Sophie Brown, also known as FDLL, is a Bristol-based singer/songwriter. She is currently writing a collection of blues-inspired songs while cooking up some vocal lines for a secret project. Here, she talks to me about all things style.
Tell me about your style; is your look a result of years of crafting or has it just happened?
I guess my look is more about how I feel on the day, what makes me feel good and also what’s clean. I grew up seeing effortless style from my parents. Looking presentable was always a must in our house. My parent’s eclectic sense of taste transpired through music, food, politics, literature and film. This cultural vibrancy inspired our sense of style as children. Record covers stimulated my over-imaginative mind and inspired dressing up sessions with my sister that never left the house. In my teens, I was hugely influenced by disco, funk, world music and hip hop which has always flavoured my wardrobe. I like big statement jewellery, ethnic prints and a vintage heel. Having said that, I’ve always loved a trainer, an absolute 1990s staple. My floral vans are my favourite right now.
How has your style changed over the years?
Well, my jewellery is as it always was: big and statement. I’m certainly less 1970s looking now! I’m better at rocking classic wardrobe staples and I think with age I’ve become more body confident and more adventurous.
What is your first style-related memory?
I started to care about how I looked and what I wore towards the end of junior school. I remember when I was wearing baggy trousers, Global Hypercolour t-shirts and when I requested my first pair of high tops. I asked for a shell suit too, but thankfully I didn’t get one because I wasn’t really allowed to choose my own clothes then.
During college was the first time that I could really assert some autonomy over my style as it was freedom away from my school uniform. Park Street (Bristol), fit skater boys, Latin funk, 90s hip hop, disco and Jamiroquai were some of my influences back then, which translated into sky blue corduroy extreme flares, a sheer 90s-style top adorned with angels worn underneath a male tank top and Buffalo shoes. I wore outrageous blue/gold eyeshadow… before decent pigments arrived. I felt so unique and free in this outfit.
Do you have a piece of clothing that you keep buying in different guises?
Bodysuits and hoop earrings.
Whose look do you admire?
I’ve always admired the style my mum rocked growing up and I love my sister’s take on fashion. She has styled me for most of my shoots and gigs. However, I admire more vintage looks than individuals. I admire – and I’m inspired by – the tailored perfection of Katherine Hepburn, the street style of Slick Rick and the flamboyant suits of Al Capone. I admire the dramatic stage outfits of Erykah Badu and I quite like Zoe Kravitz for her style at the moment.
How does your personal style relate to notions of femininity?
I think as a woman my sense of feminity derives from my own inner strength and how I feel and move in my clothes. My style is ever-changing but I think a woman’s flavour comes from within and this energy highlights her femininity from a variety of perspectives.
Do you think social media creates pressure to look a certain way?
Yeah, for sure. Social media for me is like sweets in small doses, it’s great. I think the pressure comes from the huge saturation of fast fashion coupled by the constant deconstruction of our identities through image alone. Image is to be celebrated but it’s by no means our defining factor. Yes, young people need more variety in what’s being portrayed out there, but essentially it’s up to us to ground ourselves, educate and cultivate a more meaningful and holistic balance, to actively diminish an overbearing sense of pressure. As cultural theorist Foucault says, ‘knowledge is power’. So as long as we mix it up, by reading, stimulating our sense of culture, tastes and sounds and nurturing both the body and soul, social media and its pressure is a mere drop in the ocean.
Is your performance look different to your usual look?
Yeah, definitely. I think my performance look is much more exaggerated, depending obviously on what kind of a performance it is. It’s still true to my style but just bigger. I love experimenting with makeup to accentuate an outfit. You can have more fun on stage and at times it’s like getting ready for a fancy dress party because there are no rules!
Where do you buy your clothes?
I buy clothes from a mixture of places. I love vintage clothes, being petite they often fit better, especially the shoes. Second-hand shops and jumble sales are a good shout and I love markets too, you can often find some real gems there – I’m a fantastic hustling haggler! High street wise, I like Topshop, H&M, Primark and Zara. If something catches my eye I’ll go in anywhere to check it out, I’m not snobby when it comes to shops or brands. Although if I had the money, I’d treat myself to few vintage Chanel pieces and maybe I’d get a loud Pucci suit and one pair of Louboutin shoes.
What’s your favourite high street shop?
How can we challenge stereotypical notions of beauty?
By being as true to ourselves as possible and by celebrating each other’s differences. I think we all need to talk to each other more about our perceived inadequacies. Releasing some of our pains in public could empower us through relinquishing notions of a fixed perfection. Acknowledging that we all feel shit about how we look from time to time instead of holding it in, whilst reciting pseudo-feminist mantras in public can only be a good thing. The secrecy of our pain helps to breed jealousy instead of admiration and self-acceptance. None of us are perfect and we shouldn’t be aiming to be. Often stereotypes are based on dated projections that are not representative of our society. The problem is that it can thrive on our sense of fear and our insecurities. If we can all do more to empower ourselves spiritually, holistically and creatively, I like to think that these notions won’t resonate with us in the same way. A bit of self-love, in my opinion, can go a long way.
What is your go-to outfit?
My favourite pair of jeans, a body, an open loud shirt, a pair of trainers and some extremely large hoops
And finally, what’s your favourite restaurant?
This is hard as I have so many. In Paris, there’s a wonderful restaurant called Roger La Grenouille.
FDLL wears: necklace, Accessorize; watch, Dolce and Gabbana; hoops, Deptford Market; shoes, Beyond Retro; jumpsuit, jumble sale in Bristol; jacket, Rokit, belt, East End Thrift Store; rings, markets (Bristol and London) and gifts from Mexico and Thailand.
For more information on FDLL and to listen to her music, visit