Being the height of fashion on TV

Hannah Davies chats to North East tonight presenter Philippa Tomson on clothes and the perils of dressing for TV.

Hannah Davies chats to North East tonight presenter Philippa Tomson on clothes and the perils of dressing for TV.

Pretty and stylishly contemporary, you wouldn't have thought 29-year-old Phillipa Tomson would have once found herself dressing like a woman 30 years older.

But the presenter of ITV's North East Tonight explains she has had her fair share of TV fashion disasters.

And while most of ours are safely free from scrutiny - hers have been on show to thousands.

Philippa lives in Gateshead with her three-year-old Tibetan Terrier dog BG. She is from York but her parents now live in Worcestershire.

She moved to the North-East last year from Midlands-based ITV Central, where she was a presenter and reporter.

Philippa began her journalism training straight from school when she won a place on a course run by her local newspaper.

Philippa, or Pip, is currently the voice of walking tours in Newcastle and Gateshead and works as a freelance consultant for the multi-media production company Picture Farm.

What is your biggest fashion disaster?

Probably too many to mention but I don't remember my teenage gothic look with much affection!

What is the hardest thing about dressing for TV?

Finding something to wear. If it's the right colour, it's the wrong cut and if it's the right cut, it's the wrong colour. What looks good in the changing rooms doesn't always work on screen. For me, it's a uniform and when the cameras stop rolling, I can't wait to throw on something more casual.

Do you feel under pressure to look a certain way?

When I first started television news presenting, I felt I had to dress in a very mature style. I began buying these bright, badly tailored jackets which really weren't suitable for a 20-something. I adopted a new shorter, layered hairstyle when I'd only ever had long hair and spent all day using rollers and hairspray. But as my confidence grew, I realised I had to be comfortable with how I looked. You can't deliver the news if you're fretting about your appearance. I think I've got it sussed now but I still have bad days.

What is your favourite item in your wardrobe?

My skinny jeans from Gap. Plus they're a good indicator if I think I've put on weight.

How does your "dressed down" style differ from your on-screen persona?

At home, I'm a jeans and T-shirt girl and I wear much less make-up. I'm not the most patient of people so you won't find me in front of the mirror for long. Tinted moisturiser, mascara, blusher and lip gloss is all I need. Oh and hair straighteners.

What is your ideal going out outfit?

My jeans and long boots. Or if I'm feeling really confident and leggy, one of my short skirts. Or should that be a pelmet.

What is your staying at home outfit?

Jeans and combats. Anything that lets me roll around on the floor playing with the dog or give him a humungous hug.

Do you feel at all defined by your clothes?

Of course. Thousands of people see me in them every day. I receive some lovely letters from female viewers asking me where I bought bits of my wardrobe but I actually tend to get recognised when I'm in non-work mode.

What are the no-nos for dressing for TV?

For television news, don't wear anything too fussy because it distracts the viewer. Don't wear vertical stripes because it makes the picture strobe. Don't wear all black. Viewers don't need to feel like they're attending a funeral but then again don't wear anything too bright. They're not at the circus either.

How important a part does fashion play in your life?

I keep a sneaky eye on it but I just like to be comfortable. Fashion is changing all the time and to be honest, I don't know how people can afford to update their wardrobe every year or every season. Put it this way, you'll never find me queuing for the latest `must have' handbag.

Who is your favourite designer?

Alvin Loy. He's a friend of mine and has been working for Christian Dior in New York. I've modelled for him at his charity fashion shows and he's very generous lending me outfits for corporate events. They always fit brilliantly.

How many pairs of shoes do you own?

More boots than shoes. And that includes Wellington boots for walking the dog.

Talk us through the outfits you are wearing ...

A wrap dress from Phase Eight. My wardrobe at work used to be crammed with jackets but I think a dress can look just as smart and a little less stuffy.

Jacket and cream trousers from Phase Eight. You quickly learn what colours suit you and someone always tells you if it doesn't.

I like to think cream suits me on screen. I've also dug out a tunic top by Jasper Conran at Debenhams and skinny jeans from Gap. My boots are from Dune.


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