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Gaelic Girls in Dublin - Catelyn’s first impression of fashion in Dublin

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New York. London. Milan. These cities are all synonymous with fashion. And Paris? Don’t even get me started. Everyone knows that French women hold the title when it comes to the art of tres chic personal style. But Dublin, Ireland? Fashion Capital? Not exactly the first thing that comes to mind, right? Little did I know!

I was born into an Irish-American family in Pennsylvania and, as a child, I always wanted to be a fashion designer. I believe it probably stemmed from my love of all things Barbie. Not only was Barbie beautiful, but she had the most amazing collection of clothes. You could mix and match skirts and tops with high-heels, handbags, and jewelry. There was no shortage of good looks for Barbie.

As I got older, I still loved fashion but had replaced my penchant for Barbie with an obsession for glossy magazines – a proclivity I still hold today. From these “research” publications, I learned about fabrics, cut, and fit. However, I lived in a small town - a place where fashion would be best described as more bargain-basement than haute couture. I wanted to start designing but I needed some motivation. I moved to NYC three years ago to attend design school, but even that began to feel stale after a while.

The window of Brown Thomas department store
My mother, born and raised in Dublin, supported my ambitions and suggested I head abroad for some inspiration. She has many relatives still in and around Dublin and, throughout my life, has instilled in me such a sense of wonder and mystery around Ireland. I couldn’t wait to see where she grew up, but, I believed, there was no chance it would help me with my fashion studies. (I’ve seen all those shows on TV about Ireland and tweed just isn’t my thing). Clearly, I’d need something a little more sophistique. I had two places in mind: Ireland for family and France for fashion. Imagine my surprise (and delight) upon arriving in Dublin and not seeing one woman in anything tweed or plaid! Who knew I’d be diving into a sea of such well-clad Irish beauties?!

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As soon as I arrived in Dublin, I grabbed a cab for myself and my four suitcases and headed off to my new home. Whoever said New York has small apartments has obviously never seen this place – there’s one closet! And apparently, there will be three of us living here!

It wasn’t long before Maggie, the drunk, arrived. (Cute Uggs, Mags!) I could smell the booze off her across the room; although by the size of this place, that’s not saying much. Some mousy girl named Grace showed up shortly after, but she soon went off to bed. After unpacking one of my suitcases (seriously, the closet holds ONE case), I decided to do my research on this new discovery of ‘Irish style’ by hitting the streets of Dublin. I walked and walked for hours – I never noticed when it got dark – and I learned so many things.

Daytime dress here seems to cover a wide range of styles. From skinny jeans to shorts with tights, silk shirts to cashmere scarves, and ballet flats to knee-high boots, Dublin women have it covered. They know how to mix and match prints, textures, and trends and create the almost impossible radiant, but low-key effect. Even on a blustery, rainy day, these ladies looked refined, polished, and totally pulled together from head to toe.

In the evening, style shifts into high gear. While heels and hemlines seem to rise significantly, hair becomes fuller and shinier, natural makeup replaces perfect smoky eyes and a host of accessories are added to even the simplest of dresses. Clearly, Dublin women are not afraid to take on cold weather, rain, or cobble-stone streets. They will suffer for fashion – and I love them for that!

I’d like to say that there are two levels of fashion here in Dublin – dressy and dressier. However, that’s only scratching the surface. It’s deeper than that. It’s - dare I say it? - chic. These women can put together a head-to-toe ensemble without looking high-maintenance. They know how to follow trends, but make it their own – and that is the true art of style.

Brown Thomas, Grafton Street
In fact, the fashion world could learn a thing or two from Dublin women. Even my fellow Gaelic Girl, Grace, may want to take a lesson. She showed up at our room in an Aran sweater that she bought on QVC in some type of St. Paddy’s Day sale. Don’t get me wrong – I know there’s a lot of history behind those immensely thick “jumpers”, and who doesn’t love a good story attached to a purchase?

However, we’re not talking about a vintage Chanel bag here. C’mon Grace! It’s a bulky sweater and it’s not appropriate for ‘real-life’ wear. Tuck it away in your closet as a memento of your time in Ireland. Or better yet, give to your grandmother! I’ll admit the cream color is gorgeous against your skin, but let’s try something a little different, huh? Look around you – ideas are everywhere!

Here’s one suggestion: since you’re partial to mom, I mean high-waisted, jeans, how about pairing them with a creamy white silk blouse, a skinny patent leather red belt, a pair of suede wedge booties, and some of that gorgeous Newbridge silver we looked at? Tres chic, n’est pas?

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READ MORE:
Read more stories from the Gaelic Girls on IrishCentral


'Glee' show with leprechaun Damian McGinty a disgrace - Producer Ryan Murphy owes fellow Irish an apology


Did President John F Kennedy steal his inauguration speech? - VIDEO

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