Today’s interview is with the absolutely gorgeous Stina Auer, a fashion editor and mom currently living in Switzerland. Stina is definitely one of those women who pass you by on the street and you can’t help but admire how elegant and put together they look (not to mention gorgeous!). I was thrilled to have the opportunity to interview her and I hope you all enjoy meeting the fabulous Stina.
Who are you? What do you do, and where do you live?
My name is Stina Auer and I’m turning 33 years old soon. I live in Zürich with my son who is a year and four months old and my man who is from Switzerland/Geneva. I’m originally from Sweden, Stockholm to be specific and I have been living my life between Stockholm and Zürich during my pregnancy and my son’s first years until we finally decided it was too hard for all of us. Now I’m in both countries but mostly in Zürich.
I’ve been on mother’s leave for almost one and a half years now, my profession is in medical aesthetics and had a great career before our son came along. When he was about six months old, I started as a fashion editor for the internet magazine Fine Decor.se, as passion for style, fashion and quality have always been a big part of my life. Writing for the magazine gives me, as a stay at home mother for the moment, sources to be creative, intellectual and meet interesting and inspiring people. I do that sort of editorial work mainly in the evenings though, when Alexis is put to bed; any other time is simply impossible.
I know that right now you live in Zürich, Switzerland. What are your favorite unique things about living in Switzerland? How about some of your not-so-favorite things?
My favorite thing living here is by far to have our little family gathered. Before I came here, everyone always said that the “life quality” is very high in Switzerland. I didn’t really see it at that point in time because we have a high life quality in Sweden too, but I have to say that I’m starting to realise what they mean. Comparing it to Stockholm, which I obviously do all the time, Switzerland offers a milder climate which is of extreme importance to me. The city itself is very pretty and we also have the advantage to have our apartment in an amazing spot three minutes walk from the beautiful lake and nature and six minutes away from the main city spot, Paradeplatz. That makes an enormous difference to my wellbeing here. The nature is just mind blowing and the city pulse is quite vivid and it has that international feeling that I love which reminds me of cities like Rome, Milan, Paris or London. The shopping is so much better here than in Stockholm, but unfortunately very expensive. Zürich is ranked as one of the top five most expensive cities in the world to live in, and I can vouch for that.
It’s also very hard at times not to have my wonderful mother, father and sister and dear friends close to me. But when you have a small toddler as I do, I hardly have time to consider how much I miss them. Time really and literally flies and he is both my toughest job ever and my biggest love in life He’s my greatest source of joy and it feels like I’ve found the pure meaning of life.
We have the proximity to other cities like Como, Milan, Paris, Münich are all reachable in a few hours by car. That’s amazing for me and I tend to really take advantage of that closeness.
I don’t like that Switzerland, when compared to Sweden (which is extremely advanced when it comes to family life and mother and fatherhood) is so conservative in regards to mother’s leave and fathers have no rights whatsoever to be home with the kids if they want. In Sweden, modern fathers are allowed to take at least a couple of months of father’s leave and the mothers can, without being afraid of loosing their jobs, be home for one to two years if they want, with the equivalent of 80 percent of a yearly salary paid. Isn’t that great, both for families, children, parents and society itself? That’s also why you see so many stay-at-home mothers here in Zürich, as kinderkrippe or kindergarten are very expensive and having the possibility to work 60 percent is rare for women, so they need to be home instead, for the sake of their children and the family. I totally understand that. Then, later in life maybe, they come back to the working life when the children are older. That, and the fact that Zürich is very expensive and a little narrow and square, are the negative parts that I get most irritated about.
What makes Zürich fashion unique compared to other cities in Europe and around the world? Anything that you see a lot out and about on the street here that you don’t see in other cities?
Zürich is absolutely not an “fashion city”, by far not. In that sense, Stockholm is 100 times more fashionable. But Zürich has a timeless elegance, a very high end, classic style that I just love to get inspiration from. Here, men and women are often very well dressed (like in Milan) with well chosen materials, shades and colour combinations. The accessories are not flashy but expensive and stylish.
Stockholm is ultra-hip, everyone lives and breathes fashion and very often they all look the same. If there’s a trend that reaches Stockholm, you’ll see everyone adapting to that trend very quickly. It’s very fascinating, but also boring and it kills personality, which I find so important when it comes to fashion and style. Stockholm citizens are generally very good-looking, aware of themselves, hip and fashionable. Most people from abroad (men and women) get a little bit of a “wow” feeling the first time there. It’s very in your face and I myself can sometimes walk around and be impressed with all the good-looking women.
In Zürich I’ve also noticed the segregation between the very wealthy and the ordinary, and the way they dress is obviously impacted. I’ve never seen so many Birkins in my life as I have here. Same with Porsche, which are as common as BMWs in Stockholm. It’s quite particular, but I’ve got used to it by now.
