A trio of stylish approaches


Three fashion retailers discuss their personal style

I am not one of them. As soon as summer has officially passed I shall return to waxing lyrical about layering, the opportunities provided by the circle scarf, and the beauty of slate-grey tights. But for now we’re still talking lightweight, breathable fabrics, candy colours and short-sleeved shirts.

Until, that is, the children go back to school and we can give up this farce and take the Aran sweaters out of storage.

TOM MONAGHANowns Monaghan Cashmere in Dublin’s Royal Hibernian Way, monaghancashmere.ie

The thing about dressing for summer is . . .it’s all about casuals. I like to get into a short-sleeved shirt, a nice pair of trousers and nice casuals to go with it.

My daughter has an apartment in Marbella . . .and she insists that I go out for a week. She believes that I need sunshine, but I really only unwind on the day I come home.

It’s hard to plan for a summer . . .for clothing. This summer, we just didn’t get the weather.

I love a bit of colour . . .I always did. I always loved bright suits, and whether I’m buying for the ladies or the gents, I always go for colour. Colour is everything for me.

Some of the flamboyant colours I buy . . .they don’t sell. We discount them and let them go. For St Patrick’s Day, I buy green shirts, green sweaters and green ties, and I put on a show. I always go for colour.

LISA BYRNEstylist and milliner, lisalufashion.com

I’d say I’m modern vintage . . .I’m obsessed with the 1920s so I’ll bring in an element of that style and adjust my accessories to be a little more up to date.

I used to be a dress-wearer . . .but now I prefer separates. I get to play with my clothes more and I get value out of each item.

Summer dressing means . . .there are fewer restraints on dressing, and brighter colours to flirt with.

I love winter layering . . .but there’s nothing like stepping out of your woollies to reveal the outfit beneath.

In summer, you don’t need to hide the best aspects of your look just becauses the temperature forces you to.

I feel fresher and more vibrant . . .because fabrics are lighter and more breathable.

I love this season’s muted candy colours . . .it was a welcome challenge, trying to get those pastels to suit my Irish skin tone.

I have a vintage midi skirt . . .that I wear a lot. It’s comfortable and lightweight and I can wear bare legs and sandals and still look dressy.

I’ve been getting a lot of wear out of my shorts . . .they’re functional for work because I run around town quite a bit. I can do so freely without worrying about them blowing up in the wind or getting caught in my bag.

ELAINE CURTISis a fashion retailer – her shop in Co Carlow stocks Diane von Furstenberg, Manoush and MiH jeans. elainecurtis.ie

I have diverse taste . . .and dabble in everything, but the women I work with think my style is “quirky chic”.

I love bright colours . . .and prints in summer, but I always stick to classic shapes.

My off-duty style is quite simple . . .MiH jeans with a coloured Sonia Rykiel top and fitted blazer.

In work, I’m more adventurous . . .one day I might wear a little black dress with quirky footwear to put my own twist on it.

Summer dressing in Ireland . . .is always a little challenging. But I love the lightweight, natural fabrics you get in the summer.

When I’m going on holidays . . .I pack my case full of things I love, but I am invariably drawn to the same pieces: simple sundresses, or a printed tunic by Diane von Furstenberg that doubles as a great beach cover-up.

What to do with a fine stash of nearly new suits?

A male friend of mine is in the process of doing a wardrobe clear-out and as a result has a large number of barely worn designer suits that he is looking to either pass on to a charity shop or, if possible, bring to a “nearly new” store in Dublin.

I’ve had a search online and can only find shops catering for ladies’ fashions. Is there such a place for menswear?

Caoimhe, by email

While you’re not wrong in thinking that the second-hand market caters largely to women, a good number of these stores also stock a small range of menswear – usually down the back, in a far corner. I’m not sure why; perhaps men haven’t quite opened up to the idea of wearing someone else’s cast-offs in the way women have. In any case, they do exist, and most Barnardos or Oxfam stores will take menswear from you – in the case of designer suits, they will probably do so with glee.

Temple Bar’s Swopshop will accept menswear, which can be swapped in store for items that have been donated by other people. It offers better value on higher end or designer labels. Tel: 01-6578702, swopshop.ie.

Another Temple Bar option, Siopaella is a consignment store that will sell nearly new clothing and accessories. Items can be swapped, or they can be consigned – meaning that you will take home a portion of the takings once they have been sold, which can obviously be either passed on to charity or kept, as your friend sees fit. siopaella.com, 086-7834441.

The best option might be eBay – you can set a reserve price and control how much the items go for, as well as deciding what to do with the earnings, all of which will be yours (except the small percentage eBay takes as commission). It’s a little bit more work, as items will need to be photographed, documented and, all going well, posted, but it may be the best way to ensure your friend gets full bang for his buck.

Bespoke bras and outfits  for those with a smaller bust

I’m a flat-chested woman and, while it’s heartening to see the parade of fantastically talented flat-chested women in the Olympics, where do they get their bras? Like me, they probably find that bra-less is the most comfortable option, but it means clothes don’t hang well. I wear 36AA from Marks Spencer but find them a bit tight. 38AA, when I can find it, is too big. What I need is a bespoke bra: the cup of the 36AA and the straps of the 38AA. Does such a service or product exist?

Elaine, by email

As I see it, you have two problems: firstly, you need to find bras that fit and flatter you while looking good under clothes. Secondly, you need to find clothes that will fit and flatter you without requiring you to wear padded bras.

Bespoke bras exist, but you may end up forking out a little more than the €11 those lucky enough to fit into Penneys’ bras will be spending. Helen’s Lingerie Boutique in Dungarvan, Co Waterford (tel: 058-44193) offers a free measuring service and stocks a huge range of brands so you’ll be able to pick and choose until you find one that’s right for you.

In Dublin, Intimate Lingerie almost always comes out on top when entirely scientifically accurate polls are held using Twitter and Facebook. It offers fittings by appointment, caters for all sizes and will have pieces made to order, which may be just what you’re looking for. 01-6771010, intimate-linger.ie.

Now, to your second issue – when it comes to clothing, you need to dress for yourself, not for anyone else or according to what magazines or friends tell you. Look to famous women with smaller chests – Cameron Diaz (below), perhaps, or Kim Cattrall – and see how they are dressing. Those Mad Men dresses with 1950s silhouettes and hourglass shapes are possibly not going to be for you, but the drop-waisted styles that are currently coming into vogue (thanks to the will-it-ever-get-here impending release of Baz Luhrmann’s Great Gatsby) will be right up your street.

If you want to go braless but are afraid of nipple exposure, try wearing some of the more embellished tees and dresses (Zara is usually a good bet) or invest in some nipple covers. Debenhams sells clear silicone pads that you stick over your nipples (it’s a lot less painful than it sounds) for €9.75 to prevent you getting caught, ahem, out.