Hannah Waddingham is the style icon we all need, here's why (2024)

Hannah Waddingham is the style icon we all need, here's why (1)

From bold suits to mermaid-inspired gowns, the star's style always delivers.

By Alice Hare

They say life begins at 40. But it can be hard to believe it in a social landscape that over the past decade or so has become fixated upon the concept of instant success. This is the type of success that breeds seemingly overnight twenty-something billionaires and then drip feeds us continual images of them in all their unapologetic glamour. The result? We subconsciously begin to think that style and success are perhaps the sole reserve of those born post 1990.

Enter a much-needed antidote: Hannah Waddingham.

Obviously, the 49-year-old Wandsworth-born actress has always been successful (starring in Ted Lasso, Sex Education and Game of Thrones to name but a few) and had style in spades. But it’s in the past year particularly that her clothing choices have really started to garner attention. Who said midlife equated to mediocrity in the style stakes? Certainly neither Waddingham nor her stylist James Yardley, with whom she has been working for three years. It was a chance encounter, but one that paid off: Yardley received a last-minute call saying Waddingham needed a dress for the Critics’ Choice Awards in 2020, and he pulled it out of the bag. Waddingham’s gain was also ours – ever since, Yardley has dressed the star in a myriad of show-stopping looks that have demonstrated, yes, you can still have fun with fashion in midlife.

Where to begin? The natural place would seem the looks worn by Waddingham to host Eurovision last year. One fan tweeted afterwards, "Whoever hired Hannah Waddingham for Eurovision should probably be made Director General of the BBC." Quite the feedback. But it was no surprise – not only did she bring a warmth and humour to proceedings (oh, and fluent French – she explained some of the competition’s rules in the language) but made the show a sartorial spectacle too. Television is a visual medium – we watch it for the beauty it shows us as much as the information it feeds us – so what presenters wear is important. Waddingham’s stylist Yardley also works with Tess Daly for Strictly Come Dancing, so knows this all too well.

Hannah Waddingham is the style icon we all need, here's why (3)

Hannah alongside Alesha Dixon and Julia Sanina at the Eurovision Semi Final, wearing Suzanne Neville.

There was a sweetheart-neckline gown with high-low hem by London dressmaker Suzanne Neville, crafted in a pale lemon pleated chiffon. It was old Hollywood glamour, but with a modern twist courtesy of its unexpected mini hemline at the front. Then there was the unforgettable rainbow gown by Greek designer Costarellos that Waddingham chose for the competition’s semi-final. The cape-sleeved, v-neck silhouette was, again, old Hollywood-inspired, but rendered modern through its rainbow lurex georgette fabric.

For the competition’s final, there were two looks – naturally. The first was a hyper-feminine, off-shoulder, corseted dress by Bulgarian-designer KolchagovBarba. The corset fitted Waddingham to perfection – of course, since Kolchagov had previously worked for queen of corsetry Vivienne Westwood, no less. But, again, the dress had that essential edge that made it cool and contemporary as opposed to too classic. It was made from an iridescent sequin fabric that was all kinds of mermaidcore. Gen Z and quinquagenarians alike were in awe. Waddingham’s final look of the competition – a strapless lilac dress with flowing chiffon sleeves by Lebanese couturier Fadwa Baalbaki – similarly fused vintage inspirations with modernity to the same perfectly-balanced effect. Beadwork experts Bang London covered the gown in crystals by hand.

Hannah Waddingham is the style icon we all need, here's why (4)

Hannah wears bespoke KolchagovBarba at Eurovision 2023.

Even in the fantasy world of couture gowns, the way in which Hannah combines modern and vintage nods is an approach we can all incorporate into our wardrobes. And that’s precisely the appeal of Hannah’s style: it’s aspirational and achingly chic but somehow still feels like something us mere mortals could, if not replicate entirely (oh, to have somewhere to wear the lace gown she wore to January’s Golden Globes), at least be inspired by and pull lessons from. She tells us that dramatic, all-out dressing does not have to end once you reach a certain age. In other words, you don’t have to fade into the background.

Hannah Waddingham is the style icon we all need, here's why (5)

The star channelled gothic glamour at the 2024 Golden Globes in a black lace gown.

The sage green Marchesa gown Waddingham wore to the Emmy’s last month? It provided a double dose of drama courtesy of its opulent beading and hyper-ruffled mermaid-style hem. For an easy route to instant drama that’s more useful to those without anywhere to wear a ruffled mermaid skirt, borrow Hannah’s trick of colour blocking head-to-toe. For the opening of the play Plaza Suite at the Savoy Theatre in London last month, Waddingham’s choice of a structured satin suit and matching shirt – all in the same striking cornflower blue hue – made for an impactful head-to-toe colour blocking moment.

Hannah Waddingham is the style icon we all need, here's why (6)

While attending the premiere of Plaza Suite, the award-winning actress opted for a cornflower blue suit.

Hannah is a style chameleon – able to adapt her look to whatever the needs of the situation she finds herself in. She wears tailoring as well as she does gowns and couture as well as she does M&S. In fact, the brand chose her to star in their Christmas campaign last year — and the sequin dress she wore in the advert reportedly sold at a rate of one every minute. One thing’s for sure: Waddingham ain’t no wallflower, and we should all be following her lead.

Watch Next

Hannah Waddingham is the style icon we all need, here's why (7)

Advertisem*nt - Continue Reading Below

App Good Looks Fashion Block 1

The best places to shop for trousersStrictly’s Dianne Buswell debuts new hairstyleDemi Moore's dramatic look has a nostalgic nodFind your fashion mojo again

Advertisem*nt - Continue Reading Below

Myleene Klass is fabulous in leopard printBoden's new Ibiza dress is a wardrobe must-haveAndie Macdowell nails city break dressing
Anne Hathaway wears a high street white midi dressCate Blanchett dazzles at Cannes Billie Piper's accessorises with long stem rosesClaudia Winkleman looks stylish in a white suit

Advertisem*nt - Continue Reading Below

Hannah Waddingham is the style icon we all need, here's why (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Tuan Roob DDS

Last Updated:

Views: 5836

Rating: 4.1 / 5 (42 voted)

Reviews: 89% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Tuan Roob DDS

Birthday: 1999-11-20

Address: Suite 592 642 Pfannerstill Island, South Keila, LA 74970-3076

Phone: +9617721773649

Job: Marketing Producer

Hobby: Skydiving, Flag Football, Knitting, Running, Lego building, Hunting, Juggling

Introduction: My name is Tuan Roob DDS, I am a friendly, good, energetic, faithful, fantastic, gentle, enchanting person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.