Best Wardrobes in Britain: Anna Shaffer


Welcome to the latest, highly exciting instalment of Who What Wear UK's Best 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. 

It was London Fashion Week of September 2021 when my interest in actress Anna Shaffer piqued. After 15 years in the industry, I recognise most front-row faces at the shows these days, but hers was new to me—a vision in a metallic-pink midi skirt and coral-red jumper (all Rejina Pyo). I asked myself and many people around me, Who is this goddess?

It took a little bit of digging to discover that she was, in fact, not a "fashion person" but a very stylish actress on the rise—a cinephile or more avid TV watcher would've probably known that already. The London-born talent started out a child in multiple Harry Potter franchises, graduated into Hollyoaks and has since become a part of the cult favourite The Witcher. Acting chops aside, she has become a popular fixture in the UK fashion circuit, attending more shows, parties and events since I first laid eyes on her. Courted by the likes of Self-Portrait, Ganni, Roksanda and many more, Shaffer has that London-girl style mix of ultra pretty with a little bit of grunge for good measure. It's a formula we can't get enough of, and she was kind enough to let us explore her closet IRL. Keep scrolling to learn more about Shaffer's cracking style, and see our exclusive shoot.


(Image credit: PHILL TAYLOR; STYLING: Jacquemus dress; Zara shoes; Georgia Campbell earrings and necklace)

What kind of fashion items are you drawn to? How would you describe your personal style? 

I would say that I love colour and patterns. And I always think more is more. But I also enjoy a clean silhouette. Sometimes when I pare it back, I'm surprised by how much I enjoy it too. I love Tracee Ellis Ross—she's my style queen—and I wouldn't necessarily wear everything she wears, but I love how she's not afraid to play, and her use of colour-blocking I think is just gorgeous. So I always try to put as much fun into an outfit as possible.

Have you always been interested in fashion?

Yes. I've always, always been interested in fashion. I felt like when I was younger, I loved it and I was always wearing something mental to school. I always got sent home from school for being inappropriately dressed. I'd be wearing quite low-cut things or fancy shoes that I couldn't walk in. I went through this weird flip-flop stage—like the posh ones that you'd get from H&M that would have a bow on them or something—I'd wear those and people would be like, "What the hell are you wearing?" But I thought I looked great. When I first started getting pocket money, I'd always save up to buy something, so I really appreciate having special things that you've worked hard to have.


(Image credit: PHILL TAYLOR; STYLING: Ganni dress; Maison Margiela sandals; Otiumberg earrings)

Were your parents interested in fashion?

My mum has definitely always taken pride in how she dresses. I think once she had me and my brother, it became more about being functional and dressing for messy kids. But I think it's something that I love seeing in her now that she doesn't have toddlers to look after after getting more expressive with her style, and she loves colourful things as well. I think I got that from her, and she loves big jewellery. I think because we've both got big curly hair, we always need a big earring or a big accessory so that it stands out. I've noticed that when I was younger, I think I was worried that because I've got big hair, that if I wore big patterns, I'd just look too much. So it's something I've enjoyed stepping into more as I've got older. It doesn't matter. More is definitely more.

Do you think you've got more confidence with that?

I think that's the beauty of getting older, isn't it? You just don't care anymore. I think when you've made so many mistakes—like the flip-flops! I remember the American Apparel phase, where everything I wore was American Apparel, trying to give myself a side parting and wearing loads of eyeliner. I just would never dress like that now, but I think you have to go through those stages to work out what it is you love and learn to be more comfortable in how you look. I love being able to try things out. Maybe it's from being an actress too; I get to wear clothes that I would never normally wear and really work out what suits me. But I think it's still an ongoing journey. Yeah, I'm sure if I looked at a picture of what I was wearing last week, I'd hate it!


(Image credit: PHILL TAYLOR; STYLING: Rixo dress; Nodaleto sandals;)

How do you find wearing costumes. Is that important to you when you're acting?

I really enjoy that side—I definitely think the costume is one of the most important things for me when I'm acting because it just transforms you to that place straightaway. If I'm not feeling it or I'm finding it hard to access that world, the second you put in a corset or wig, you know that you're there. So it's so, so, so important. And I think as well, you get to dress up every day, but then if you've got a premiere or something, then you get to dress up and go really glam, which is really exciting and a way that you wouldn't usually dress. It can be frustrating, though. You know, if you were just going to a friend's party, maybe you wear something terrible and no one really sees it, but then if you're going to a premiere and wear something really bad and someone takes a photo, it's there forever! So I'm trying to be a bit more selective about what I wear.

