How do I look?: Paul Bernstock, milliner, 51

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Indy Lifestyle Online

My earliest memories are of being dragged around Biba by my older sister. She was a bit of a spoiled princess and wouldn't go out on a Saturday night without a brand-new outfit, including new shoes and handbag. Every weekend, I'd be carted around town with her. Surprisingly, it didn't put me off clothes for ever, rather it sparked a lifelong interest in fashion.

From the age of 13, I would buy Vogue magazine religiously. It all sounds terribly queenie in hindsight: I'd go through each issue and pick out all the things I liked. In my teens I got particularly into the bon chic, bon genre French preppy movement; from then on it was all about navy gabardine trousers. I still wear more casual versions of what I wore back then.

I got my first weekend job in my early teens, in the East End. It was at the Houndsditch Warehouse department store in east London, near where I lived – back then it was a bit of a Jewish ghetto. I'd spend all day carrying fridges and helping people load things in their cars, and then spend all the money on clothes. In my spare time, I'd be at the flea market on Brick Lane, which was one of the few places you could buy the non-synthetic stuff I liked, like linen shirts.

I started going to Vidal Sassoon at the age of 12. When I had hair it was blondish, slightly short on top and longer on the sides; every morning I'd blow-dry it before school. I started losing my hair when I was 18. I'd been on a kibbutz in Israel; my hair baked in the sun, went white and never recovered. I started cutting it very short, and ended up shaving it all off in my early twenties. There was no pointing attempting a deceptive comb-over; it was very obviously thinning.

I'm only 5ft 8ins so I appreciate a well-proportioned design. This shirt was £8 at a vintage shop. I tend to wear subdued colours so I like the freshness of a flash of white vest underneath. The trousers are by a German designer called Drycorn and were a recent purchase from Berlin; the Hermès belt I bought 10 years ago in a King's Road charity shop where old Chelsea gents donate their clothes. It's one of those special places where you can find hidden gems.

Bernstock Speirs are showing the results of their collaboration with Peter Jensen at their store at 234 Brick Lane, London E2. See for details