Ouai x Byredo is back with more scented haircare
Ouai x Byredo is back with more scented haircare

Holly O'Neill

This recently renovated Ranelagh home is on the market for €1.25 million
This recently renovated Ranelagh home is on the market for €1.25 million

Megan Burns

Considering getting hitched at home? Two couples on their at-home weddings
Considering getting hitched at home? Two couples on their at-home weddings

Lizzie Gore-Grimes

With soon-to-be-three salons, a beauty brand and a little one at home, Kate Verling of Mink Hand and Foot Spa on mastering multitasking
With soon-to-be-three salons, a beauty brand and a little one at home, Kate Verling of...

Lauren Heskin

Organising a hen party? These are the 18 essential dos and don’ts for bridesmaids
Organising a hen party? These are the 18 essential dos and don’ts for bridesmaids

Geraldine Carton

Travelling with kids: what you need to know before going away this summer
Travelling with kids: what you need to know before going away this summer

Sarah Finnan

Try this crispy elderflower cocktail this bank holiday weekend
Try this crispy elderflower cocktail this bank holiday weekend

Holly O'Neill

What to do when your boss is a bully
What to do when your boss is a bully

Colette Sexton

Filming has begun on the TV adaptation of Graham Norton’s debut novel down in West Cork
Filming has begun on the TV adaptation of Graham Norton’s debut novel down in West...

Sarah Finnan

8 engrossing Netflix picks worth starting this long weekend
8 engrossing Netflix picks worth starting this long weekend

Jennifer McShane

Image / Fashion

It may be SS19’s biggest trend, but I’ll always be sold on utility chic


by Marie Kelly
21st Mar 2019
blank

In the early noughties, I religiously watched a TV show called She’s Gotta Have It. Each week, presenter Jayne Middlemiss tasked three women with shopping the latest fashion trend, each with a different budget: €50, €200 and €500. Although I’m pretty sure I watched every single episode of all four seasons, the only show I still remember vividly was the one that tackled utility chic.

These days, in the permanently switched on and tuned in media culture of ours, the lexicon of fashion is commonplace, but this was the first time I had heard the phrase utility chic, and it immediately caught my imagination. In fashion terms, it was the perfect example of how opposites attract, how the useful and serviceable can marry seamlessly with the merely ornamental. These five short syllables summed up exactly how I wanted to dress and precisely what clothes should offer – form and function. Like most women, I want to move and live in the clothes I wear, but I want to look good while doing it. The very best fashion embraces this desire. Like Katharine Hepburn said, “When a man says he likes a woman in a skirt, I tell him to try one.”

RELATED Five beautifully styled outfits that offer perfect inspiration for April

In Ireland, when the sun finally deigns to show its longed-for face, women tend to sideline practicality completely in favour of prettiness. It’s understandable given that we spend most of the year in utilitarian wear. But it’s a little ironic given that there is far less sitting around in summer and much more ‘doing’, which requires clothes that offer more than just aesthetics. But that semi-sheer maxi dress you bought last season may never get another airing if you don’t pull it out of the back of your wardrobe on the first day the sun smiles down on us, while those embellished flats you’ve only worn once on holiday desperately need several more outings if you’re ever to justify the cost per wear. Never mind that you’re heading up Killiney Hill rather than sipping prosecco in your best friend’s pergola. Looking stylish is always about dressing both for the weather and the occasion. Not one or the other.

RELATED Five perfect dresses for understated dressers

As women we move, we run, we travel, we experience, and we need clothes that allow us to do all this. Christian Louboutin is often quoted as saying, “I would hate for someone to look at my shoes and say, ‘Oh my God! That looks so comfortable!'”. A quippish remark, yes, but clever? No. If only Hepburn were alive to have a word with him. If like me, you want a seasonal wardrobe that married beauty and utility, try one of these gorgeous pieces.

Cotton twill skirt, €15 (was €49) at arket.com

Organic cotton workwear jacket, €69 at & Other Stories

Cropped palazzo trousers, €29.95 at Zara

Sleeveless wrap dress with belt, €63 (was €125) at Cos

RELATED How dressing for your forties has changed

RELATED Why don’t more women wear capes?

 

 

Also Read

blank
FASHION
Meet the young, cool creative reimagining traditional Irish knitwear

Emerging knitwear designer Pearl Reddington is one of the cool creatives redefining traditional Irish crafts. I come from a family...

By Marie Kelly

blank
FASHION, SHOPPING
The 6 trending sandal styles of summer to shop now

Dad sandals, trek sandals, thong sandals and more – meet the trending sandals of summer to shop now. Soon, there...

By Holly O'Neill

H&M x Toga
FASHION, SHOPPING
Everything to know about the H&M x Toga Archives collaboration

Toga is the latest to join the H&M roster of designer collaborations.Fresh off the back of the Brock collection collaboration,...

By Holly O'Neill

Hunza G
FASHION, SHOPPING
Hunza G, the celebrity-favourite swimwear, has landed in Ireland

Hunza G, the one-size-fits-all crinkled sustainable swimwear beloved by Hailey Bieber, Kim Kardashian, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and more has landed in Brown Thomas.

By Holly O'Neill

blank
REAL-LIFE STORIES, FASHION, OFF THE CUFF
“When I used to dream of transitioning, I thought I’d wear short skirts and high heels”

Sometimes choosing an outfit is simply about getting dressed, but other times it’s about so much more. Sophie White talks...

By Sophie White

shopping
FASHION, SUSTAINABLE STYLE
I went a whole year without shopping and it was a complete eye-opener

A year of no clothes shopping sounded so completely insurmountable to Sophie White that initially, all she had planned to...

By Sophie White

blank
FASHION
Jimmy Choo launches a collection designed by fan sketches

It started as a lockdown Instagram competition and resulted in a one-of-a-kind Jimmy Choo shoe collection. Jimmy Choo has released...

By Louise Slyth