A little while ago, we were scrolling through our Instagram feed when we came across a page that we instantly fell in love with. Her fun and edgy style was abundant in her OOTD pics but her captions were real, honest and humorous. We love ourselves a gal that doesn't take herself too seriously! So, meet Irene of Gingham and Sparkle. Having lived in Dubai for almost 15 years, her style has been influenced by the modest customs but she always makes sure to inject her own, bold, personal spin on any outfit. Read on to get to know our latest bestie...
Note To Self: Your style is so cool and fun! Did you always have a more playful approach to fashion?
Gingham & Sparkle: Fun Fact: When I used to work for Irish Airline - Aer Lingus back in my early 20's. My fellow crew members used to call me the 'Accessory Queen' as I was known to always co-ordinate my outfits with matching accessories. So...I think I've always had a 'fun' and colorful approach to fashion, I love putting outfits together and especially playing around with accessories. My fashion style has definitely evolved throughout the years but I always like to think I still have a quirky edge.
NTS: What are your current wardrobe must haves?
G & S: These change from season to season but some items I have LOVING and cannot live without at the moment are denim boiler suits/play-suits, wedge-espadrilles, Dad trainers, all types of midi-dresses from stripes to gingham to florals and print, tops with voluminous sleeves, pastel colour blazer and trouser suits, all types of wicker basket bags along with beaded bags and giant hair clips
NTS: Describe your style in 3 words
G & S: Trend-driven, bold and edgy.
NTS: How long have you been living in Dubai for?
G & S: This year, it's coming up to 15 years!! I'm practically a local.
NTS: We’re all friends here. Tell us something that not many people know about you
G & S: Without letting you in on all my very embarrassing anecdotes, I used to be quite musical and had what is known as a 'musical ear'. Growing up I played the tin whistle and the piano/keyboard. I used to actually play the keyboard for church weddings in Ireland and for Mass. Maybe I should take up music again......anyone looking for a stylish keyboard player???
NTS: What’s your shopping style when buying new clothes; impulsive or thoughtful?
G & S: It's actually a bit of both and it depends on my budget and which shop I am in. For example, if I've just gotten paid and I for some reason end up in Zara (it happens a lot!!) I can't control myself and will basically hand over my salary to the shop. In that case, I would say I'm quite impulsive BUT I do know going shopping and in my mind (either to a store or online) I know what I'm on the hunt for. The problem lies with getting totally distracted by other wonderful stuff and then buying everything (which in turn...brings on the guilt #viciouscircle!)
NTS: Where’s your favourite travel destination and why?
G & S: This is a difficult question for me as my job used to be traveling the world (with various airlines including Emirates) so I was fortunate enough to see a lot of the world and travel to places I wouldn't normally have done so. But there is just one destination that always excites me, gives me a buzz and one which I will never EVER tire of and that's New York. At one stage I used to fly there 3/4 times a month so I got to know the city pretty well. I could totally see myself living there and always got sad when it was time to leave. So New York or in fact, anywhere in the USA will always be my favorite.
NTS: Describe your idea of a perfect weekend
G & S: My perfect weekend would be a trip away/staycation with my husband, kids and friends. Just a change of scenery in a nice hotel/resort where everyone just lazes by the pool and beach all day, sipping cocktails at sunset and a nice meal in the evening. Then the following morning would involve a relaxed long breakfast, totally chilled with the kids all playing together before we head back home.
NTS: Has living in the UAE changed your style at all? And if so, how?
G & S: I would say...yes it has for sure. Not that I have ever been one to flash the flesh that much (putting aside my late teenage/early 20's - basically when I was a lot younger!) I feel living here has made me appreciate and love modest clothing and the whole modest fashion vibe so much more. I love a nice dress with long sleeves and of course midi-length - there is just something so elegant and classic about the whole look. Long palazzo trousers with a kimono or long-line shirt is also a look I am obsessing over at the moment and as there is such a strong feel for the whole modest fashion scene here, I do find it truly inspires me.
NTS: what do you do for self care?
G & S: If I was to answer this in two different ways.....I would break it down into mental self-care and physical self-care. Looking at the mental aspect, I love nothing more than relaxing with a good podcast - I feel it distracts my mind and can take me away to another place. I also find exercise in either a fitness class, running or gym capacity vital for my mental well-being. In staying with the mental side of things, removing myself from social media plays a huge part in my self-care and if I switch off for a weekend, I feel so much more refreshed and ready for the week ahead.
Physically, I love getting my hair done (especially as I'm sooo bad at styling it myself etc), facials are a must-do for me and I have them regularly. Having good skin just makes me feel instantly good about myself.
Have you fallen in love with Gingham and Sparkle just like us? Make sure you check her out on Instagram!