Can it feel like a lot of pressure to dress for promotional tours?

I think especially for the big premiere nights and things like that, because in terms of the project you're working on, it feels like it's all culminating in that one night, and then you also feel like you want to do it justice with the thing that you're wearing. But I try not to feel that pressure too much. Because it's something that I enjoy, it makes it easier that it's something that I look forward to and I think, I can't wait to find the perfect outfit, and then the fun takes over any anxiety.


(Image credit: PHILL TAYLOR; STYLING: Queens of Archive dress; Nodaleto shoes; Completedworks earrings)

Have there been any outfits you've worn to premieres that you have really loved?

You know, I love the outfit that I wore to The Witcher Season One premiere. I looked a bit like Medusa or something because it was black, and I usually go for a colour. But it was velvet and had one shoulder by the Hungarian designer Maria Lucia Hohan that I found in the sale on I just loved it so much. It made me feel amazing. And it was probably not right for the event, and looking back, I don’t know if I would necessarily wear that again, but I remember on the night just feeling so special and loving everything about it. The texture was velvet, and I had my red lips on, which always made me feel confident, and I had my hair out. And I just felt so great. So that stands out, I guess.

Do you work with a stylist or prefer to do it yourself?

It can be really hard because you definitely need to find someone that has that same vision as you. And I've really enjoyed it before, but I think it can be hard as well if you work with someone that doesn't quite get it. I think you really have to work hard to find that relationship with someone. But I definitely would do it again and have worked with some amazing, amazing people. But I also love the joy of searching it for myself and developing my own relationships with different brands.


(Image credit: PHILL TAYLOR; STYLING: Molly Goddard dress; Gia Couture x Alex Eagle shoes; Ashley Williams earrings)

You often go to fashion week. Do you love it?

I've only really gone the last couple of years. It's just so nice to be invited. But it's great getting to play dress-up and wear these amazing gowns. And I love going to the shows as well. I remember going to the first one and being blown away by the fact that it was literally only seven minutes, and then everyone just goes, and I was so confused. But it's great, and getting to see designers that I've loved for ages… like going to like the Regina Pyo show, for example. I've got so many of her items myself, so getting to go to those shows feels really special.

What items are the most special to you in your wardrobe?

I mean, my wedding dresses by Vivienne Westwood. It’s just gorgeous, and I'm really tempted to maybe dye it black because it's a shape that I really love and I want to wear it again. But I don't think you can get away with wearing your wedding dress in white again! And then I guess items that people have given me feel really special. I was really dead devastated on New Year's Day because I lost this gorgeous Shrimps coat that was the first present my husband ever bought me. I was so sad. And it was my own fault because I was a little bit drunk, and when we came home out of the taxi, I laid it across our front fence when I was getting my keys to get into the door. I just completely forgot about it, and then there was a football match on the next day near here, and it was gone by the time I remembered. I was actually really devastated. I said to my mum, "Is this such a bad omen entering the New Year?" My mum was like, "No, not at all. It's an excuse to get a new refreshed one for the New Year."


(Image credit: PHILL TAYLOR; STYLING: Ganni dress; Maison Margiela sandals; Otiumberg earrings)

How do you like to shop? What things do you look for, and how do you approach it?

It's a mix between impulse buying—if I see something and have that dopamine hit, and it's instant, and I fall in love with it, and I feel like I need to have it—that it's almost a thrill that I love. Or I can be more considered about it, and I'll put something in my basket and really think about it and think do I still want it a week later or do I still want it a month later, especially if it's more of an expensive piece. Then getting those items and mixing it in with maybe some of the less expensive, more impulsive things that might be trend-dictated or because I've seen someone else wearing it. I love shopping IRL rather than online shopping. I hate shopping online. It never fits properly—you want to feel it, and you want to kind of know exactly how it feels and try it on in a few different sizes. So I like to try to go into the shops if I can.

Who are your favourite designers? 

