YEARS of riding side-saddle, hurling herself down stairs and ‘playing dead’ under a chieftain tank as a stuntwoman have taught Roberta ‘Bertie’ Gibbs a thing or two about dressing for the occasion.

It has been 35 years since she hung up her boots to launch her designer boutique Bertie Golightly and yet beneath the alluring couture gowns and chic vintage pant suits, she remains that daredevil hankering after comfort.

“You have got to be comfortable and think about what you’re wearing it for,” insists Bertie, who after setting up her first store in Bradford on Avon in 1981 and a ten-year spell dressing exclusive guest in Knightsbridge settled in Marlborough 10 years ago.

But this is no license to laze about in tracksuits and woefully battered trainers. She cannot abide sloppiness.

“It does horrify me the way people don’t make an effort,” she booms. “It’s shame that nobody gets out of a pair of jeans. Dressing smart is easy peasy. You don’t have to wear a ball gown, it could be a cocktail dress or a smart day dress, which you can dress up in the evening with jewellery. Or a nice pair of tailored pants with a cashmere sweater, or a top with embellishment. Dressing smart can be as easy – and as comfortable- as that.

Like many ventures, the business was born out of necessity. Unable to take any more stunt work after a suitcase-lifting incident left her with a hairline fracture in both ankles, she began selling her own clothes. Before long she was collecting her friends’ garments to meet growing demand from customers and ordering in new designs - Bertie Golightly was born.

The boutique’s range of fresh-off-the-catwalk designer styles and pre-owned pieces by top fashion labels like Valentino, Chanel, Prada and Mui Mui soon won an international clientele.

This year alone, some of her most sough-after gowns have made their way to the Emmys.

Whether catering to the sartorial needs of the glitterati, dressing a host of exclusive clients for Royal Ascot or lending her expertise to discerning local shoppers, the student of Chanel abides by one simple rule.

“Less is better,” she explains. “Chanel said ‘Look in the mirror when you’re going out and take one thing off.’ Don’t be flashy, be elegant.”Read more at:evening wear |