Rosemary Mac Cabe

Hemlines, heels and haute couture – your daily dose

Do you want to be a stylist? Elle hits Dublin

When I was younger, I put in some serious retail time as I considered what avenue in fashion I wanted to go down. I worked in Urban Outfitters (where you get a 40% discount but, in Temple Bar at least, …

Tue, May 25, 2010, 10:30


When I was younger, I put in some serious retail time as I considered what avenue in fashion I wanted to go down. I worked in Urban Outfitters (where you get a 40% discount but, in Temple Bar at least, you will be expected to mop the floors and clean the staff toilets, which displeased me), in Brown Thomas (decent discount, strict on dress codes, not a whole lot of fun as far as I remember), BT2 (tiny children being purchased Ralph Lauren that will fit them for approximately three months – ’nuff said), Tattoo in St Stephen’s Green centre, which is now called something else but was a really great place to work (small staff usually equals good atmosphere) . . .

I also worked in Zara when it opened in Dublin, which was an experience and a half; on the first day, they took in €250,000 from customers who queued for 45 minutes to purchase T-shirts and dresses. We did our training in the London stores, and stayed in the Hilton off Oxford Circus for three weeks while the Dublin store was kitted out. Work was efficient and businesslike – not for us the loud, booming music and creative ensembles of Urban Outfitters – but the working day was the working day and I think that, of all the places I work, Zara most informed my work “ethic”, insofar as it exists.

While I worked in retail, shuffling from cashier (thinking about becoming a buyer) to retail assistant (considering styling) to occasional window dresser (could I have been a merchandiser?), there were always people who stood out for their creativity – especially in places like Urban, where you had the freedom to dress yourself in a way that expressed not only your own fashion aesthetic, but that of the brand (everywhere I worked, bar Zara, which had a uniform, encourage you to wear items from the store). Now, Elle magazine has decided to recognise these talents by launching the search for Ireland the UK’s next top stylist – a man or woman who is currently hiding in the guise of a retail assistant.

Insofar as I can endorse anything (I’m a blogger, not Anna Wintour, for crying out loud), this has my full endorsement. It’s such a long overdue concept; the idea that people who work in fashion might actually be really freaking good at fashion, and might not have the opportunity to demonstrate their skills in their current position. But look, I could ramble for ages about styling and retail and styling and retail and cleaning toilets – but instead I’ll tell you to high-tail it down to Urban Outfitters in Temple Bar tomorrow morning from 8.30am, where you can register your interest in the competition.

Oh AND: the prize is the chance to style a shoot for Elle, an internship at the magazine and mentoring from some of the top stylists and editors in the business. If I could enter, I would – 1,000 times over.

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