Interview

Interview with Irene

This week’s interview is the lovely Irene – a fellow Hermes fan who I’ve always admired due to her sleek style and practical approach to her wardrobe. Irene has a very cool style and was a pleasure to interview – I know you’ll all enjoy meeting her. Here’s Irene!

Irene’s lovely bag collection

Who are you? What do you do, and where do you live?

Hi, I’m Irene. I am from Toronto, Canada. I don’t have an official occupation, per se – but I love all things to do with decorating, be it homes, people, whatever!

Beloved Lagerfeld clutch

Can you describe a little bit about your style? What are some of the most worn items in your wardrobe? What about most treasured ones?

If I had to describe my style, I would that it was dressy/casual most of the time. I practically live in jeans but I try to dress them up as much as I can with blazers, heels, accessories, etc. I spend tons of time at hockey rinks and on the road with my son so I try to keep it casual but not sloppy.

In the last few years I have managed to build myself a wardrobe that literally takes my breath away! You know when people ask “whose closet would you raid?”, I can honestly say,“MY OWN!”. If I had to describe what dominates the contents of my closet, it would be denim, leather, hats and LOTS of coats! Some of the most worn items in my closet are my Balenciaga leather jackets. One of my most treasured pieces is the Lagerfeld clutch that belonged to my late mother (who was my ultimate style icon).

Irene and her Balenciaga leather jackets

What are some of your favorite brands? Anything that you collect?

Currently, I am completely obsessed with Balenciaga ready to wear from older seasons (2006, 2007 & 2008 especially). I am fortunate enough to have luck on my side when hunting for these “treasures” – I was able to locate so many wonderful pieces in new or nearly new condition at consignment shops around the world and eBay.

Some of my favourite brands right now are Balenciaga (for clothing and shoes), Burberry Prorsum (for outerwear and shoes), Alaia (for shoes) & DSquared (for outerwear), among others.

Irene’s most used bags

Do you tend to shop more for clothing or accessories (like bags)?

I think I’ve become more interested in clothing vs bags in the last year or so. I’ve sold many wonderful bags I purchased earlier, because I simply don’t wear them enough. My philosophy when it comes to high ticket items always was/is “cost per wear”. I don’t care for owning things for the sake of owning them. I like to use them. I am now down to my one and only Hermes bag – my favourite and forever classic black 35cm Togo Birkin with gold hardware. I try and stick to classics that can be worn daily but I try to go for classics with a twist – my Chanel flap had to be from the reissue line because I feel like it’s more “urban” looking vs. the classic Chanel line, and my Louis Vuitton Speedy is from an original Sprouse graffiti release (circa 2001) because the classic mono is not really “me”. I find that “style” is a reflection of one’s personality that’s why I appreciate when people put their own spin on things.

What are some brands/items that you were really into a while back…that now looking back, you wish you hadn’t purchased?

I can’t really say I regret buying something in the past because I feel that through these trials and errors, I’ve arrived to where I am today style-wise so, really, I don’t have any regrets in that aspect.

What % of items do you buy full price, vs on sale?

Looking back and knowing what I know now, I think my only regret is buying things and paying retail price for them. I don’t think I’ve shopped in major department store in a loooong time. There are so many other resources, especially when it comes to designer merchandise, you just have to know what you are looking for. I would say 99% of my stuff lately was purchased below retail. I am happy to pay above retail though, (and then some) if it’s an item I covet to the point that I start dreaming about it.

Catherine Deneuve

Shala Monroque

I know you have some specific style icons that you admire. Can you share some of your favorite inspirations?

I remember playing dress up ever since I can remember. What girl hasn’t gone through their mother’s closet and tried on her things?? I also remember when I was about 11 or 12, the  TV movie “LACE” came out and the clothes in that movie just blew me away! I think it was that movie that made me fall in love with hats! I remember begging my mother to get me a VHS copy of it and I watched it over and over completely fascinated by everything (scenery, clothes, etc.). It was recently re-released on DVD and I immediately purchased it for myself so I can enjoy it for many more years to come!

Giovanna Battaglia

Carolyn Bessette Kennedy

Some of my favourite style icons from the past are Catherine Deneuve & late Jackie Onassis. I think both women represent everything a modern woman should be – confident, smart and beautiful in their own way!

Some of my recent style influences are people like late Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, Shala Monroque, Emmanuelle Alt, Giovanna Battaglia just to name a few. I really love Elle MacPherson’s casual style as well.

Irene in her Burberry Prosum shearling jacket

Dior shearling booties

What are some lessons on style/budgeting/fashion that you’ve had to learn the hard way over the years that you can share?

When it comes to shopping, I think the most common mistake is buying stuff because it’s “cheap” or “on sale”. Chances are, you will never wear it and that $10, $20 or whatever amount could have gone towards something worth purchasing. I think if you can avoid buying that “cheap” item and put the money you were going to spend on it away, you’d be surprised at how fast you can accumulate a substantial amount that you can spend on something you will really love and wear for a long time.

How about the best overall life advice you’ve ever received?

The best life advice I’ve received (or one of them anyways) is to never judge a book by it’s cover.

Chanel reissue, Louis Vuitton jacket

I know that you love to style family and friends! What are some common mistakes that you feel people make with their style, that they don’t realize until a 3rd party tells them to?

