuit bottoms with poppers down the side, which I look back on now, and I’m like, what was that? And Buffalo boots? I think it was very Spice Girls–inspired fashion for me during my teens. So yeah, I wouldn’t say that I actually found my style until my 20s. To be honest, I’d say it was my early 20s when I really started to take a more active role in what I was wearing, where I wanted to shop and all of those types of things. I’d say at university, I still wasn’t quite there, and it happened after uni. Did working in fashion change your style or how you get dressed? Yeah, 100%. Obviously, you’re just immersed in the whole world, and everyone you see, either on catwalks or street style, you end up being inspired by. When you’re at fashion week, it’s just so inspiring. And you think, I want to go home and put my own looks together. I think that’s probably when I really started wardrobe cleanses and getting rid of stuff. I’ll do edits of things I wouldn’t wear anymore at all and think about what’s in my wardrobe. How am I going to style it? And then that’s something that I still do to this day.

How often do you do these wardrobe cleanses? Every three months, I’d say. One of my friends used to only buy something new when she had sold something on eBay, which I used to think was insane, but I kind of get it now. The process is very refreshing: I will go in my wardrobe and be like, Right, do I actually like love this item? Have I worn it in the last three months? Am I going to see myself wearing it in the next three months? And if the answer’s no, I take it to a charity shop. But there’s so much in my wardrobe that I do just wear again and again and that I really love. I go through my pieces and really consider if there are new or other ways I could style them.  And in terms of being a stylist, how has that changed how you get dressed? Or are there any tips that you’ve really learned from styling other people? I always say you need to get dressed for yourself, and people think I’m mental. Like why are you wearing heels to the airport? Why are you so dressed up? I’m dressing like I want to! So my biggest tip when it comes to styling other people is just do whatever feels right for you. And embrace fashion and enjoy it—it’s not meant to be scary or anything like that. I think being a stylist has just allowed me to do that and to have a lot of fun with what I wear and the outfits that I pick. And to be quite experimental as well if I want to and maybe a bit braver.

Are there any brands or trends that you really love at the moment?  I was just talking on my Instagram earlier about how I recently bought up a new collection from H&M. H&M always does really great things with its Studio collection or its Conscious edit, which I’ve been buying for years and I’d say is my favourite. High-street premium collections are the things that stay in my wardrobe. Whenever I do a cleanse, the H&M Studio pieces will never come out. I was wearing a dress yesterday that people saw on Instagram, and I had so many messages being like, “Oh my gosh, where’s that dress from?” It was 2019 Studio H&M collection. I think in the world of Instagram now, everyone thinks that you’re constantly buying new things, whereas actually, there’s just a lot in my wardrobe that I’ve been wearing for years and years now, which I just can’t see myself getting rid of any time soon. I do like new things too—I love a new handbag at the moment. 

What are your tips for finding those high-street pieces that you think you’ll wear for a long time and are good quality? Go for the higher-end high-street pieces, if that makes sense. So you’d be paying a little bit more for a premium H&M dress—I think my H&M Studio dresses were maybe £120 at the time. And then when it’s about day-to-day looks, just get basics and staples that won’t come out of your wardrobe. And I try not to buy lots of trend stuff now, but I know I definitely did in the past. That’s the stuff that would be in my wardrobe for like three months, and then I’m not going to wear again, and then it ends up going to charity. If there’s any sort of special collection or high-street limited edition, nine times out of 10, I will buy into that.

Do you try to be a bit more considered with how you shop? Do you think about where you buy items from? I used to be an absolute impulse shopper, and I think we’ve all become so much more aware with sustainability being the buzzword. But genuinely, I have so many clothes I could rent my wardrobe. Quite recently, in the last two or three years, I have just been like, Do you actually really need something new? If there’s something you’ve already got in your wardrobe [that’s similar], that will work. And again, nine times out of 10, there will be. This year, I haven’t bought any new occasionwear. For all of the weddings, Ascot, Wimbledon and fashion events I go to, usually in the past, I’d have been like, Oh my gosh, I need a new outfit. And then I would feel stressed out because I couldn’t find anything that I liked or I would probably do an impulse buy. That feeling has completely escaped me, and that doesn’t even enter my head anymore. And I think as well, the whole stigma of “you can’t be seen in the same outfit twice” has totally done a 180. Now, actually, people want to see you in that again, and you can just style it in a different way, adding a different bag or pair of shoes. Who cares?

Tell me about how you wear colour. Any tips for the less-confident people out there? I do wear a lot of colour! My first tip is if you’re scared of colour, it’s really basic, but just start off with a pop of colour as an introduction, and I would also start with just one colour. Right now, I’m in complete, head-to-toe pink—my shoes are purple, but I’ve got a pink skirt and a pink blazer. So you could just do a pop of colour with a mono look. And then once you’re a bit more confident, then you can try colour-blocking and see what kind of variations you like. It can all become a bit overwhelming and a bit intimidating. I think that’s when people get scared if they just go for loads of different colours all at the same time. And it’s like no, no, no—you can just wear one. It’s such a mood lifter as well, so I really feel like everyone should have some kind of colour in their wardrobe.

Do you dress to impact your mood? I think clothes just made me feel good. Nice clothes and fabulous shoes. It just puts me in a good mood. I always compare it to when you’re a teenager, and you go shopping on a Saturday to get a new outfit, and you can’t wait to get home to try it on with that excited feeling—I want that feeling every day when I walk out of the house because I put on a really nice outfit. I’m so excited to get dressed every day.  Do you have any tips for people working in fashion or starting out working with fashion? My number one tip is to try to find a mentor. There are no quick routes to getting into fashion, but having a mentor is kind of like having a cheat code. Because they will obviously just pass on as much knowledge as possible and also be really great for networking, which is kind of what this whole industry is about.

Thanks for having us, Nana! Shop her style below.

A rainbow dress that also features a print? It’s giving Nana!

This miniskirt may be small, but it’s full of sass.

Fabric makes all the difference when it comes to premium-looking high-street pieces.

A fancy handbag elevates all high-street outfits.

Initial necklaces work with every jewellery combination.

Much more exciting than a standard black coat!

With a matching handkerchief top, this is adorable.

Nana has so many pairs of bright Zara heels, and we know why!

This is so OTT it could pass for designer.

An easy way to add a pop of colour to your outfit. Up next: 30 amazing buys from COS, Zara and & Other Stories.

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