Lydia Okello’s wardrobe is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get. Her ability to perfectly mis-match colours and garments never ceases to amaze me. The 21-year-old fashion merchandising student’s blog, Style Is Style, is a mix of personal style shots with inspirational editorial shoots. She’s quite sweet herself.
What was your first favourite outfit as a kid?
My mom sewed a lot of my clothing as a kid, and I remember having a large floral print dress with matching hair piece (either a scrunchy or hat) that I couldn’t wait to wear on Sundays to church when I was four. I think I loved it so much because a) it was matching and b) it was very, very girly. I think all of the pieces have been donated by now, so somewhere there is a kid wearing a 90′s dress that used to be mine!
Do you have similar taste in clothing now?
I actually find my self reverting back to my early childhood wardrobe. I had many dresses, and lots of girly, frilly things. Nowadays I look for the same elements in pieces for my wardrobe. You will very seldom see me in pants, I am hopelessly devoted to being pantless for eternity.
Tell us a story about the garment or accessory you love most.
One of my very favourite pieces (and it’s very hard to choose) is a floral print, scalloped neckline 80′s dress that I thrifted back in Grade 10. At the time, I was just beginning to sort of develop my style, and I was always on the lookout for 50′s inspired pieces at the local thrift store. I found this dress and I nearly had a heart attack! The print, the shape, the fact that it had a tulle underskirt… It seemed like a dream dress come true! I think at the time it didn’t actually completely fit properly, but I bought it anyway. I had debated converting it into a strapless dress, but luckily I was too lazy to actually do it. The scalloped details are actually my favorite part of the dress now! One of the reasons I love this particular dress so much is that I always feel good in it. When I went on a whirlwind trip to New York Fashion Week in the spring of 2010, I wore it, so now it also has really amazing memories attached to it too. It’s my “happy” dress!
Lydia’s favourite dress.
How do you think your style has changed since you started blogging in 2008?
I feel like since I started blogging I have a more defined sense of my personal style. When I started, there were a lot of bloggers who I admired, but I felt like I wasn’t “cool” enough to dress as uniquely as they did. Over time, I’ve started taking risks and dressing for myself, instead of dressing to blend in or fulfill some sort of prescribed mode of what I’m “supposed” to wear. I think I have more fun getting dressed now! Every day is a chance to play a different character or escape to another time.
Your outfits are always colourful and poppy, even in the winter.
I have always, always loved color. I think I like color so much because I feel it contrasts nicely with my skin tone and it’s just so happy! I love sunshine and warmth, so color helps to bring some of that in the wintertime. Also, I have a bit of a theatrical personality, so over-the-top brightness feels more like me than a very neutral palette. My favourite colour is lapis or royal blue. I wish more things came in this color! I can’t explain it, but that shade of blue makes me feel very joyous. It’s rich, vibrant, and a feast for the eyes. I also really love rich shades of yellow and I’m currently having a fling with rust and pumpkin orange.
A dress in Lydia’s favourite colour, royal blue.
What’s a “style rule” you disagree with?
A style rule I disagree with is: people who are curvy shouldn’t wear horizontal stripes. Stripes are very dependent on size, so I feel like banning curvier people from ever wearing stripes is actually kind of silly. The right silhouette with the right width of stripes can still be flattering, despite this “rule.”
Where are your favourite places to shop in Vancouver?
H&M: Fast fashion at it’s best. The quality is pretty decent here, and when they have sales things are super cheap. Front & Company: A consignment and retail store on Main. They have both vintage and new clothes for women and men, alongside housewares, accessories and books. It’s immaculately curated, and they have some of the most beautiful window displays I’ve ever seen! I’m always inspired when I visit Front & Co. Used Clothing: A vintage shop on Granville Street. They have a chill atmosphere and decent pricing. They have really great selection too; I just bought a leopard-print faux fur collar that makes me looks like a nouveau riche grandma.
Who are your top ten style icons?
1. Chloe Sevigny: She is always eclectic, stylish and daring. I hope that as I get a little older, I can manage to look as youthful (but not trashy) as Chloe does. She seems to have no fear when getting dressed, which I admire.
2. Alexa Chung: Purveyor of British witty street style, her high/low mixes are both effortless and inspiring. She always looks comfortable, too. I wish I had her wardrobe!
3. The cast of 42nd Street, my favorite old musical: The wardrobe in this movie made me almost weep. There are so many rompers!!! Collared blouses, and old school glamour. Gorgeous!
4. Marchesa Casati: Another fearless dresser. The Marchesa did many a crazy thing for fashion (I think she wore an electric dress to dinner once, and was known to have live animals as part of her outfits). She was definitely on the wild side, but her devotion to creating and living her fantasies is incredibly inspiring. It reminds me to be more fearless and dramatic.
5. Vintage Pinups: I love the sauciness of the girls in the painting of Elvgren and Vargas. They are sexy but not vulgar, something that I think is missing from modern day starlets. I like cheekiness, and pinups always have it in spades!
6. Louise Brooks: Her bob and thick eyeliner are makeup and beauty inspirations of me. I even had a bob like hers for a bit.
7. Marilyn Monroe: Another sexy lady with a delightfully womanly figure. She is impossibly intriguing, and the original Sex Icon. I think the fact that she was a platinum blonde makes me love her even more. I’ve always had a thing for blondes.
8. Calivintage: My first real blog crush, Erin is one the most stylish girls I know! Vintage inspired, I love every outfit. She can even rock a pair of trousers like no one’s business. I love that she rocks short hair and still looks uber-feminine, too. I was lucky enough to meet her, and she’s just as cool and sweet in real life as she is on her blog.
9. Hannah Metz: Hannah is basically a dream woman! Scarlet-haired and possessing perhaps the largest and most coveted vintage wardrobe, her blog is fodder for inspiration. Her photos make me wish I lived in New York so I could have lovely tea dates with her.
10. MitziCocoa: I heart MitziCocoa! She is my blogger bestie. We were roommates in New York, and I was happy to discover she lives close to me, on Vancouver Island. Not only is she stylish (think pinup mixed with 1960′s babes), she is the perfect shopping/hanging out/life buddy. I am so glad to have her in my life.
interview by Stephanie Fereiro
photography from Style Is Style