In the same way that there is a mythical allure attached to French style, there is something magical and intangibly cool attached to the Olsens. Their über-luxurious brand, The Row, has fared well through the pandemic months, with retailer tidbits coming into us that those with the wealth are bulk-buying the brand's fine-quality basics, such as perfect-fit jumpers, plain trousers and pared-back leather goods. It's the trousers from this label that have been particularly popular of late. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Danielle Haim and Kendall Jenner have all been spotted in a pair of beige slacks that could easily pass of as vintage or menswear or from some small minimalistic indie brand, and yet the £1400 Phoebe trousers have become a cult item because it's well-documented that Ashley and Mary-Kate push the fit, finish and final details of each and every seemingly simple design to the max. In real life, when you get to caress pieces from The Row, they are beautiful.
Despite their dedication to creating only the most indulgent of wardrobe staples, the look is, if we're honest, actually quite a simple one to re-create. No, your secondhand and high-street homages won't have the same grade A cashmere touch, but if this vibe appeals to you, there are ways around it on a budget.
1. WHEN IN DOUBT, WEAR BLACK
"Black crows" was the term Suzy Menkes used a couple of years ago to describe what the fashion set once dressed like, before the explosion of documented street style shifted the look toward more outré ensembles. The Olsens still stand by this non-colour as their number one option for both casual and high-profile events. If you have black clothes in your wardrobe, try wearing them all at once with glowy skin, mermaid hair and a smize.
2. AND EVEN AT OTHER TIMES, KEEP IT NEUTRAL
So when black isn't on the agenda, things still need to be muted to feel like The Row. Occasionally, the design duo will introduce a pop of colour—a russet knit here, a claret satin bag there—but in general, things are either beige, white, cream, black or brown. This is not a world where printed co-ords or trending hues come into play.
3. GO (LITERALLY) BIG OR GO HOME
Both the Olsens' and The Row's biggest fans like volume and loose-fitting cuts. So it would seem that a fast track to Row-ing yourself up is to wear things big. However, I would add that many of these oversized pieces are often tailored and still have structure rather than, say, a giant sweatshirt or stretchy trousers. Dainty accessories are a good way to balance things out.
4. NEVER, EVER WEAR HEELS YOU CAN'T WALK IN—IN FACT, JUST WEAR FLATS
Suffice to say that Mary-Kate and Ashley are very rarely photographed in high heels, except for a few fancy event moments. More commonly, you'll find these two wearing flip-flops, ballet pumps and chunky boots. I remember Monikh (pictured here wearing The Row sandals) telling me that there's something about flat shoes that makes every outfit look that little bit cooler and more laid-back. She's right.
5. THAT NECKLACE YOU BOUGHT ON YOUR GAP YEAR? IT'S A SPECIAL ARTISANAL PIECE
While the twins aren't as boho now as their days being styled by Rachel Zoe, there is often a little hippy lilt to their accessory choices. Choosing artisanal jewellery or vintage evening bags, for example, is a very Olsen move. Whether you picked up a necklace on your travels a decade ago or can simply find something unique via Etsy or your local charity stores, this will add that point of interest to a super-simple outfit. Dream big and come up with an extravagant story to explain where and how you came across this rare find.
6. LOOK FOR SECONDHAND AND VINTAGE BASICS
The majority of Huntington-Whiteley's look here is from The Row, but I can assure you there are suitable get-the-look alternatives available at both the more minimal high-street stores (think COS, Weekday or Arket) as well as vintage and secondhand shops. Sometimes it's a case of deciding, "Right, I want to find some baggy white trousers," and being dedicated enough to finding the perfect pair. It can take time but far better to pinpoint a wardrobe staple you'll wear on repeat than to fall into a trend trap on a whim.
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 hired to launch a UK sister site and social channels, localise 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 15 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 and MatchesFashion.com, among many others.
Hannah currently resides in Eastbourne with her photographer husband, incredibly busy toddler and highly Instagrammable cat.