Smart Casual: What I've learned from co-hosting two fashion podcasts

From the wonderfully positive relationship I have with my wardrobe to the less clear-cut relationship I have with my body, I've discussed a lot more than simply shopping with my Smart Casual co-hosts over the past month. In the first two episodes of IMAGE's new fashion podcast - both of which are available to download now - we've covered a lot of surprising content.

It's amazing how, when three women sit down to talk all things fashion, the conversation winds up with confessions of self-loathing, stories of confidences being crushed and tales of self-acceptance. That's because fashion is such an integral tool in discovering who we are and forming who we'd like to be. I always become frustrated when individuals dismiss fashion as "fluffy". It's not. It's fun, certainly, and it should be, but it's also crucial in understanding how others perceive and receive us.

On the current episode of Smart Casual, we looked at the topic of diversity in fashion and how the lack of it, or otherwise, has influenced us. As a white woman with a size 8 figure, I've always been reflected in fashion campaigns and editorials. But my niece, who is a beautiful, gay, 22-year-old NCAD student told me she never sees a woman in fashion who looks like her, i.e someone with a boyish crop, tattoos and piercings.

She's right, and that made me feel quite sad. It also left me wondering how many other women still feel alienated by the industry I work in. It has come a long way for sure; models are no longer written off before they hit 30. In my eyes, the older the better in fact. I'm 44 and I want to see fifty- sixty- and seventy-odd-year-old women who I can admire in all of the media I consume. They're appearing more and more on catwalks and in magazines, and they certainly dominate my Instragram feed. Every woman, regardless of age, size, ethnicity and sexuality needs idols and mentors, women they can identify with and look up to. And they need these women to be visible.

Recording this episode of Smart Casual made me feel especially proud of the October issue of IMAGE Magazine. The cover is graced by a beautiful mature model, complete with laughter and frown lines, while the reaction we received to our stunning June cover featuring Irish Sudanese model Appiok was wonderful.

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The October issue of IMAGE Magazine, on sale now

There's a huge appetite for change and it's being driven by consumers. The industry is evolving and we'll talk more about this on future episodes of Smart Casual, but more than that we'll deliver you regular doses of shopping tips, styling advice and best buys peppered with lots of laughs and some great guests. Welcome to Smart Casual.

Smart Casual is brought to you in partnership with Kildare Village, Ireland's premier luxury shopping destination. To be in with a chance to win a €300 voucher for Kildare Village and a styling session with IMAGE's fashion director Marie Kelly, all you need to do is simply rate, review and subscribe to IMAGE's fashion podcast,  Smart Casual. 

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