In the bigger European cities, we also have a higher awareness of quality than in Stockholm. Large amounts of money are paid for the handicrafts, the exclusivity… etc, in Stockholm we haven’t really understood that too the same extent and people buy most of their wardrobes with a lot of cheaper things rather than with a more exclusive selection.
In places like Paris and Milan, they have that quality matching sense with a large dose of personality that reflects through the clothes and accessories. I really like that. Zürich is less personal, more settled and nobody really wants to stand out of the crowd.
You have a lovely closet. Can you share some of the most worn and used items in your wardrobe? What have been your staples?
Style and fashion has, as I mentioned earlier, always been a very, very big part of my life. But it’s not my life, my life is love, wellness, family and balance in the soul, mind and the everyday. But I love how it enhances the day. My mother was sure that it would decrease at the time I became a mother, but it’s too big of an interest of mine to vanish and die. It’s such a big part of me and I think that nothing can take it away. It’s a way of expressing myself, allowing my creativity to flow and I can’t leave home without having some sort of joy from my choice of dressing: my closet has therefore been collected through many years. I wanted my first designer bag when I was 14 years old and read international magazines like Vogue and Harper’s Bazar at the same age.
I collect some things very dearly, coats for example. My man goes bananas on me because it’s impossible to fit them all in a decent closet, but I believe a coat is just so amazing. As a mother, I often leave home in a stressful chaos with jeans and a t-shirt, but adding a stunning coat from MaxMara, Lanvin, Burberry, Christian Dior or Chanel makes up for it all and with a pair of nice ballets, mid heels from Roger Vivier or the perfect 8cm heel from Louboutin, no one would suspect that what your wear underneath; you just look impeccable anyhow. So coats are by far my staples… with the collection of bags and heels of course!
Can you share some of your absolute favorite items in your closet? The ones that make you happy whenever you use them?
Since I became a mother and moved big parts of my life to Zürich, I realised that I had far too big of a closet, with too many things. Things that just hung there and as I’ve grown older and matured in my own style, I just felt I needed to cleanse it. So everything I hadn’t used for more than six months, I gave away or sold. Now, my closet is half as big as it used, but what remains I have for a reason.
When I was younger, I loved colours, patterns…etc much more than I do now and I also bought things more frequently. I seldom buy things from stores like Zara or H&M now and actually tend to buy less colourful things. I like to just melt in more and I don’t feel the need to be seen as much anymore and appreciate to have a less outrageous outfit and instead have amazing quality in whatever I’m wearing; things that I know I look good in, that reflect who I’m and what I love. For me, less is really more nowadays but still I want it to be personal, fun and look and be effortless.
I have several things in my closet that literally make me more happy as a person. Almost all of my coats and furs for example, and some special unique or just wonderful bags like the white Chanel bag with black leather strips on it that I got in Palm Beach when I was five months pregnant as a gift to myself to compensate for all the vomiting and illness during my whole pregnancy. I was also married before and divorced that man with the tragic knowledge (at the time) that I couldn’t have children. So when I met my wonderful Swiss man and we got pregnant after just knowing each other for a couple of months … well, it was such a happiness for the fact that I was actually able to have children but also very hard when we didn’t even live in the same country.
Long story short, I bought that amazing limited edition Chanel bag as a memory of all of that. Another bag I really like that I bought when our son finally came was the Chanel Maxi flap bag with shorter arm straps than usual (the normal ones makes the bigger Chanel bags so clumsy I find) in black caviar. It’s by far the most expensive Chanel bag I’ve ever purchased, but it stands for the female strength and my love for life, motherhood and of course him, my adorable son. Then I have my black 35cm Birkin with gold hard wear that I just love so much and the Kelly 32cm in black Box Sellier, also in black with gold hard wear that I find so chic. I have about 25-30 really good bags now from brands like Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Hermès, Prada, Miu Miu, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, MaxMara, Fendi that I use everyday and like very much.
My shoe collection is another great thing that makes me happy. But honestly, I got rid of probably 30 pairs before coming to Zürich. Even there I just felt that I had too much and I feel liberated now when I have about 30 pairs of shoes (including boots, ballets and heels) that I really love and use.
Because I’m a mother, I also love a nice cashmere sweaters and cardigans with a simple pair of slim jeans to wear as an everyday outfit. It needs to look good and feel nice but yet must be practical.
What are some wardrobe mistakes that you’ve made in the past that you would correct if you could?
Oh My! I’ve done many. When I was younger, I bought too much of everything, that’s one thing. I’ve learnt along the way: you don’t need twenty of everything, just a couple is enough. Then I was more like Carrie in Sex In the City and had a need to express myself with crazy colours and weird combinations much more. It was like art for me where I wanted to express creativity, boldness and the way I appreciated style at that moment. You know, a Dior saddlebag in pink with a turquoise tutu skirt and purple Alaia boots. Jesus. I’ve changed a lot since that time but I still love the fact that I have some serious crazy fashion memories to look back to.
