It’s a surprise Tom O’Dell doesn’t get himself into a lather more often. Because, between his interior styling, brand consultancy, content creation and visual merchandising duties, the film costumier must be one of the busiest men in London. And yet, despite all of these roles and responsibilities, he remains remarkably lather-less.
Except, of course, when he’s using products from Heath London; the modern British grooming brand O’Dell helped to develop, grow and continues to creatively lead. His natural, neutral style has become something of a hallmark for the brand — as it has for every one of the wide-ranging, far-reaching projects the stylist is involved in.
So how does he do it? How does he balance his extensive enterprises and still maintain some semblance of order in his everyday life? Because you must only take a cursory look at O’Dell’s carefully curated Instagram page (@odellsstudios) to see that he is nothing but effortlessly, elegant organised. Routine, O’Dell tells us, is key — and admits there is no better city in which to establish daily patterns and practices than London.
“I feel so lucky to live in such a wonderful city,” says O’Dell, who moved to London 17 years ago after cutting his teeth in a traditional menswear shop in his hometown of Bedford. Ever since, the stylist has explored almost every inch of the capital — even opening his own store in Shoreditch in 2016. So what does a perfect London day look like for the stylist? From his morning coffee to his evening routines and rituals, we spend a day with Tom O’Dell…
How would an ordinary day begin for you — if you ever have an ‘ordinary day’?
If I’m not working on set, I’ll get up around 7:30AM and normally start the day with a short cycle over to Peckham for a yoga session or a steady run. On my return, I’ll pop the radio on and open the back doors that lead onto my garden. I’ll then follow this with a long warm shower, in which I’ll use Heath ‘Hair + Body Wash’ and Heath ‘Charcoal and Black Lava Face Wash’, which are both revitalising and energising.
I like a routine, and Heath has been a part of my morning showers for just over four years. It makes me feel ready for the day ahead, whether I’m using it at home — or when travelling. It’s also one of the first things that goes in my suitcase.
For my post-shower regime, I’ll brush my teeth, quickly do my hair and — without fail — apply the brilliant Heath ‘Moisturiser’, which always leaves my skin feeling fresh, hydrated and ready for the day ahead. Coffee comes next; the first of the day, made at home with my 1940s Italian stovetop coffee maker. I’ll enjoy this in the garden with my cats, if the weather suits. Then it’s just a check of my emails, and I’m ready to leave the house.
What about wardrobe? Do you plan what you’re going to wear ahead of the day?
Routine is important to me — especially if I’m working on a film. It’s important to be focused and ready for the day ahead, and early call times on-set mean that I need to be organised. So, over the past 18 months, I’ve started prepping my outfit the evening before.
That means carefully ironing and hanging out my outfit so it’s ready for the morning — from polishing my shoes to hanging out the trousers and jacket I have picked out to wear. I’ll also pick out a watch and lay this next to my wallet, car keys and bag. Most evenings, my house resembles a nice menswear shop. The only thing missing is a till…
And what does your wider wardrobe look like? Is there a lot to choose from?
I have a collection of over 40 pairs of shoes. They’re mostly smart, from Oxfords to vintage brogues and loafers, so I enjoy picking out the perfect pair for each occasion. I’m also lucky to have collected a wide inventory of beautiful menswear over the years, from bespoke trousers and vintage jackets to a nice selection of both new and vintage knitwear.
My favourite items include my selection of bespoke pleated trousers — made by my good friend and designer Scott Simpson, and my vintage alpaca wool coat from the 1960s; a particular favourite amongst my wardrobe of coats. There’s also my super soft belted suede jacket from the 1950s, that has become a real go-to item in the last two years. And I’d also have to mention my three pairs of French paraboots. Accessories-wise, I enjoy collecting both ties — I have 87 and counting — and vintage watches. I purchased my first vintage watch in 2011, a 1966 Omega Seamaster, and I’ve built up a special collection over the years.
