Stylist Cathy O’Connor says the best thing you can have in your wardrobe is attitude, writes
POPULAR fashion stylist and broadcaster Cathy O’Connor admits when she says her age out loud she gives herself a fright.
“Like many people when I say my age, I think ‘who the hell is that?’ I’m constantly shocked!” she declares. But the mounting years don’t limit her in any way.
“As long as all of us stay plugged in and are curious about life and are open, then we are eternally fresh. You get people in their 30s who have settled attitudes and settled lifestyle habits and it’s game over — because they will never ever change, so it’s more about attitude than age.”
The 58-year-old Dublin woman is staying well plugged in herself: she has 18,000 followers on Instagram but reveals that until recently it was a challenge for her to feel comfortable with posting so many pictures of herself online.
“For someone of my generation putting yourself out there feels quite alien in a way, so I’m really grateful that there are people in those numbers who are interested in what I’m showing, wearing and doing. I really do not want to be the narcissist going: ‘hey, look at me wearing this’. It’s absolutely not what I’m about. So when I’m doing my little videos it’s so people have takeaway value because I am that real woman and I need forgiveness; I need cut and all those things, so that’s what I’m trying to highlight.
“In particular this year and a little of last year, part of me was so resistant to social media and kind of mortified when I put up another photograph of myself, but I have just embraced it now, because it is part of what I do and thanks be to God there are many people who are interested in it.”
As we age — and indeed at all stages — she says personal style is more important than actual fashion trends: “The greatest thing you can have in your wardrobe is attitude — absolute attitude; whatever you feel like wearing, wear it and do not second guess yourself, because you feel like you should look like someone else.”
And she adds: “At no point is it over. Just because you are in your 50s and upwards, does not mean that you can’t rock whatever you want to wear. You’ve got to own it and not apologise for yourself.”
As current ambassador for a Vision Express campaign promoting the importance of us getting our eyes checked regularly as we age, Cathy admits it took her a little time to “rock” her reading glasses, because she was resisting the fact that she needed them for a few years.
“Glasses now are a really nice accessory; you have that perfect combination of form and function; you can now actually see, but also they reflect who you are, because your choice of glasses do really say a lot about who you are.
“With these inexpensive readers I had, I would look down at the menu and then I’d peel them off me before I’d even look up. It was ‘God forbid if someone saw me’.”
Now, when she is reading in public or at her computer she is sporting a black and white pair to go with her dark hair with the white streak — pure vanity, she exclaims. And she has another pair in perspex.
There is a presumption that women “just came out of the womb” with a fashion sense, but as a personal shopper she knows that’s not true; it’s a skill that many have to learn.
Ageing is a continual learning process, says Cathy, and it’s never too late to get educated in all sorts of areas.
“Get out of your comfort zone and try new things — particularly those things that are a challenge for you, just to keep you fresh.”
She herself has a particular interest in mental health and self-care.
“It’s about managing my own mind because everything that happens to us comes through the filter of our own minds.
“I’m really mindful about where I focus my energy and the skill I try and develop most, is the facility to let go, being aware ‘am I focussing on this thought so that it is gathering momentum in my mind?’ It was one unpleasant thought, and now I am in bad humour. So it’s to try and stop the gathering of that momentum that’s really important.”
How does fashion play a role in all this?
“Given that clothes are about self-expression; they’re a very visual way of saying to the world ‘this is who I am’, I think the joy of putting on a personal outfit which makes you go ‘I feel so great in this, so confident’ is absolutely priceless.
“Because that’s what it’s about— being the best version of yourself; it’s about anything that ups your potential in that kind of way. It means you can engage with the world and do your thing and self-expression is at the core of who we are.”