As I said earlier, I love to style people. Be it friends, neighbours, family or just some random lady in the change room next to me! I find that the biggest mistake people make when getting dressed is they don’t dress right for their body type. You can appear 10 lbs slimmer (at least!) if you dress for your figure and maximize your assets. I also find that a little alteration can go a long way.

One fabulous tip I picked up from a friend is to alter men’s dress shirts in order to get a great fit. All of my husbands dress shirts and my son’s uniform pieces go straight for the tailor the minute we buy them. You have no idea the difference it makes!

Another look from Irene

What are some of your other passions and hobbies?

Other than hunting for deals and reading fashion blogs, my other passions include watching foreign movies and reading anything to do with history.

Finally…please share something surprising about yourself!

In high school I took shop as part of an extra credit so I can change oil, give my car a tune up, change a tire, etc. without blinking an eye! LOL!

 

I love that Irene is someone who seems to use all of her items, and regularly culls out things that aren’t being used. I love collecting beautiful items but I have to be very careful with my budget to only purchase items that I’ll adore and use. I also loved all the photographs Irene chose as her style influences as they are all gorgeous and indeed – inspirational. Thank you Irene for sharing some of your beautiful style and thoughts with us!

 

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  • Sammy
    July 11, 2012 at 7:13 am

    Great interview, I really like the fact that she uses her items, she has key items which she gets value for money out of. I agree with a lot of her points and love her style!! I have a few of the same items which is fab!Lol!

  • Tabitha
    July 11, 2012 at 7:13 am

    I can definitely see an Elle Macpherson vibe here in Irene’s style.
    I can’t even put petrol in my car – yes I am ashamed of that – so I’m awe!

  • foodfashionandflow
    July 11, 2012 at 7:59 am

    What a great interview and great tips. Wow Irene and I love all of the same icons.

  • Inés
    July 11, 2012 at 8:38 am

    Oh my. I love shearling. While I think Ugg boots are, well, ugg-ly, I still have some beause they’re all cushy and squishy. That jacket would be like, wearing a squishy, warm, cushy ugg boot except not as ugly. Makes me feel like a (fashionable) pilot!

    I agree with the comment that you should do classics with your own spin on it. Your “classics,” the pieces that get worn the most, will be different from what is dictated by magazines and fashion people. For example, if you don’t work in a place where people wear suits, a black suit is probably not a “classic” item for you – you could probably do your own, softer, less structured take with a shawl collar sweater (or a casual boyfriend/schoolboy blazer) and a funkier skirt or sleek cigarette pants, and forgo the blazer/pencil skirt/classic trouser silhouette.

    • Katherine
      July 11, 2012 at 9:54 am

      I love shearling too. It’s so warm and comfy, even though I live in California. I totally agree with what you and Irene wrote about classics, very true 🙂

  • adele
    July 11, 2012 at 9:00 am

    I agree with Irene that you should definitely buy stuff & use it to the max! Another great interview Katherine.
    Happy Wednesday Hun xoxo
    http://www.intotheblonde.com/

  • Kathy
    July 11, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Such a great interview! Coincidentally, while going through my closet over the past weekend, I decided it’s time to sell my bags that I’ve been keeping in the dust bags and the boxes, stashed up in my closet. I’ve never sold any items before, so if you have any tips and advice for me how to do so, I’d greatly appreciate it! I started to say to myself, maybe just keep it even though I know I rarely used the item (a bit of a hoarder, can’t let things go too easily lol) but after reading this post, I think it’s time. Thanks for posting great interviews all the time! –Kathy

    • Katherine
      July 11, 2012 at 9:53 am

      Hi Kathy – I would do eBay if you can deal with the shipping/posting/etc (and the occasional scammer, sadly). Otherwise, have you tried Yoogis Closet? You get less than if you’d sell it on eBay but much less hassle, etc.

  • Helen
    July 11, 2012 at 10:34 am

    LOL, she took shop to learn stuff about cars! That’s awesome. I wish I had shop in high school. I could save myself a bundle right now.

    I really like her dressy casual style. It’s what I strive for. And it’s cool to know that she would want to shop her own closet.

  • Jessy
    July 11, 2012 at 11:53 am

    Yay for a fellow Torontonian!! Great interview! I really enjoyed reading her answers to your questions.. and what a great collection of handbags!

    • Katherine
      July 11, 2012 at 4:17 pm

      Ah, I love Toronto! So glad you liked the interview 🙂

  • chocolatecookiesandcandies
    July 11, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    I wish I was smart enough to take a lesson in maintaining a car. I would’ve saved tons! And saved myself from a lot of headaches when dealing with mechanics. I love her sensible and pragmatic sartorial approach. I rarely pay retail too unless I absolutely covet the item and will wear it to bits.

  • Annabelle
    July 11, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    Man, I am so jealous of her jacket collection…

  • kiwifashionblog
    July 11, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    You do the best interviews, I always enjoy reading every single one of them 🙂 Keep up the good work!

    • Katherine
      July 12, 2012 at 9:40 am

      Aww thank you !

  • Prêt à Porter P
    July 11, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    Love that look with the ruffled blouse and blazer.

  • Tiffany
    July 12, 2012 at 1:36 am

    Nice interview!
    wow I love the Burberry jacket & Dior boots!!

  • hera
    July 12, 2012 at 5:15 am

    Interesting style, and yesss I am so agreed with not buying things at retail..lol still sad 🙁

  • latkesanddimsum
    July 12, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    I just love that picture of the Birkin bag stuffed with other bags!