Structured Style


Avoiding garish patterns and smatterings of prints, Kieran Murphy takes a thoughtful approach to minimalist looks with stylish choices in mind

Prints have been the trend for the past number of years. Welcomed by Celtic Tiger babies, Irish people have lapped up handbags, dresses, and almost everything else covered in garish patterns. The Irish – for some reason – are unique in thinking that for something to be stylish and expensive it must be adorned in glitter and over-the-top designs, a myth propelled by designer brands such as Juicy Couture and Louis Vuitton. Wearing printed garments is the sure-fire way to define yourself as quirky and original in your style.

We must ask ourselves, though: does wearing such garments constitute as stylish or unique? First we must define ‘stylish’ and ‘fashionable’. Fashionable is picking up any glossy magazine and buying what it defines as ‘chic’, but being stylish is something quite different – it’s being confident enough to pull off any garment, and truly unique with everything you wear. Coco Chanel said that “in order to be irreplaceable one must always be different” – but how can we achieve this uniqueness if we all have the same logoed t-shirt or the same patterned dress? When you throw on a flower-patterned dress, you become instantly ‘fashionable’ but lose your personal style. You let a store dictate what your clothes say about you, making you fit into their mold of their ideal customer, leaving very little room to customise or for self-expression.

There is an alternative that has been making waves throughout the fashion world, though, brought to Ireland by such stores as American Apparel and Urban Outfitters: dressing simply, relying on accessories and once-off signature pieces to express a personal style. This sense of style treats clothes as a blank canvas. Wearing simple t-shirts, simple jeans, simple skirts without logos, prints or any sign of authorship allows people to define themselves.

Think back to school: everyone had to wear the same uniform, but some people managed to make it their own. Girls hitched their skirts up high, had a multitude of hair bands and scarves to show off their style, while guys had their fancy belts and different ways of tying ties to express themselves. This is the same mentality with dressing simply: creating uniform looks that suit everyone but allowing people to express their personal style by adding accessories or wearing unique pieces.

American Apparel on Grafton Street has been one of the main supports of this sense of style. Most of the items are simple pieces with no logo or label, allowing the customers to style themselves. The store also has a small vintage section full of choice original pieces. American Apparel is the go-to for high-quality simple pieces, but the smart shopper cannot afford to overlook other stores. Almost every clothes store offer basic items that can be utilised for structured looks, but for more original pieces one must go further. Vintage shops are the most obvious choice, but Dublin is full of charity shops with once-off pieces. By introducing original vintage pieces into any outfit, you’re making a statement of originality and personal style that no one else could possibility possess.

By shunning prints offered by most stores, you’re allowing your style not to be dictated, to be put in the same box as everyone else. By personalising every outfit, you’re making it truly your own. You’re sharing something special with the world, a piece of yourself expressed through your own style.

Sebastian wears:

Bag, Urban Outfitters, €45

Shirt, H&M, €20

Levis, €90, bought in Berlin

Shoes, Office, €60

T-Shirt, Zara, €10

Cheap Mondays, bought in Berlin, €50

Scarf, €10, bought in Berlin

Converse, Office, €45

Belt, model’s own.

Imelda wears:

Skirt, €4, Penneys

Vest, €2, Dunnes Store

Shoes, €30, New Look

Cardigan and bracelet, stylist’s own

Dress, A-Wear, €38

Shoes, River Island, €55

Bracelet, stylist’s own

Stylist: Kieran Murphy

Photographer: Colin Scally

Models: Imelda Hehir and Sebastian Jähne