But the great thing is that I started quite early to look for really nice designer things, the effortless style and classical pieces and many of them I still have and they are turn-around-garments. I know for a fact that as an example I will wear one of my stunning Burberry coats in this funky but yet stylish blanket style with fringes hanging from it; I’m sure someone will give me a compliment for it, you just can’t resist, it so perfect in the look! And I bought that in the Burberry store maybe seven years ago!
Personal awareness, chic and fun elegance and good fabrics is what I aim for now. I wear classic items with a fun twist and combine them so I feel like I look good without feeling too dressed up. I don’t take myself and style that seriously any longer, because I don’t need to. I have it in me so strong that it follows every step I take without even needing to try.
When you are blond with how I look, I prefer to be more dressed down than super dressed up actually. Here in Zürich especially, people stare at me very much already for some reason I don’t really know so I don’t need some crazy purple fur to get more attention.
What are some of the best pieces of advice you’ve ever received about style/building the perfect closet?
a) Know your body, what you look good in, what’s flattering for you and find out what you feel most comfortable in and what colours… etc fit you. I know for example that if I wear a tight little skirt with a tight top, I feel like Barbie and that’s not a good thing. I often choose a looser fitted top or skirt instead of both. I also know that I feel too dressed up, like a Christmas tree with too many accessories. My make up is therefore very subtle with only mascara, some lipstick and rouge and for evenings I just add some eye shadow if anything. For jewelry, I only wear my Cartier or Rolex watch with one ring and sometimes a bracelet. Everything else is too much for me. I never wear earrings because they make me feel old and just wrong, like I’m trying too hard. A good statement necklace I can feel joy in wearing though, but then the rest of the outfit needs to be settled.
b) Know what brands you like and really find out what you feel is YOU. Clothes should make you grow when you wear them and should enhance your personality and your charisma. Go for quality in classic colours and add some small touches of colour. Take really good care of the things you own and they will really last for a lifetime.
c) Also learn how to match things. Getting the colours, accessories and materials assorted for a look takes time and a lot of knowledge. Look at women or men you find can handle that gift and copy it in your own way. Don’t be afraid to go your own way when it comes to style and fashion and for God’s sake, don’t do like everyone else just because that’s what surrounds you.
d) I try to live by the one-in-one-out rule now. I’m more aware of what I have when doing that, of what I need and what I don’t use. It’s much more efficient and intelligent.
How do you budget for your wardrobe purchases? Anything you splurge on versus scrimp?
How do I budget…? Hmm, well I have a weakness: if I realise that I really want something, I won’t feel good and relaxed before I have it in my closet. So mostly, when I see something that I just want, it’s generally mine in a week or so. I’ve ordered things from stores all around the world and found what I want in the most particular ways sometimes. I have it from my father and it’s totally something I need to learn how to control. But I look at my father and he still has that problem, so my hopes for myself are not very high…
If I want something extremely expensive, say like a Hermès Birkin, Kelly or some Chanel bag, I do think it through for a long time and need to check my finances before I can even start thinking about getting one. It’s actually the same with more or less all my purchases. I consider them carefully and try to be smart and very often now-a-days, I force myself to get rid of something I already have in my closet to really evaluate how much I want whatever it may be. I would never buy anything though which I can’t afford and I would never go over my limits. But the funny thing is that I’m more satisfied in life with less now than before. A few years back, I probably would have said that I would like Birkins in 15 different colours and materials, but now I know that I don’t need that many. 3-4 in good colours and materials is perfectly enough to collect throughout the years. Maybe one new for every new child or big achievement or something like that… (he, he, he …)
Coats, shoes, bags and dresses I tend to spend a lot on but jeans I buy quite cheap. Most of my skinny jeans come from Zara and basic wool and cashmere tops I buy from Ralph Lauren, Soft Goat, TSE. T-shirts often comes from Cos and shirts from Equipment or Prada, Miu Miu or just something I like.
What are some of your passions and hobbies?
My passion is of course my little family, but apart from that I take photography very seriously and have had the honour of having a photo exhibition last year. I also LOVE to travel and would like to do that as much as possible. Having said that, we can’t really travel like we used to with a little one, but we still try. Beauty in all forms is a passion of mine and I get happier being surrounded by wonderful art, architectural, style, dynamic people and stunning nature. Luxury goods have always interested me and I guess it’s a passion of mine. If I could and had the time for it, I would take up horse riding again.
I love to enjoy people with dynamic dinners, fun parties and get togethers of all kinds, but still appreciate being at home and just snuggling up in jogging pants in front of a film.
Finally – please share something surprising about yourself!
I dream of a stunning neoclassical house with a sea view and palm trees outside the door – and I would love to have a girl next time we get pregnant, but I’m sure I’ll get another adorable little boy.
Stina has just the most beautiful little family. I loved seeing all her photos with sweet Alexis, and she’s clearly a woman who has found her individual style and is wholly comfortable with who she is. Thank you Stina for sharing some of your fascinating life with us today! For more of Stina, please check out her site, here.