Sustainable Style Spotlight: Aideen Foley
Aideen Foley is a 26-year-old self-professed thrifting ‘addict’. Originally from North Co Dublin, she grew up on one of Ireland’s biggest tomato farms, and gets a lot of her creative inspiration from her mum. Here she tells us her biggest fashion weakness and why 90s-era Julia Roberts is her style icon.
Deciding what to wear each morning is… often rushed. I have very little time to get ready each morning before work. I tend to start with a pair of trousers and go from there. On the weekends I take my time and will probably try on half of my wardrobe before I’m out the door.
I choose my look each day depending on… how I feel when I wake up. It sounds cliché but it is very true. If it’s a Monday morning in winter and I have to drag myself out of bed, I probably won’t be giving too much attention to detail to my clothing choices. The seasons of the year also dictate my colour palette when it comes to fashion.
The best investment I ever made in my wardrobe was… an AllSaints tartan wool coat. I take it out every winter season and never ever tire of it. I wanted somewhat of a statement coat that wasn’t a trend-driven design, and I found my perfect match. In terms of capsule dressing, I think coats are the one class of clothing we need the least of!
It takes me anywhere between 10 minutes to 2 hours to get ready because I… like to take my time at the weekends and try on different combinations of clothing. As mentioned, the weekday mornings are a more rushed affair in terms of getting ready!
My biggest fashion weakness is… buying impractical shoes. Your shoes need to be comfortable, it’s as simple as. There’s no point spending money on a pair of shoes that you won’t last more than an hour in because they’re so uncomfortable. I will admit in the past I’ve definitely chosen aesthetic over comfort when it comes to footwear.
The one fashion piece I would save in a fire is… a pair of cream high-waisted trousers. I thrifted them in a charity shop in Stoneybatter for a fiver! They’re by a brand called Chica so my friends and I call them ‘The Chicas’. They’ve been lent out and worn by many pals and are always the central focus of my outfit. I hope to never part with the iconic Chicas.
My style in three words: Colourful, tailored and thrifted! I was a huge tomboy growing up and can see so much of my former self in my current clothing preferences… I guess not so former! When shopping, I gravitate towards structure and texture. I’m not big on a lot of print, and for example, would usually pair a looser top half with something more fitted on the bottom and vice versa.
My relationship with fashion is… forever changing. The Covid lockdowns provided a positive opportunity and a platform for me to build and question my personal style. I fell in love with creating content on Instagram which really helped to push myself out of my fashion comfort zone.
Heels or flats? Heels! While I love a chunky runner I own quite a lot of heels. I will take any excuse to add more height to an outfit.
My style icon is… 90s-era Julia Roberts. She accepted a Golden Globe in an oversized grey suit and looked better than everyone else there.
My favourite time of year to dress for is… spring. You don’t have to hide your outfit under a coat but have more scope than just shorts and a t-shirt!
Best style advice I’ve ever gotten… the rules are, there are no rules! I’m allergic to dress codes… I think just wear what you feel like wearing. For some people clothing is just a must, for others, it’s their whole identity.
The 3 ingredients of a good outfit are… don’t go overboard with print, a good outfit does not exist without accessories, and comfort is key!
My current favourite piece of clothing is… my Joanne Hynes eyelet dress.
Three wardrobe staples everyone should invest in: A pair of brown boots, a good quality white t-shirt and a bright-coloured blazer.
If I could raid one person’s wardrobe it would be… Alexa Chung. No explanation needed.
My fool-proof date night outfit is… a pair of high-waisted trousers, a basic top and a heeled mule. I always add colour usually with a blazer or jacket. Accessories are a must, add a hoop earring and a cross-body bag and you’re good to go for that date night whiskey sour.
My favourite fashion era is… the 1970s, no questions asked. An explosion of colour and everything high-waisted and flared! I’m always on the lookout for 70s-style waistcoats when thrifting. The men’s section sometimes have the better finds.
I feel most confident when wearing… a matching suit, and make it colourful. There’s a certain confidence you gain from strutting around in a statement suit.
Outfit with the most sentimental meaning: My mum’s style when she was younger was iconic. We found a 1980’s co-ord in the attic during a clearout and it now lives in my wardrobe. It is very 80s and very cool.
My best vintage find is… a pair of cowboy boots from a vintage shop in Lisbon. Yee-haw!
Fashion is about… feeling comfortable and wearing what you want to wear. It is an incredibly important and expressive form of creativity, but is also partly the reason we should all be trying to become more conscious consumers.
The most worn item in my wardrobe is probably… a cheetah print jacket I thrifted from Lucy’s Lounge in Temple bar. It is a recent purchase but I have been wearing it non-stop. It’s perfect for when the weather isn’t too cold.
My favourite people to follow online for second hand style inspiration are… @secondhandhuns (of course), Verona has such skill for styling the simplest of pieces in a really unique way. I also turn to the likes of @evelilycp and @__mmaxinewylde for maximalist styling inspo.
The last thing I bought was… a pair of COS navy trousers, found at the NCBI in Rathmines for €8. I think they are quickly going to become one of my wardrobe staples.
On weekends I tend to wear… just about anything. It totally depends on what I am doing. I tend to use dinner plans and nights out as an opportunity to wear the items that don’t get a lot of air time during the week. Some things just aren’t practical for work so I let them shine at the weekend.
The piece I have my eye on right now is… everything in the favourites section of my Depop. I spotted a 1970s style mini-dress with balloon sleeves last week, just waiting on the pay cheque!
The second-hand/vintage platforms I shop on are… Depop for online thrifting. I mostly thrift in charity shops and second hand boutiques. There are some great ones around the city. Babydoll Vintage opened up a store in Dublin city last year so it’s great to be able to go and try on true vintage items before deciding to buy.
The best city for second-hand shopping is… definitely Melbourne. I lived there for six months and spent so much time in second hand or op shops as the Aussies call them. Living in Melbourne was quite a defining time for my thrifting journey. I have a lot more European cities on the thrifting bucket list!
Biggest misconception about shopping second hand/thrifting? With charity shops, I hear a lot of ‘I won’t find anything I like’. I think that is more down to most of us being very used to the convenience of online shopping. Depop and Etsy are incredible resources if you’re shopping for something particular. You can define your searches by so many attributes like colour and size. When shopping in a charity shop, you just need to be open to finding anything.
Best thrifting tips? For online platforms like Depop always ask the seller about the item. You can’t hold physically hold the item so you should use the seller’s knowledge of it as an advantage! If you think something is priced unreasonably don’t be afraid to negotiate. It’s cheesy but have fun! I get so much enjoyment from second-hand shopping.
I got into second hand fashion because… living in Melbourne opened up my eyes to how rewarding second hand shopping can be. When I came back home to Ireland I wasn’t interested in shopping on the high street. I took part in a sustainable styling competition with Thriftify in 2021 and since then haven’t really looked back. I’m not sure I ever will.