Theatre star Ruthie Henshall: Audrey Hepburn is my style icon'
Ruthie Henshall is an English actress, singer and dancer known for her work in musical theatre
Over the past 30 years, Ruthie, 50, has starred in many of the most popular stage musicals including Cats, Miss Saigon, Crazy For You, Oliver, A Chorus Line, Les Misérables and Chicago.
Most recently in Billy Elliott, she is currently rehearsing for Bravo: Cruise Of The Performing Arts alongside Alfie Boe and Katherine Jenkins.
Ruthie also presents on Magic Radio on Sundays. She lives in Essex with her two daughters Lily, 14, and Dolly, 12.
How would you describe your style? Old-fashioned girl. I love beautiful fabrics and classic, timeless styles.
Which colours and shapes suit you best? I’m small and look terrible in anything shapeless. I need structure. As for colours, I love rich, jewel tones – I’m not a pastel girl – and I love sumptuous fabrics, especially velvet and lace.
What is your favourite fashion era? The 40s and 50s old Hollywood, when women wore hats, gloves, matching shoes and handbags. I wish we could live like that now but it wouldn’t be practical – we are all in too much of a hurry. Who has time to curl their hair before going to bed?
What are your favourite high-street brands? Cos, Zara and Coast.
What is your go-to jeans brand? Hollister. I can pick up a pair for about £40 in a clearance.
Who is your favourite designer? Betsey Johnson. I discovered her in 1997 when I was in Chicago in the West End – I found the shop and loved everything. It’s so theatrical, beautiful, lavish, quirky and whimsical. I also love Elie Saab.
From left to right, Ruthie wears:
A selection of her jewellery. The cameo portrait necklace and silver leaf ring from Tiffany were gifts from her mother; the hair clip is vintage; the heart necklace was bought in Mexico by her ex-husband
This silk and chiffon gown and wrap by Valentino is the most expensive outfit in Ruthie’s wardrobe
Her burgundy hoodie and black top are vintage Betsey Johnson
Ruthie wears a purple velvet dress by Callaghan. She bought it 24 years ago and still regularly wears it. The black velvet evening boots by Stuart Weitzman are eight years old
Do you have a style icon? Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly and Katharine Hepburn from all their movies when they looked so impeccable and stylish. As a single, working mum, most days I only have time to pull on jeans and a T-shirt.
What will you wear on the Bravo cruise? Lots of sparkly eye-catching costumes. It’s a 3,000-berth ship so it’s going to be a fantastic, captive audience as we travel the Mediterranean. We’ll pull out all the stops.
Are you a hoarder or do you clear out your wardrobe each season? I clear out my wardrobe all the time but I keep hold of timeless, investment pieces. Most of the pieces I’m wearing for this feature are at least 15 years old. Some of my favourites, like my jumpsuit, I wore during my pregnancies.
How many shoes and handbags do you own? I’m not a shoes and handbags person. I only possess two handbags, including a Mulberry Bayswater. I sold three bags bought in my pre-children days on eBay to fund it.
What is your current favourite outfit? A black lace H&M day dress with a classic Levi’s denim jacket, black opaque tights and Stuart Weitzman ankle boots.
From left to right, Ruthie wears:
This black suit is by Alice And Olivia, her peep toes by Prada and the silver necklace, from Tiffany, was a gift from Ruthie’s mum
The star adores lace and velvet. Her jumpsuit and black and white dress are by Betsey Johnson
Her black satin evening skirt is from Coast and the diamanté earring (as brooch) and diamanté bracelet are both Butler & Wilson
Ruthie’s Prada heels are old favourites. The black evening bag is vintage
Is there an old favourite you turn to in a wardrobe crisis? A figure-hugging stretchy black lace dress by Bisou Bisou which was my go-to audition, pregnancy and opening-night dress. I bought it in a little boutique in New York for $12, about 20 years ago.
How much do you spend on clothes each month? Between £100 and £200. It’s my treat money, to spend on myself, without guilt. Every woman deserves that.
What is the most expensive item in your wardrobe? And best bargain? The most expensive is my Valentino dress bought for the opening night of She Loves Me 24 years ago. It cost £2,500. My best bargain is a long, gold sequin dress with a corset back, which I got free from a show.
What is the oldest item in your wardrobe? A long, purple velvet dress with long sleeves.
Who made your wedding dress? Lindka Cierach. I was five and a half months pregnant when I married and I was in a dilemma about what to wear. Lindka made me the most amazing dress and matching coat which I’ve since had altered into a stage dress.
Audrey Hepburn is Ruthie’s style icon
Have you a favourite little black dress? My Bisou Bisou dress – it’s so versatile.
What is the one item of clothing you couldn’t live without? Jeans.
What is your favourite piece of jewellery? I wear silver, never gold, and I like Butler & Wilson vintage diamanté-style pieces. But my favourite items belonged to my mother – she has dementia and is in a home now, but a while ago she let me and my sisters choose pieces from her jewellery box.
What item of clothing would you save from a burning house? Nothing. I’d miss a handful of things but none are irreplaceable.
Ruthie will be appearing at the Bravo Performing Arts Cruise from May 19 to 26. Visit bravocruise.co.uk/2018.
She is also on Magic Radio, Sundays 3pm to 6pm, playing relaxing classics and musical numbers.