Interior architect Aoife Mulvenna has a wardrobe filled with form, function and excellent footwear. She tells the tales behind her best-loved buys …
Tales From My Wardrobe, a new style series that explores the wardrobes of THE GLOSS community, is a love letter to the pieces we reach for again and again, the hard-earned investment purchases that make us smile with each wear and the items that supercede mere ‘clothing’ to carry memories and foster emotional connection.
First up, Belfast-based interior architect Aoife Mulvenna shares her love of divisive footwear, reveals the styling formulas she calls upon daily and waxes lyrical about The Row …
My favourite piece in my wardrobe right now is a pair of The Row Gaia Boots. I pined over them for the guts of three years, so I recently bit the bullet and purchased a second-hand pair through Vestiaire Collective. I love a wide, masculine shoe but I have quite narrow ankles, so I love how neat the neck of the Gaia boots sits against the calf, whilst not being too tight around the foot. They’re my dream boot and literally have been glued to my feet ever since.
My Tom Wood onyx and gold signet ring is one of my most treasured items. It’s the ring my fiancé Robbie proposed with on Keem Bay, Achill Island, last summer. I think it says a lot about his character; I mentioned how much I loved that ring when we first started dating four years ago, so you can imagine my face when he pulled it out of his pocket – there were a lot of tears. My late grandfather also proposed to my granny with a signet ring while he saved for a diamond ring, so there’s a feeling of generations coming full circle. It’s a piece I hope to pass down to my own sprogs someday, so I guess I view it as a new heirloom of sorts to be cherished by many for the future.
The most recent item I bought is a navy Studio Nicholson Vo Coat, in the Christmas sales. I wouldn’t be big into Christmas sales, but they are a good opportunity to buy the odd investment piece at a discounted price. It’s a voluminous, cotton, waterproof piece with an inner storm flap and flexible, buttoned collar – perfect for blustery Irish weather. Like a lot of their pieces, it’s masculine in its shape with beautiful architectural cuts, making it perfect for casual and formal attire. I usually layer mine with a black turtleneck, a bright blue shirt, a pair of black cigarette trousers and masculine shoes like my 1461 Mono Dr. Martens or The Row Gaia Boots.
The best bargain in my wardrobe is my opinion dividing Margaret Howell MHL clogs. I found them second-hand on Vestiaire Collective (where I buy most of my designer pieces). I think I bought them for £40, and they were £150 on the Margaret Howell website. They’re great with a pair of chunky wool socks and turned-up indigo denim jeans. Galloping around the house like a horse when they arrive is also a must, naturally …
I’ve made a few big investments over the years in a bid to buy better and therefore less frequently. The Row Gaia boots and Sabot mules are up there with some of my biggest investments, alongside my rubber Kassl Editions and House of Dagmar black wool coats. Shoes and coats are definitely the two items I invest in the most. I always say clothes need to be practical as well as beautiful. Much like in architecture, where form and function need to be present in any project, clothes can be the same. We live in a country where four seasons sometimes happen in one day, so I always base my outfits around a good pair of shoes and a voluminous coat that could carry me through a rain downpour or a snowy blizzard.
My &Daughter jumpers may as well be stitched to my skin at this stage; they have more than paid for themselves in cost-per-wear. No matter what time of the year, I always have one with me. I love snuggling into them in the winter or pairing one with shorts on a windy Donegal beach in the summer. They’re expensive but utterly timeless, so, in my eyes, they are completely worth the spend. They’re also a local brand, using wool from Ireland, Scotland and England, so I’m happy to invest as it means giving back to our local creatives.
My favourite place to find hidden gems is Vestiaire Collective, an online pre-owned fashion store. I’ve probably mentioned it at least 50 times already but I can’t recommend it enough for secondhand designer pieces. Most of the items I’ve purchased haven’t even been worn and are in just as good a condition as the big fashion outlets, but at a fraction of the price.
My Arket alpaca two-piece jumper/trouser combination is the least ‘fashion’ item I own that I wear all the time. Honestly, after a long day’s work, there is nothing better than sticking it on and lying on the sofa with a cup of tea. Robbie, my partner, calls it my primary school tracksuit, but, sure look, it’s comfortable, so it’s staying put!
My Low Classic Lucky Bag is permanently strapped across my chest. It’s like Mary Poppins’ handbag, you can fit so much in it. It’s great for someone like me, who tends to carry their life around with them. I’m often out on site, chatting with clients about their projects and need my hands free for sketching and measuring, so a crossbody bag is a real godsend.
The dream fashion piece I am lusting after is another piece by The Row. Surprise, surprise! I love the original black, leather Fisherman sandals, but not the brushed leather. I’m picky! I also regret not jumping on the Jil Sander x Birkenstock collaboration when it first came out. I’ve been scouring the internet for a pair of the Berlin mules in beige or black ever since. And controversially, I would absolutely love a pair of the Maison Margiela Mary Jane Tabis for the summer. Call me Mr Tumnus, but I do love a good ‘hoof’ inspired shoe. The fact they divide opinion so much probably makes me want them more.
My most hardworking accessory is definitely a pair of St. Agni Gio sandals. I bought them last August before heading to Croatia for two weeks, and boy did I put them through their paces. They appear quite delicate with their fine straps, but, kudos to the brand as they really held it together through the rocky beaches and crowded dance floors of Dubrovnik. I only got a month out of them before the weather turned last year, so I can’t wait to pull them out again this summer and pair them with some oversized Filippa K suits I was kindly gifted recently.
The piece I am proudest of is one I have made! I tried my hand at dress-making over lockdown, having taken up a night class a few years back. Stuck in the house with little else to do meant I finally got to work on my first proper piece; a The Row inspired deep V-neck black dress. It still has no lining and there are a few loose threads here and there but I love the cut and simplicity. I’m aiming to finally finish it off this summer and get to work on a long-sleeved off-white linen dress, in time for a much needed holiday to Barcelona.
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