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Style interview: Flying high with British Airways chief Robert Williams


British Airlines
Fashion: Robert Williams of British Airlines on style

Robert Williams
British Airways Regional General Manager Southeast Asia

How would you describe your style?

British with a continental European twist. I’m very aware of my British roots and think that we have some of the best style there is. However, I’ve also lived in Paris and Amsterdam so I like to incorporate some of their influences.

Has that style evolved naturally, or have you been through some “interesting” phases?

Naturally. I am, however, up for trying new things. I find that over time you learn what looks good on you and what works for your shape. I like to think I was a pioneer for skinny jeans when they became fashionable and thankfully seem to be able to get away with wearing them well. I’m in that mid-thirties stage now though, so I have to think more about what’s age appropriate!

What’s your favourite item of clothing?

A smart navy blazer and a silk scarf from Ted Baker. I’m also a big fan of waistcoats – they can be very forgiving!

Working for British Airways, I travel a lot and I’m someone who still believes that it’s good to make an effort to dress well when travelling. It’s really the time you need to combine comfort and style. A good pair of chinos and a blazer are a must and you can combine these with a crisp white shirt or a t-shirt and scarf. Slip-on shoes are also a must for me as it saves time at security. When on board, I put on a quality pair of jogging bottoms with a light hoodie and some cashmere socks to settle in and enjoy the flight.

When did you first become interested in looking good?

I always have been. If we’re telling the whole truth, I produced a charity fashion show in school when I was 11!

What has been your biggest fashion mistake?

Cherry red Dr Martens – but that was a long time ago. I also bought cowboy boots on a holiday to Tennessee, but over there they fitted right in!

Any timeless classics that you’ve been wearing for years and years?

A couple of good waistcoats. I also have a couple of Abercrombie shirts that I’ve had for a long time. They just last forever and always look good.

What style of suit do you prefer?

Definitely a three-piece, even in Singapore. I think that when you ditch the jacket and still have the waistcoat on, you look so much smarter and tend to stand out.

What styles or colours can help you look slim?

Dark colours and slim-fit clothes. I have a navy suit (three-piece, of course) that has a slim but not too skinny fit and really just works.

What’s your number one fashion tip for EX readers?

Understand what shape you are and then be adventurous within the parameters of what suits that shape. Also don’t be afraid to stand out just a little, even if it’s just a really snazzy pair of Paul Smith socks with your plain work suit. And if you’re going to wear flip-flops or sandals, take good care of your feet as people notice this.