If you were to head out for your morning coffee, where would that be? And how do you take it?
Morning coffee is at Fowlds Cafe in Camberwell. I’ve been going since they opened nine years ago; it’s a small but perfectly formed coffee shop at the front of a 150-year-old upholstery workshop, and on a quiet leafy street five minutes from my house. I’d go for an oat flat white, have a little chat with the staff and a sit on the benches outside, before having a quick read of the news and catching up on emails. It’s a great spot and one I highly recommend.
So what was your favourite recent project?
I worked on the upcoming Edgar Wright film, Last Night in Soho, as a men’s costume fitter. It was a wonderful experience, and a dream come true to work with such an extremely talented and lovely team — not to mention a BAFTA-winning costume designer in Odile Dicks-Mireaux .
My role on-set was to fit almost 150 men in 1960s day and evening suits for close to four months. The film comes out in October and I can’t wait to see it. I’ll never forget the opportunity I was given and I feel so grateful that I was able to work on such a special project.
Would you say, in costuming, this style would be your speciality?
Yes, I’d probably say 20th century period menswear. I love the clothes from that period; the quality of the build and the detail that can be added into each costume. In 2021, my working year actually began with a film that’s set in 1953, and then I took my first assistant costume designer role on a BBC factual drama set in 1990s London. And I’ve got lots of exciting things in the pipeline for the end of the year — and 2022.
This year has been a busy one, and some of the weeks have been very long. But I’ve made sure to look after myself by keeping up with my running, looking after my hands using Heath’s ‘Hand Salve’ and trying to get a good night’s sleep.
Your work takes you all over London. How do you get around?
By scooter. I love my scooter. Although this is my second one — my first, a 1967 cream scooter, sadly got stolen in 2019. Currently, I’m riding a beautiful 1968 Vespa Sprint. And I use it pretty much every day if I’m not having to go far for work. It’s the quickest way to get around London, and I love how it opens up new parts of the city. I especially love travelling over Waterloo bridge; heading into town on a warm summer day.
Just how wide-ranging is your work? And when did you first get involved with Heath London?
I’ve always been trusted to work across on a handful of different areas during the past 10 years. And one of my roles, which I’ve been in for over four years now, is working with Heath as a brand consultant. I worked with the owner, Harry Aaronson, and his family from day one — from product development and producing brand imagery to running the Heath Instagram account.
It’s been a great four years, and it’s been wonderful to see how the brand has grown. I actually helped develop some of the brand’s first products, from the award-winning ‘Moisturiser’ and ‘Eye Serum’ to my personal favourite, the ‘Face Wash’. The family always wanted to grow the brand organically and in the right way, and that’s really become the backbone to their success. Added to that, the products are vegan, 94% natural and all made in England.
So, after a long day’s work, where might you go for a casual meal — or a business dinner?
I love that I’ve met so many interesting talented, kind and inspiring people since I’ve been in London — and I love meeting up for lunch or dinner to catch-up. My favourites spots are Shoreditch’s Rochelle Canteen for lunch, Italo in Vauxhall for an informal coffee and pasta, and The Camberwell Arms for dinner and wine.
I also have to mention both Levan and Kudu in Peckham, which are also two of my favourite dinning spots; both have brilliant food and are close to home.
At the end of a day, you mustn’t have much spare time. What do you do with rare off-duty hours?
Weeks when filming can mean very long hours — sometimes up to 15-hour days. But, if I can, I’ll try to play football on a Thursday. I have played 6-a-side football, followed by a few pints, in Brixton for 13 years — for Brixton and Hove Albion. It honestly helps me relax and has been great for both my physical and mental health. I’ve also got many of them using Heath products. I know my good friend Phil now swears by the eye serum! So a good game, a catch up with friends and a long wind-down shower all helps me to relax.
Or, after a particularly long day, I like to water my garden and just sit — with some gentle music playing in the background — in the company of my partner and cats. That is, pretty much, my perfect evening.
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