Real women: brand consultant Sive O'Brien on finding her unique personal style

Sive is the former fashion editor of IMAGE Magazine and is now a lifestyle brand consultant. Here, she talks to MARIE KELLY about her personal style, the brands she loves and her style inspirations.

I’VE WORKED IN FASHION FOR MOST OF MY CAREER and I can hand-on-heart confess that for most of that time, I was a slave to it. These days, I’m a busy mum and much more comfortable in my own skin, and more realistic about my body shape and what suits me. My style adapts to my life now, taking me from school runs to home office or client meetings.

CELEBRITY STYLE DOESN’T INTEREST ME. It’s easy to look the part when you have a stylist to hand. The real tastemakers are those who aren’t afraid to own their own style. I love Marta Cygan of Life of Boheme. Her personal style and taste in interiors go hand in hand. Morgan Hutchinson of clothing brand Buru is my mum-style inspiration. I’m also obsessed with Advanced Style on Instagram. If you want to see women own their looks, it’s there.

MY MOTHER AND I HAVE ALWAYS HAD A SHARED PASSION FOR CLOTHES AND TEXTILES. She worked as a buyer for a high-end department store before she had to give up work in the 1960s to have children, so I guess fashion is in my genes. Now that I work closely with fashion brands, I can appreciate how a well-designed piece of clothing can make you feel.

MY WARDROBE IS TWO-SIDED: one half is packed full of black trousers, simple knits and basic separates. Then there’s the after-hours side with metallics, faux fur scarves and leather.

MY STYLE IS RELAXED, ALWAYS – no matter how dressy the occasion. For me, comfort and feeling good are key to what I wear. I go for a pared-back aesthetic; I guess it’s Scandinavian-inspired by day and more French-inspired by night.

OCCASION DRESSING IS MUCH LESS FORMAL THESE DAYS. The lines have been blurred between day and night dressing – daywear can be sexy and nightime attire much more relaxed.

SUPPORTING IRISH DESIGN IS SO IMPORTANT. I can’t resist a Helen Steele print, which is why I chose this piece today. I love that this dress pulls double duty – a shirtdress worn with boots and a belt, or over jeans with heels.

MY GO-TO HIGH STREET BRANDS ARE & Other Stories, Cos and Arket. I’ll team something from one of these stores with a Lucy Nagle cotton T-shirt and cashmere sweater for everyday. I’m a big online shopper too. I love Farfetch for under-the-radar brands and Yoox for big-label bargains. For something a little dressier, Danish brand Ganni is great, and I have some timeless pieces from By Malene Birger. I recently discovered Reuben Avenue for beautifully crafted work-from-home clothes that get me out of my yoga pants! If money were no object, I’d buy The Row and Stella McCartney.

Sive wears printed shirtdress, Helen Steele, €765; black jeans, Donna Ida, €195; metallic blue shoes, Rupert Sanderson, €550; all at Costume.

Photographed by Doreen Kilfeather at No 31 Leeson Close, Make-up by Aisling Kelly using Mac cosmetics ( Hair courtesy of Brown Sugar.


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