ONE of the country’s best-known stylists, Cathy O’Connor is on a mission, writes Esther McCarthy.
She wants to make fashion accessible to and fun for all women, not just the youth or trend-orientated fashion fan. In her role as a personal shopper, she’s noticed an increased number of clients who have grown frustrated at a lack of choice.
“I’m finding it really interesting that there are generations of women fashion no longer speaks to,” she says. “Everyone is chasing a youth or trend-based market and there are lots of women who feel excluded. Women who are confident but fashion says: ‘We don’t want to talk to you’.
“There are women who are trying to find their tribe, who love their style but are sort of second-guessing themselves on it. That’s where I’m finding women who want to be in the game but are looking for their style in an area that’s so trend orientated. That’s a territory I’m finding really interesting.”
As well as being a style advisor, Cathy contributes to TV and radio, produces fashion shows and does style workshops. A busy life means she feels she’s taken her “eye off the ball” in terms of her fitness but is already addressing that, recently taking up dance classes and returning to the yoga that she loves.
Follow Cathy on Instagram @cathyocstylist.
What shape are you in?
Not great shape to be honest. I’ve put on weight but I’ve put things in motion to get fit again and watch my diet. I’ve had to admit to myself I’m not a gym bunny. I’m doing dance classes with Jane Shortall and yoga for the body as well as the mind. Sometimes, with yoga, I lose my way and go back and go: ‘How I’ve missed you!’
What are your healthiest eating habits?
I’m taking a product called Symprove which is a supplement for gut health. That’s been really good. I’m less inclined to eat what I shouldn’t be eating. I always have a good breakfast.
What are your guiltiest pleasures?
Chocolate, chocolate and chocolate. Did I mention chocolate? I really love Butlers. Life’s better with chocolate!
What would keep you awake at night?
I don’t struggle with sleep. However, I have rarely woken up in the morning feeling refreshed. That is the thing of dreams for me. It’s not necessarily that I’m a bad sleeper, but I don’t feel refreshed.
How do you relax?
Relaxation for me is when I’m in nature and — I really try to do this as part of my daily ritual — I go out to look at the trees, or the sea, and almost by osmosis I relax. For me, one of the most important things is mental health. We live very busy and potentially stressful lives. I make sure and go out. To be absorbed in what’s going on, and nature is the best place for me to do that. When the days are short it’s all the more reason to get out in the open.
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Mine is less about names and more about a person’s nature. I like people who laugh a lot, who are courageous in their heart, who are interested in or passionate about things. It’s more about what the vibe is than what the names of those people are. I really like that kind of energy.
What’s your favourite smell?
That would be the delicious aromatic fragrance from the yellow roses in my mother’s garden. Smell is so strong and evocative in that way.
What would you like to change about your appearance?
In some ways there’s any amount of things. On the other hand there’s nothing I’d go under the knife for. There’s nothing I feel that strongly about. I think it’s important to be grateful to have a body that functions well.
When is the last time you cried?
When I was watching the Dublin marathon. It runs very close to where I live so I go out and cheer them on. There’s something about people digging deep to attain something that I find deeply moving.
What traits do you least like in others?
I dislike meanness in any form. I dislike bullying. And people who are closed-minded in general, I don’t like to be around them.
What traits do you least like about yourself?
I can be distracted. By nature I enjoy having a lot going on but sometimes I have too much going on.
Do you pray?
I don’t pray in a formal sense. But I would have a connection to whatever is there that I would be in touch with.
What would cheer up your day?
An act of kindness. As I get older there’s something about kindness that really touches my heart. It really cheers me up. Giving as well as receiving. Kindness of any sort is kind of wonderful.