You may recognise Andrea McLean as a friendly face from Loose Women. She was a presenter on the daytime TV show for more than 15 years but, taking time to talk to the fabulous 52-year-old, it’s clear to see she is much more than her successful TV career.
Andrea is open, honest, kind-hearted and really cares about making a positive difference to women’s lives – be it through her first fashion collection with Bonmarché, or through life coaching on her This Girl Is On Fire platform, which she launched with her husband three years ago.
We chat to the mum-of-two and fully fledged entrepreneur about why she thought Bonmarché was the perfect fit for a collaboration, how she’s going to be styling her favourite party frock come Christmas, and what female empowerment really means to her…
Huge congratulations on your collection with Bonmarché. You’ve turned down other fashion collaborations, but felt Bonmarché was a great match for you. Why is that?
Well, what made the little “ding” in my head was that they’re all about community, and that’s obviously what I do now – I help women through our community. I give loads of help and advice in terms of how to feel good every day. It’s not like dieting or exercising, it’s actually tiny little things, that’s how I see it.
So the synergy here just made sense to me. It’s not simply about, “Andrea, will you come on board and put a collection together?” It’s more about how we can work together to help women feel really great about themselves.
There are lots of comfortable, easy-to-wear pieces in the collection, including the party pieces (hooray!). Was this an important design element for you?
Yeah, because I think that if there was ever anything good to come out of Covid it was that we all went, “What have we been doing? Actually, I can look really nice and still feel comfortable. This is the real me.” Having clothes that you feel good in and can actually wear all day is really important.
Everyone used to laugh at me at Loose Women because, even though I had a very smart, “uniformed” look, I was always running down the corridor holding my heels, or wearing slippers just before I went on air – I’m not great in heels! [Laughs.]
Have you got a favourite piece from the collection and how will you be styling it this winter?
I really love the black shift dress I wore to my launch event, which also comes in plum. I came into London the night before with it packed in my suitcase. I got the train, the Tube, got to the hotel, hung it up and there wasn’t a crease in sight – that is what I really love about it.
Plus, the glitzy neckline is suitable for any age, the sleeve length is perfect to wear in winter or if you don’t like your arms, and it’s got that classic, almost 60s shape to it, which I think flatters everybody. I’ll be wearing it again with some silvery shoes.
You are the epitome of female empowerment. How did you want your fashion range to reflect this?
It’s just all about making women feel confident even if that’s just by putting on your favourite top. We do think of fashion as being, “Ugh, for goodness’ sake, how can you get so worked up over a blouse?”
But that feeling it gives you, when you put something on and you look in the mirror and go, “I look good in this, this really suits me,” you stand taller, you feel good about yourself. And it can change your whole outlook on the day.
The word “empowerment” can be a bit scary, because people think, “Oh my God, if I’m empowered do I have to be loud and shouty? Do I have to be leading from the front like Wonder Woman?” You don’t.
Empowerment can actually be a really quiet thing, and it’s just about feeling good about yourself in your own skin. I think people have underestimated me because I’m quiet but actually I’ve always had quite a strong sense of self-belief and knowing what I want to do, and I’ve quietly just got on and done it. To me, that’s what empowerment is.
How would you describe your own style?
Classic, and I suppose it always has been. I like things in fashion, and I do follow the style pages of the magazines, but I only choose things that I think will suit me, I’ve never followed, “This is bang on trend for the next two-and-a-half minutes.”
You have launched the amazing This Girl Is On Fire website and soon-to-be app – another big congratulations! Can you tell us more about it?
Basically it’s like a gym for the mind. We aim to help women think differently, with better thoughts. We’ve had a community of a few hundred women where we’ve been giving them masterclasses, podcasts and offer live coaching sessions as well.
I also now do webinars. Because everyone that joins is of the same mindset and it’s behind our walls, it’s a really positive, safe space. Women know that once they sign up, there’s no trolling, there’s no judgement, people can post whatever they like.
We’ve had people join from the Middle East, from America and Canada and they’re coming on board, joining having no clue that I’m Andrea McLean off Loose Women – they’ve never heard of me. They just really like what I’m doing. It was actually a big relief, because I’m not having to live up to my own hype, if you like, I’m just doing what I love to do. I get so excited seeing the difference it makes.
You’ve had a huge career in TV, are the CEO of your own business and have now teamed up with Bonmarché. What’s next for you, Andrea?
Well, I’ve just written my fourth book, You Just Need To Believe It – managed to squeeze that in! [Laughs.] It’s about overcoming fear, and based on leaving a job that I’d done for so long and taking that leap and, like I said, women saying to me “You’re so brave.” I thought, “I’m not brave, I’m scared but I’m doing it anyway.”
You don’t have to wait 52 years to learn how to be brave. Also, fingers crossed, I’m going to say it out loud and make it so, we’re launching This Guy Is On Fire. For me it always made total sense that we could offer the same thing to men. For lots of reasons.
Men need it as much as women do, but also if one half of a relationship is growing and the other is staying still, that will cause real discord. So if you’re both growing together it makes it a powerful thing. It’s going to be an exciting year ahead.
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