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Vintage & Me: Irene O'Brien

Yay, it's another instalment of Vintage & Me! This week I am simply delighted to get a chance to chat to one of my favourite Irish stylists and broadcasters: Irene O'Brien. Irene is the real thing: a true lover of vintage fashion, she was out promoting and pioneering it on Irish media back when it wasn't considered as cool as it is today, and I've always hugely admired her for it. Read on for some of her brilliant style inspirations and tips!

Holly White vintage dress

Photo courtesy of Irene O'Brien

How would you describe your personal style?

I’ve learnt that I am either dressed like a 6 year old – a Tomboy or the girliest girl – or a 96 year old. There isn't really much in between! I love colour, pattern, exaggerated silhouettes… but mostly I just love dressing with fun as my main priority.

How and when did you first discover vintage?

I was always really drawn to clothes that were older than me. Obviously that wasn’t very hard at age 7 but even then it was the things in my mum’s wardrobe that seemed to boast a history that compelled me to try them. And I honestly felt transported in some of her pieces. I loved imagining where she wore them and who she met. I have always had a very romanticised view of clothing.

I think my very first piece of vintage that I bought myself was a pair of extremely long, super thin cord Levis. They were from O’Connors Jeans in Stillorgan Shopping Centre. It was quite random as they only had one rail of about eight pieces that were old – everything was brand new and very contemporary so I have never quite figured out what that was all about but I guess they were ahead of their time.

What is your favourite vintage era and why?

Without doubt the 60s. It’s the minis, the hair, the prints, the music, the fact that it was such a seismic shift in culture and behaviours from the decade prior. Youthquake happened, the teenager was born, music was political, females were expressing themselves in new ways through their style. I adore photos of my parents from this era. I will never get bored of reading, watching and listening to anything related.

What is your favourite vintage piece you own?

Well staying in the 60s, my mum got married (to my dad!) in 1969; I wore that wedding dress myself for my own wedding in 2016 so that has to be the most special pieces of sartorial history in my closet, I think.

In saying that, I get so much enjoyment out of my vintage clothes that I think every piece I’m wearing is my ‘absolute favourite’ on that particular day! When you really love what you buy you’ll have the best of times wearing it on repeat.

What are 3 timeless wardrobe pieces you recommend?

I’ll give you 4!

· A faux fur coat – for chilly days or festival nights.

· A jumpsuit – 70s originals were literally a cut above. My favourite kind of statement.

· A 60s mini – with our without tights; with or without shoes; always with a little spring in your cheeky step.

· A statement white shirt – big sleeves, big collars, big attitude. My I Can Tell By the Moon one is my absolute fave!

Photo Irene O'Brien via Instagram


Irene's Bio:

Irene O'Brien is a sustainable stylist with a huge passion for Vintage fashion. She is a regular fashion broadcaster for RTE Today and contributes to many other TV shows, publications and online platforms. Irene's latest project, The Gilded Thread podcast, is a must listen! It is a celebration of style and explores how our clothing impacts our lives. Her amazing guests share their life stories as told through their style memories through the decades. There are 4 episodes out so far; new ones are released every Tuesday until the end of the series. You can listen here on Spotify, here on Apple Music or via Acast.


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