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WINNER OF THE BEST LUXURY WOMENSWEAR BRAND ENTERPRISE AWARDS 2021
Gabby Logan is an acclaimed sports broadcaster, hosting live TV coverage of world class events including Olympic Games, Six Nations rugby, the World Cup, and Commonwealth Games, as well as domestic sporting events, including Sports Personality of the Year, matches and tournaments across a variety of disciplines for both the BBC and Amazon Prime TV. Starting her illustrious career on Sky Sports in 1992, Prince William recently presented Gabby with an MBE for Services to Sports Broadcasting and the Promotion of Women in Sport.
Now in its fourth series, Gabby hosts The Mid.Point, a podcast dedicated to discussions on the highs, lows, changes and other issues of midlife with high profile characters from all walks of life, while drawing on advice from nutritionists, sleep gurus, clinical specialists and other health and wellness experts. Guests have included singer Sharleen Spiteri, comedienne, author and mindfulness advocate Ruby Wax, comedian John Bishop, Liverpool FC Manager Jürgen Klopp, and TV presenters Davina McCall, Claudia Winkleman, Piers Morgan and Richard Osman.
A prolific and committed supporter of numerous charities and causes, Gabby is President of Muscular Dystrophy UK Charity (MDUK), Vice President of Sparks, and is also Chair of Leeds 2023, overseeing a year of cultural celebrations for her home city.
Born in Leeds, where her father Terry played professional football for Leeds FC (as well as representing Wales, and playing for and managing a number of other top-flight clubs), Gabby went on to compete as a Rhythmic Gymnast in the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland. She now lives with her husband Kenny, a former Scottish International rugby player and their teenage twins Reuben and Lois, in Buckinghamshire.
How would you describe your style?
Now I’ve reached my late forties, I feel happy that I have defined my style. I innately know what I like, what silhouettes suit me and am more confident dressing with a ‘less is more’ philosophy. Understanding that a particular shape isn’t right for me simplifies everything. I’ve learned that a knockout pair of tailored trousers or a fabulous dress that fits me perfectly is enough, so I don’t need to overthink other aspects of an outfit.
I love a striking cut with a defined shape, which works well on TV. When I’m presenting coverage outdoors, I’ll wear a tailored or belted coat, so I still have some structure to my outfit. And I love beautiful fabrics – the stretch silk shirts from Winser London don’t crease and feel really luxurious.
I have broad, square shoulders, so flouncy, fussy styles don’t suit me: I once succumbed to a ruffled Shanghai Tang boho skirt, but when I showed my stylist, Charlotte (Handley Green, who has worked with Gabby for 18 years), she looked at me and laughed and said “What were you thinking?”. We call that the Kate Moss skirt, because it just wasn’t a Gabby Logan piece. Whenever I’m tempted by something that’s not going to suit me, Charlotte just has to reference the Kate Moss skirt and I put it back.
How does your relationship work with Charlotte, your stylist?
We have become really good friends over the years, and she instinctively knows what will work for me, taking into account the practicalities of dressing for TV, like the fact I have to wear a microphone pack and an earpiece, and that certain fabrics strobe on camera.
Charlotte makes me focus on culling things in my wardrobe and giving them to friends or charity if they’re not right for me. Every six months we do a one-day shop then another day editing new purchases with my existing wardrobe, seeing what worked together for studio shows, outdoor sport and hosting events and speaking engagements etc. We plan different outfit combinations so I don’t have to experiment when I’m at the crack of dawn to get to work.
Each week I plan ahead, so I know what I’m wearing for everything in my diary, although I do have those days where my hormones are all over the place and nothing feels right. I have a great belted jumpsuit and a couple of trouser suits that I fall back on when dresses just feel wrong.
Do you steer towards particular colours when choosing your wardrobe?
Yes: bold, bright colours such as fuchsia pink, aubergine or azure blue, perhaps in blocks as contrasting separates. I love green, too, but I do quite a bit of “green screen” work on TV (images project onto them and make the presenter blend into the backdrop), so I wear them off duty instead. I’m equally happy in classic neutrals such as camel, grey or navy, especially for coats and suits, but I might add a pop of pink or red.
How do you accessorise?
I have multiple pairs of Gianvito Rossi suede heels in different colours, that I go back to time after time. I also have a pair of cut-out peep toe boots from them that I love. For outside broadcasts, I tend to wear chunkier heeled boots, as we might be on grass.
Excessive jewellery on TV can be distracting, so I tend to wear something simple, or perhaps just a statement necklace with a plain top or dress. I really want to get more ear piercings because do like earrings. I have thing for dress rings, too, and Kenny bought me a beautiful tennis bracelet for our 20th wedding anniversary, which is probably the most precious thing I have.
Do you believe in investment dressing?
I invest in garments I love and want to wear them for years. I have a good steamer at home and I take care to clean and hang things once they’ve been worn. I I have found a brilliant tailor near where I live, who will tidy up a lapel, fix a seam or alter a jacket slightly so pieces have longevity. Occasionally, if the moths have a munch on something, I’ll invest in invisible repair work, which isn’t cheap but it makes garments like new again. Eventually, things are relegated from the work wardrobe to the everyday or dog walking wardrobe.
