Written by Bertie Bowen


Dressing like… Stella Gibson

Fashion stylist Bertie Bowen channels the clothes and spirit of a fictional character. This week, ahead of season three’s finale tomorrow, she takes a studied look at The Fall’s perfectly turned out detective.

Keeping it in neutral: The Fall's Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson). Photos: BBC.

Keeping it in neutral: The Fall‘s Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson). Photos: BBC.

The Fall is back with a third series and, I would argue, it’s the best one yet – because we’re finally learning a bit more about the elusive Stella.

Played by Gillian Anderson, she’s perfect in that imperfect and complex way a character we can truly sink our teeth into should be. She is utterly transfixing, profoundly perplexing and downright frustrating at times. I cannot get enough of her.

And though Stella may not be particularly likeable, her style is most definitely enviable. How does she achieve such all-encompassing coolness? Let’s delve inside her wardrobe and perhaps we can reveal some of that mysterious stone cold soul and pick up some styling tips along the way.

Fabrics and texture

I want to stroke Stella. Not in a sexual way (although that is sometimes true, too), I mean her clothes are just begging to be touched. She oozes luxury with her smooth silk blouses and soft cashmere coats. She just looks expensive, yet never ostentatiously so.

“As someone who looks like Tina Turner with a terrible case of piles when I try to walk in heels, I envy Stella this skill immensely.”

She achieves this by sticking to minimal, smart tailoring; her style is understated yet imposing, mirroring her persona with precision. It’s time to adopt the ‘less is more’ attitude.

Work uniform

Stella’s style is consistent: a blouse, pencil skirt, heels and coat. She also adheres to a strict neutral colour palette of blacks, greys and creams. If we could see inside her wardrobe, no doubt her clothes would be hung on matching hangers and ordered by colour and season.

Stella has streamlined her style for minimum fuss so she can focus on her true passion: getting the bad guy (and sometimes getting the bad boy into bed). I would love a slice of her organisation. Bet she never runs out of clean pants.


I wonder what Stella wears in her spare time? Perhaps she flounces about in sumptuous underwear (a matching set always) a silk robe and cashmere socks; we can only speculate. What we do see a glimpse of is how Stella relaxes after a hard day at the office and that’s at the pool, swimming lengths. She expertly glides through the water wearing a black sporty style one-piece, goggles and a swimming cap.

Stella swimming
This sartorial thoroughness reveals several things about her disposition: if she is going to do something, she’ll do it right and she will put the effort in – she won’t ever do things by halves. Not only that, she will do it with gritty determination.

I should take a leaf out of her book; I never seem to complete even the simplest task before getting distracted. At least twice a day my tea is stewed due to forgetfulness while walking from kettle to fridge to retrieve the milk.


Stella wears heels, all day, every day and you can bet she works long hours without changing into a pair of ugly Asics trainers when she leaves the office every evening. More importantly, Stella never looks uncomfortable in her heels and they never compromise her job.

In fact, she makes heels look easy, almost an extension of her feet. She can run in those heels and skip or dance if she needs to (which she might – her job role is pretty varied). As someone who looks like Tina Turner with a terrible case of piles when I try to walk in heels, I envy her this skill immensely.


This season, why not accessorise with a sinister serial-killer apparition?

Perfection (on the outside)

Stella is always incredibly well groomed. She looks impeccable even when splattered with blood. She never has as much as a hair out of place, her porcelain skin is flawless and you can bet your giddy aunt her nail varnish is never chipped.

But this perfection disguises a dark and broken interior. Stella hides a fucked up past (like all good TV detectives) that makes her even more intriguing. She never lets her mask slip – well she hasn’t yet and this, I think, is what I’m actually waiting for.

I’m on tenterhooks every week to see what Stella will do next; she never fails to surprise me. For all her chic and cool exterior, what I’m really searching for is her human side. I want her to expose her weaknesses, lose control, reveal some of her past. And, of course, I really want to know if I am right about what she wears on her days off…

Have Bertie help you channel some other icons here.


Enjoyed this? Help Standard Issue keep going by joining our gang. Click here to find out how.

  • googleplus
  • linkedin
  • rss
  • pinterest

Written by Bertie Bowen

Stylist, writer and mother living in East London. A clompy shoed, curly haired, Radio 4 enthusiast. www.mothershoppers.com