The Quickie

I love fashion.

I love the theatre of shows and the drama of couture.

Irene O'Brien Vintage Stylist TV Presenter Dublin

I love the individuality of personal style and the diverse beauty of eclectic gatherings.

I love to love what I am buying so much that I have visited it on numerous occasions prior to purchasing and find myself continuously peeking in the bag admiring it the entire way home.

I love to feel as excited putting a piece of clothing on the thirtieth time as I did the first.

I love to invest in what I have bought both financially and emotionally (yes, I said emotionally), knowing that this piece will remind me of the place I was when I bought it and the occasion that was special enough to command such a purchase.

Irene O'Brien Vintage Stylist TV Presenter Fashion

Of course not every purchase can be so momentous and it’s likely we will all tire of the ‘reliable’ attire in which we inevitably find ourselves in day-in, day-out (the self-employed will know all about the laptop-top) but shouldn’t we at least purchase with the idea of ‘for keeps’ and be mindful of what it is we’re actually buying?

In a time when the web is full of ‘outfits of the day’, tweets of ‘selfies’ and bombardment of social images; when young bloggers are so anxiously seeking profile that they are submitting looks to style sites on a daily basis in hope of  publication; when every occasion is a photo opportunity to show just how terribly cutting edge ones style is, I’m wondering this: where do all the old clothes go?

In a massive effort from all those trying to break the fashion world, the aim is to keep not just up-to-date (how very naff) but ahead of the curve/ edgy/ fierce, fashion is fast and love is quick. Once the tee/ shorts/ playsuit/ jelly shoes/ the list goes on/ are styled and shared on 20 different social networks, that puppy is all out of uses and bottom of the pile when it comes to respect and adoration. It’s on to the next and the cycle continues – the hits are quick and the feeling fleeting. The rebound affair if you will.

Irene O'Brien Vintage Sylist Fashion TV Presenter

But yes, I do love fashion. Of course trends are commercially driven and there’s folk who believe, as such, fashion is the very root of all evil, but not me. I get a kick out of it. I appreciate the art of fashion spreads. I love to observe how people style themselves by way of representation. I am fascinated by how tastes and culture can dictate such varied, exciting aesthetics. But the truth is it’s making me a bit uncomfortable.

If a self-styled fashion blogger feels the need to dress differently every day and wants to continue the to meet their self-imposed precedent, what becomes of the threads? My Mama used to always describe certain clothes as ‘disposable’ long before I heard any debate of sustainability – these were made cheaply, bought cheaply and cared for cheaply. They cost next to nothing and meant about the same. When Mama is observing a garment that’s giving her kicks, it’s due to the craftsmanship and how it’s ‘beautifully made’… both considerations given very little weight by the modern fashion hungry. And so it’s about trends, instant gratification and over-consumption. We’re creating ‘clothes mountains’ where all is discarded without thought (or in the case of the young broke fashion blogger, attempted to be resold online to create the readies for the next purchase – but really, how well will a pre-worn top, originally retailing at €6 and now down to €3, really do in the market?)

Irene O'Brien Vintage Fashion Stylist TV Presenter Style

There are people that often mock the very idea of’Vintage’ – ‘old clothes that someone else discarded and fools with more money than sense are paying for them!’ But surely what defines Vintage is not the idea of ‘old clothes’ but really great ‘old clothes’. Clothes that were made with incredible care using beautiful fabrics and intricate skills that have been all but forgotten on the high street; clothes that feel as great and prosperous now as they did when they were first bought well over five decades ago. Of course the history and romance adds hugely to my particular love affair but there’s no denying that their longevity is to be celebrating. Could we say the same about that basket of clothes that we bought in one  swift go last weekend? Will they be still enjoyed in all their glory even one decade down the line? I suppose we’d have to try and find them in one of the over-stuffed cupboards or figure out what every happened to them in the first place … but then again, are you bothered? Sure they were only a tenner.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely not immune to the trap of fast fashion. I have 100% bought in to trends and got giddy at the thought of having so many pieces I’d be channelling a new image every day for a week, all for the price of the one item I painstakingly saved for a year before. The thing is, the experience never leaves me feeling good in the long run. These clothes are the ones that fill black liner bags for recycling as they haven’t worn well enough to donate. These are the clothes I choose to paint in or wear to bed. Instead, it’s those pieces that I have properly fallen in love with, considered and planned for, that give me the most satisfaction as a fashion lover. It is the dress from seven years ago that I take out of the wardrobe with such joy and certainty every time I decide wear it, that each time is like the fist time.

Irene O'Brien Vintage Fashion Stylist TV Presenter

 So I need to remember that I really don’t want a quickie. I want long lasting love, the kind that, although it may not be forever, and we will likely eventually part ways, it will always leave a warm feeling in my tummy and flickers of memories that make me smile. Or perhaps photos of it that will make me laugh hysterically every time I see it (hey, caring about clothes does not make one immune to a screaming sartorial catastrophes).