Some of my clothes have been archived in the loft, and I know Lois, who’s 16, is rummaging, trying to dig out some designer gems including an amazing pink YSL suit, but I’ve told her hands off for the foreseeable future. She does borrow things from me though, and occasionally she’ll be going out and I’ll comment on how great she looks, then it takes me a while to realise she’s wearing something from the “Lois by Gabby” capsule wardrobe and giving it her own spin. She is currently wearing an old Donna Karan top of mine that I stopped wearing and gave to my mum initially, now Lois is loving it. She is really into early 2000s fashion.
You grew up in a sporty family, represented Wales as a gymnast in the Commonwealth Games, and married an international rugby player. Could you share your approach to fitness?
In recent years, like many women at this point in life, my body has changed slightly - for example, my waist wasn’t as defined. Once I realised I was perimenopausal, I looked at what was going to work for me. I used to think that a workout would only be worthwhile if I was covered in sweat, getting my heart rate to 185 and making my lungs feel like they were going to burst, but now I combine high intensity sessions with weights, Pilates and barre work, which I get so much out of. My cortisol levels are much healthier now, I think.
Kenny and I love walking the dogs in the countryside around our home and as a family, we all exercise regularly – Reuben is a rugby fanatic and Lois is an equestrian. I have been doing remote training and classes via Zoom during lockdown. When I’m staying in a hotel for work, I’ll do a workout in the room, but I do give myself some slack. In the summer, for example, I’m much more inclined to get up at six and do exercise, but on dark wintry mornings, I might sleep til eight if don’t have to be out early. Sometimes, going out with the dogs is enough, just to breath in the fresh air and walk in the woods and enjoy that.
It must be difficult to eat a balanced diet when you are working erratic hours, often on location at sports grounds. How do you ensure your body is nourished?
A few years back, I wore a glucose monitor for a while and I started to understand the sugar spikes and crashes my body was experiencing – even though I don’t have a particularly sweet tooth. It really made me learn to listen to my body and make the effort to manage how I eat – but I am not rigid and don’t deny myself, because I love my sourdough and a glass of wine.
For work, I plan ahead, so I’m not mainlining wine gums that the floor manager has bought from a vending machine. We don’t always have catering, so I make sure I have a good breakfast and take snacks and a salad or something with me. I don’t have a lot of routine in my life and I can end up doing very late nights and very early mornings, so I control the things that I can to stay healthy.
Congratulations on your MBE, which was awarded by Theresa May in her final list of nominees as Prime Minister. You’ve achieved numerous forms of peer and industry recognition and sporting medals and trophies over the years. What does this Honour mean to you?
When I first received the letter, I assumed it was in recognition of the charity work I’ve done, which would have been wonderful. I’ve always wanted to be actively involved when I take on a role as President of Sparks or Muscular Dystrophy UK, for example, or fundraise for Doddie Weir’s foundation to help research a cure for Motor Neurone disease. I’m not someone who is comfortable just lending my name and having a photo in a brochure.
To discover the MBE was for my broadcasting work and for promoting women in sport was a fabulous surprise, because I’m so passionate about that. Sport must reflect wider society: we are definitely seeing more girls and women participating and becoming involved in sport at all levels, but we have to make sure that there aren’t barriers to that. The more visible women are in different fields, the more uptake there is and the standard improves and it becomes something people take notice of. Men are watching women’s football, cricket or golf on TV, and young girls are seeing that normalised as something they can aspire to. Or hearing women commentating or hosting coverage of men’s sport. That is what is gratifying to me, and perhaps had I received an Honour in my 30s, I might not have been as appreciative of what it symbolises.
I feel very fortunate to be in a situation that even as I approach 50, I am professionally on the ascendant, which wouldn’t have been the case a few years back. It’s great there are more female role models of a certain age in the media, carving a path and keeping it real. I love Jo Whiley, for example: she is full of youthful energy, and she’s comfortable in her skin. I am the age I am and I’m proud of that and want to be authentic, with as much passion and energy as I can so I can continue doing the job I love. I am lucky to work with lots of young exciting people and that gives you stimulus. Working through perimenopause can sometimes feel an effort, but I never underestimate how lucky I am to do this as a job, so I try hard to live in the moment and be grateful.
You have attracted some great guests and had some interesting conversations on your podcast, The Mid.Point. How did that come about and what’s the thinking behind it?
It started out because I wanted to have more open conversations about the potential to do positive things in mid-life, whether that’s changing direction or simply remaining relevant and optimistic. It’s evolved to cover a range of diverse issues, and it’s been a great outlet for me as a personal project to contrast with my sports broadcasting. I’m loving that this is resonating with a wider female audience than perhaps other areas of my work, and it means a lot when people come up to me and say how much they enjoy the podcast and how they can relate to issues that come up.
I have found that sometimes, especially during the pandemic, speech radio can leave me anxiety-ridden, and podcasts provide a different audio experience. I listen to Josh Widdicombe and Rob Beckett’s Parenting Hell, Matthew Syed’s Sideways and the Desert Island Discs archive at home, in the car or on my walks.
Finally, you have an incredibly demanding work schedule, do lots of hands-on charity work, keep to a demanding exercise regime and you have teenage children. How do you relax?
I’m genuinely happier when I’m busy. I do enjoy those calming countryside walks, immersed in nature, and Kenny loves that watershed in the day when it hits 9pm and he puts his feet up with a box set. However, I am so middle-aged, I find sorting a cupboard therapeutic. There is something about organising a kitchen draw that gives me great pleasure. Is it weird that I admit that sorting stock cubes is very satisfying?