Nevertheless, the few nuggets she offers from her own life are tempting to borrow. Sykes has, for instance, installed a landline for her nearest and dearest to contact her on (“we do not need to be available to everyone, always,” she writes, with the reassuring force of a school matron), leaving her mobile on airplane mode for the most part. She has two papers delivered to her home to three times a week to counter the relentless noise of news websites.
In some ways, the book presents an antithesis to what some might perceive Sykes to be, although she is frequently swift to acknowledge her privilege as a white, cis, able-bodied, privately educated married mother-of-two living in London (who even calls herself “a posh girl” in How Do We Know We’re Doing It Right?). Sykes shot to prominence as the “Wardrobe Mistress” in The Sunday Times’ Style supplement and maintained a well-followed fashion blog, but tackles the responsibility consumer magazines hold in encouraging our relentless craving for new clothes. She has 312,000 Instagram followers, but admits she only checks the app once a week (although she is unabashed in examining her previous usage of it, and the impact she had as an influencer). For those who have found Sykes as a result of The High-Low (approx a million downloads per month), there is little on the much-discussed workings between her and co-host and good friend Dolly Alderton.
How Do We Know We’re Doing It Right? emerged, she says, from “having these things that I desperately wanted to dive into. I don’t have any experience in longform journalism, but I was finding that I was just not getting to even touch the sides of things that I was curious about in an hour-long podcast or in a 1,000-word piece.”
It was that same “need to scratch an itch” that led to Doing It Right, a new, eight-episode podcast that allowed Sykes to further explore the issues in the book with a range of experts. “A comedian, an activist, a philosopher, a historian, a psychotherapist, a broadcaster, a documentarian and a writer,” she rattles off. “They’re all successful, but that doesn’t mean they’ve got life figured out. They’ve offered new insights. The conversations have got more nuanced, and the subjects have been refreshed.”