How to Get Ahead: Vivienne Westwood

Vivienne Westwood “Learn from those who’ve come before you. This is true for any discipline, not just fashion. It’s a sickness of the modern age – all too often, people decide they want to do something but don’t take the time to master the discipline in the first place.”
[Vivienne Westwood, quote from ‘Grazia’ magazine January 18, 2010]

Vivienne Westwood


You don’t have to like fashion to have heard of Dame Vivienne Westwood. She truly is one alone. She has designed and sold clothes since 1971 when her boyfriend Malcolm McLaren opened a shop called Let It Rock at 430 King’s Road, London, challenging the establishment every step of the way in her own eccentric inspirational way. As a young Yorkshire journalist in London, she showed me that it was okay to have a northern accent.

What Westwood is saying here is ‘learn the rules before you break them’. Not something you want to hear when you are young but something that does apply to writing. Perhaps it’s the journalist in me but I have always been a bit of a stickler for the Style Book, and I know I continue to use the same grammatical and style rules I learned as a trainee journalist. In making the transition from journalist to novelist, I found it difficult to let those rules go.

So, master the discipline. And learn from the master writers: listen to authors speak, read interviews with authors in which they explain their writing methods, attend creative writing classes. Practise, write something every day. Stories, exercises, poetry, plays, try writing them all.

And above all, read. I do not understand writers who say they do not read. How can they become masters of their craft, if they write in isolation?

To visit Vivienne Westwood’s website, click here.
To watch a BBC interview with Vivienne Westwood about a wedding dress she designed, which is on show now at the Victoria & Albert Museum’s ‘Wedding Dresses’ exhibition, click here.
Miss Piggy finally met Vivienne Westwood recently, watch the discussion here.

Vivienne Westwood


‘Vogue on Vivienne Westwood’ by Linda Watson [UK: Picador] Buy now

Try these tips to get ahead:-
Nicky Kinnaird
Kate Turner
Sarah Sands

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Learn from those who’ve come before: advice from #fashion designer #VivienneWestwood via @SandraDanby #amwriting


  1. I agree with your thoughts in this post; especially, I can’t imagine not reading! (And of course, who can resist an interview with Miss Piggy?

  2. Excellent blog post, Sandra. Some valuable statements we should never forget: ‘learn the rules before you break them’; ‘And above all, read.’ 🙂