Mixing the old with the new is everyday work for Mairéad Carlin, but her sleek and tailored wardrobe is timeless
Celtic Woman songstress Mairéad Carlin is all about a high-low mix when it comes to her outfits.
The 30-year-old is best known for her role in the Irish music fusion quartet, but her stellar singing career actually began long before she joined the group. The Derry native has been performing professionally for 15 years, sharing a stage with Snow Patrol and supporting American singer Don McLean on tour.
Her role with Celtic Woman has seen her traverse the US with her fellow members several times; performing in iconic venues like Colorado’s Red Rocks Amphitheater, racking up number one singles on the Billboard charts, and even earning a Grammy nomination along the way.
Later this year, the chart-topping group will embark on a tour of South America, Europe and the UK – but when she’s not on the road, Carlin lives in Dublin with her husband, Ronan.
Here, Carlin tells IMAGE.ie about her approach to packing for travelling to far-flung destinations, her trusty luxury investment purchases and the trend she’ll never tire of.
What makes you excited about getting dressed in the morning?
Wearing something that gives me confidence. I love wearing pieces that are timeless but a little bit different. I’ve never really followed trends, although I can appreciate them. I usually pair vintage with high street and a touch of designer, and I look to the French for inspiration.
What’s your failsafe, go-to look for a day when you’re lacking inspiration?
Because I travel so much, my go-to colour is black. I know, no matter what, that everything will go with it and I can pull it all together in a matter of minutes. I love a chunky black studded boot, leather-look trousers, a smart oversized button-up shirt, my black YSL bag (that literally comes everywhere with me) and my hair slicked back in a bun.
Last piece you bought?
A polka dot twin set from The Kooples with huge shoulders; I love a good padded shoulder. It looks like it’s straight out of the 80s.
What’s a typical ‘off duty’ look for you?
It genuinely depends on the day. If I’m feeling a bit ‘vibey’ I’ll wear something rock n’ roll inspired – my Led Zeppelin tee with black Acne jeans and an oversized blazer. Or, if it’s a gorgeous day outside, I’ll wear a white cotton dress with either my Gucci loafers or big chunky Bershka white sneakers… oh, and a straw hat always! I don’t really have one style – I just love mixing it up.
When you’re touring, what garments do you always bring with you?
Lululemon gym gear! Touring is all about comfort, so I only bring my easy clothes. We have to use the industrial washers in the venue so I need to invest in high-quality workout gear so it doesn’t get ruined (I hang dry everything). I pack light so I can buy stuff as I go along. I always find inspiration from where I am so if I’m in San Antonio I might want to wear a white cotton lace midi dress, tassel earrings and a red lip, or if I’m in New York, I’ll wear my Golden Goose trainers, a simple outfit and a crossbody bag so I can get across town in comfort.
Who decides your on-stage outfits?
We have a wonderful stylist Rhona Kelly who looks after our fabulous gowns and they are all handmade in Ireland. She’s the most effortlessly stylish woman I know.
First piece you saved all your pocket money for?
There was a wee vintage shop in Derry called Flip. I remember buying an original 1960s Sergeant Pepper-style pink retro dress and I wore it every single week out with my friends. I have always loved unusual pieces like that and if I’m mad about something I’ll wear it over and over again.
Where do you shop usually?
I get most of my essentials from Cos or Zara and I’ll then pair those with key, quality pieces. I think if you spend money on your core pieces like a blazer, sunglasses or a handbag you can change the rest up and buy from shops like Bershka, Pull & Bear or a thrift store. Honestly, though, I raid my mum’s wardrobe when I’m at home visiting Derry. She was a fashion buyer for years and has the best eye.
If you have something big coming up, where do you look for a killer outfit?
The Kooples never ever fails me. I have to admit, I got so excited when I heard they were stocking Love Shack Fancy and Olivia Rubin in Brown Thomas now. I also never buy clothes online because I have to try them on, so it just makes life so much simpler.
Last outfit you’d wear on earth?
A badass tailored Alexander McQueen suit.
Best ever bargain purchase?
An original gold lamé Oscar De La Renta blazer I got on The RealReal for $40.
Favorite fashion memory?
My sister came home from studying in London with her hair chopped into a pixie cut and she was wearing massive green cargo pants. As a teenager, I remember thinking, ‘Wow, she’s so cool’.
Designer you’d wear all the time if you won the Lotto?
Where do you seek style inspiration?
I have so many – but Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen all day, every day. Rebecca Corbin Murray. Kate Bosworth. Victoria Beckham.
Trend you’d never be caught dead in?
Trend you’d wear ‘til the cows come home?
One thing that’s been on your wishlist forever?
A pair of Terry De Havilland platforms.