I love Rejina Pyo and Ganni. I always want something gingham from Ganni. I love Gucci. I don't have any, but I love seeing all the tailored Gucci stuff, which is really, really cool. Shrimps I love. I really love something a bit more structured. Vivienne Westwood I always love, which I think is because of my body shape. I've got like bigger boobs and stuff like that. I just couldn't wear a slip dress or something; it just wouldn't work for me. So I definitely try to look to those designers that kind of tailor for my kind of body. Ganni is so great for that because it's got so many different shapes, and it's got the fitted wrap stuff, as well as more of an oversized style.


(Image credit: PHILL TAYLOR)

What acting projects do you have coming up?

At the moment, I am filming season three of The Witcher, which I don't know when it's going to come out, but that will be for the foreseeable. [For season two], we started filming just before the pandemic, and then it came out around Christmas. So it feels like that went on for ages! I think this one will be a bit of a quicker turnaround. So it'll be interesting to see what happens with that. But yeah, I'm excited to see the next adventure. I think it hasn't really dawned on me yet that I’m on a Netflix show. It's very bizarre to think that other people are watching in the same way that I'm watching Selling Sunset and how it could access so many people, and things just kind of take off on there. Fantasy attracts loads of different fans, which is kind of amazing. Because the books are Polish, there’s a big Eastern European fan base. And then obviously, you've got Henry Cavill in it, who's Superman, essentially!


(Image credit: PHILL TAYLOR; STYLING: Queens of Archie dress; Nodaleto shoes; Completedworks earrings)

What other projects have you loved working on?

I've always done acting. My first-ever acting role was Harry Potter. I was Romilda Vane. I feel like I've been typecast as a bit of a witch! It's like, to do something non-witchy one day, but the witchiness has served me well so far. I mean, Harry Potter is a good way to start. It was bonkers because I was 15 at the time, and it was kind of just like going to Hogwarts. And it felt totally normal at the time, and looking back, I can't believe what an incredible experience that was. I was in three films, and everyone was so lovely. I'm still friends with those guys today. And it sometimes dawns on me on what a major experience that was, but part of me is very glad that I didn't understand that at the time. [It] kind of felt like school. I'm glad that I had that attitude rather than getting swept up in the madness of it all because you definitely can. I think, because everyone was so young, they really knew that they had to keep everyone really structured with schooling and tutoring. And, you know, everyone was treated so well. It was a real operation. I really miss these days; they were really magical. And just all the amazing actors that were in it—like I can't believe I worked with Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman and all these amazing people. I hope I didn't peak then! It was a joy to have as my first-ever job. Even the tutoring was fun. Everything just felt so special. 

I'd love to do something that would be fashion-y and more specific to a time period like the '60s. Costume is a more imaginative way to dress and to be dressed by the costume department. It'd be nice to do something more historical. I'd love all the hairstyles of the '60s, and then you could keep some amazing wardrobe pieces maybe, that would be ideal!


(Image credit: PHILL TAYLOR; STYLING: Molly Goddard dress; Gia Couture x Alex Eagle shoes; Ashley Williams earrings)

Thanks for having us, Anna!

Shop Anna's Style:

Up next, eight going-out looks that aren't too try-hard.

Hannah Almassi
Editor in Chief

Hannah Almassi is the Editor in Chief of Who What Wear UK. Hannah has been part of the the Who What Wear brand since 2015, when she was headhunted to launch the UK sister site and social channels, implement a localised content strategy and build out the editorial team. She joined following a seven-year tenure at Grazia magazine, where she led front-of-book news, fashion features and shopping specials as fashion news and features editor. With experience in both print and digital across fashion and beauty, Hannah has over 16 years in the field as a journalist, editor, content strategist and brand consultant. Hannah has interviewed industry heavyweights such as designers including Marc Jacobs and Jonathan Anderson through to arbiters of taste including Katie Grand and Anna Dello Russo. A skilled moderator and lecturer specialising in the shift to digital media and e-commerce, Hannah’s opinion and work has been sought by the likes of CNBC, BBC, The Sunday Times Style, The Times, The Telegraph and, among many others. Hannah is often called upon for her take on trends, becoming known as a person with their finger of the pulse of what’s happening in the fashion space for stylish Brits. Hannah currently resides in Eastbourne with her photographer husband, incredibly busy son and highly Instagrammable cat.

With contributions from