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My life in fashion: Five minutes with radio presenter and stylist Rebecca McKinney

My life in fashion: Five minutes with radio presenter and stylist Rebecca McKinney


by Rebecca McKinney
16th Jan 2023

When she’s not waking Northern Ireland up on Cool FM’s breakfast show, Rebecca McKinney loves to celebrate all things style and beauty. Here she shares more about her life in fashion.

Fashion for me… has always been a huge part of who I am. As a teenager, I used it to help me fit in; in my twenties, it helped me discover my career path and in my thirties, it is a tool to express myself. Dressing for me, reflects my mood and in many ways, has been my armour – a well-put-together outfit gives me confidence, I feel like I could face anything.

My journey to becoming a stylist was… accidental, but complete fate. A law graduate, with creativity in my heart and soul, I walked away from the legal bar in Belfast and decided to do retail marketing instead. Going down that path taught me so much about communicating and the power of people. An opportunity with a client, at Victoria Square, came as a huge leap of faith that opened career doors I never expected. Fashion has always been the catalyst for fulfilling my dreams. Three years as Victoria Square’s resident personal stylist gave me the opportunity to work with incredible global brands and produce fashion events and campaigns that I am forever proud of. When I’m not presenting the Cool FM breakfast show, my styling business continues to fulfil that passion to help women feel great about themselves. A well-put-together outfit has magical powers!

I wake at… five mornings a week, my alarm wakes me at 4:45am. I always set an outfit out on the chair in one corner of my bedroom the night before. If I don’t, my day starts off on the wrong foot. I hate nothing more than feeling thrown together; it knocks off my mood for the whole day. I am eight years doing the breakfast radio show and my early morning style has definitely evolved. On days when I am purely studio based, my go-to would be ‘elevated loungewear’ – leggings and a matching sweatshirt, chunky runners, an oversized coat and a cap. My current favourite brand for minimal effort with maximum style would be Adanola. If I’m heading to the gym after the show, Gymshark is my go-to. When I am racing to a client meeting or to film for Cool FM after the breakfast show, I need an outfit that will make an impact, but that still looks smart when worn from 5am.

My taste is… constantly evolving, but my usual look would always be smart with a nod to what’s currently trending. I love an oversized blazer, skinny jeans and heels combo. Some of my favourites come from Zara and I always size up with their jackets. Oversized is chic.

Everyone should have… a nice coat. Coats form the backbone of my wardrobe. A great coat can transform even the most basic outfit – whether it’s a tracksuit or black jumper dress, get the coat right and you’re flying! Currently, I love a structured shoulder and slightly androgynous fit – ASOS, NA-KD and River Island are nailing coats for me this season.

My weakness is… neutral tones are my weakness. I flit between wearing a tonal palette of cream and white to a bold colour pop – there is no in-between with me! I am not a massive fan of print though. For day time, I live in cream knitwear and camel coats. For evening, and usually for work occasions, I tend to veer toward a neutral palette with a pop of colour.

Two of my favourite looks I’ve ever worn are… a bright electric blue structured coat from Karen Millen to judge Best Dressed Lady at Down Royal Racecourse, and a bright pink and black Solace London evening gown to host the Miss Northern Ireland final. I’m constantly thinking about what will work best on camera, and colour blocking is always a winner.

When I am styling outfits… I love taking a few hours out of my schedule to outfit plan, be that for work outfits or for when I’m travelling. I’ll set up a clothes rail and work out looks from head to toe, with shoes and accessories hung beside the outfit. Then I snap a quick picture and cross-reference it with a description of the day I plan to wear it in the notes section of my phone. This helps me feel organised, which in turn encourages my brain to stay calm when my schedule is busy.

My own wardrobe is… a small walk-in, but I make the most of the space. Normally, I advise clients to organise their clothes according to item or colour palette. My preference is a colour palette flow, so I know if I’m looking for a neutral basic, I’ll be able to go to that section and find something tonal. Tonal dressing is the key to making an outfit look well thought out and expensive… even if it isn’t!

I mostly shop in… I love to shop around – Zara, Mango, ASOS, All Saints, &Other Stories being the high street repeat offenders. I don’t usually buy designer unless it is an investment shoe or bag. For evening wear, I like to search a little more to find something different. I host so many events throughout the year, that changing up my look keeps it interesting for me. I sell most of my work dresses after I’ve worn them so that someone else can share the joy in wearing these pieces. My occasion wear favourites are Nadine Merabi, Solace London, Reiss, Self Portrait and Rebecca Vallance.

My favourite time of year to dress for is… autumn. I adore coats, boots and knitwear. The best chunky, black boots I own are from Skechers – they were the surprise buy of the season but I love how they edge up any outfit. My birthday is in September, so I love planning a great party look and treating myself to a new piece for my AW wardrobe. This year it was a classic Ted Baker camel coat. It’s an investment piece I know I will wear for years.

Heels will always be where my heart lies… and I have built up a beautiful collection of shoes. From classic black courts, to nude barely theres, to an emerald green outfit game changer! However, I have started to appreciate a flat more and more. A recent purchase was a pair of New Balance 327s in a cream colourway, they definitely smarten up a casual look.

Three wardrobe staples I always encourage my clients to invest in are… a camel coat for AW/a trench for SS, an oversized white shirt and a great pair of jeans. These three items will work consistently hard for you in your wardrobe.

When it comes to accessories… I am a minimal girl. Day to day, I wear gold jewellery. Chunky rings and fine pendant necklaces from Monica Vinader are my go-to, the quality is excellent. For evening, I pick one statement piece and run with that. A gorgeous earring or a stunning neckpiece – one or the other, never both!

My favourite people to follow online for style inspo are… Erika Fox (@retroflame), Pippa O’Connor (@pipsy_pie) and Lydia Millen (@lydiamillen), but I get inspiration from everywhere and everyone. Nothing makes me happier than walking past someone in a fab outfit on the street. I would high-five them, if that didn’t make me seem weird!

The best style advice I have ever gotten… in a world full of trends, remain a classic.

Photography by Rebecca McKinney, @rebecca_mckinney1. We may earn a commission if you buy something from any affiliate links on our site.