Donna Ida: the denim specialist

We’ve had a chat with Donna Ida Thornton, “queen” of denim retail, owner of four cult boutiques in London and creator of her own personal line of jeans, Only for us her tips. Notebooks out.


How many jeans do you own?
Not as many as you think – maybe 20 or 30?

Your favourite jeans.
I like skinny jeans the best in winter as they are so much more versatile, but in summer a flare is my favourite. They feel so chic.

Do you have preferences in terms of washing?
I wash my jeans “Denim Wash” from  The Laundress as it is designed to take care of the fabric and the colour. I always recommend reading the care label, and if it says cold, wash them in cold water, not 30 degrees.

How many jeans every woman should own,and in particular what is the model that every woman should have?
I wear jeans every day even when I need to look smart. Jeans are not just denim anymore, they are so versatile and they look cool. A good basic is a skinny or slim leg jean as they can be dressed up for evening or dressed down for day, you can wear them with flats or heels, or tuck them into boots in the winter. Bootcut and flare are really flattering on a lot of women, and in Donna Ida shops we can alter the leg length to fit perfectly.

The evergreen: that do not has seasons and is immune to fashion.
A classic Bootcut in a mid blue works in most situations and doesn’t date. The modern equivalent is the skinny jean.

Let’s talk about accessories (shoes and bags) What are the best to wear with bootcut?
Simple classic jeans with heeled boots and a structured bag like a Hermès “Birkin” for a chic look for every day.

Full length boyfriends are best with flats and a shoulder bag.

Wear these with a simple tee and jacket and finish off with a pointed court black shoe and a Chanel bag.

I like flares worn with chunky heels or wedges and an oversize tan bag, plus some big hair, very Charlie’s Angels style.

Crops are great in summer and look super cute with pumps or with espadrilles for a fresh feel. In Winter, ankle boots are the way forward.

With skinny, everything goes but my favourite look is to wear with peep toe heels (always heels) or sandals and a small shoulder bag.

Your favourite accessories.
I love scarves it can really change my outfit.

What new denim designers and brands should we be keeping an eye on?
FRAME Denim is our new favourite brand: the lines are clean, simple and modern.

What absolute don’ts are there in the world of denim?
There aren’t any don’ts in the world of denim, and that’s what I like about it so much! Just think of Kate Moss’s “denim on denim” look, or the Yasmin Sewell dungarees: would you ever have thought they’d make a comeback? Don’t be afraid to have fun with jeans – you can wear them in a different way each season!

What is the current most sought-after brand?
J Brand continues to impress season after season. They always seem to be a step ahead of the others. Their designs, colours and prints are perfect!

What advice do your customers ask for the most?
Everyone wants the same thing: to feel fabulous in their pair of jeans. This is why we have our Denim Clinic service in our Donna Ida boutiques – you can book a private appointment with a stylist. When I look at someone I can see straight away what style of jeans would be best for their body. Each brand is slightly different – it all depends on the height of the waist, the shape of the legs and the amount of stretch fabric. My mission is to find the perfect pair of jeans for each woman!

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