Style Rules: Jess Colivet
Style Rules: Jess Colivet

Style Rules: Jess Colivet

Personal stylist and content creator Jess Colivet, 57, is based in Kildare, Ireland, and her Instagram feed is full of great fashion inspiration. After completing a postgraduate degree at Trinity and a trend forecasting course at the London College of Style, Jess started her Instagram journey in 2020 and has been charting her style ever since. From her investment pieces and wardrobe management to her favourite Instagram follows, here are the style rules she lives by.

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My style is classic with a contemporary twist and is ever evolving.

I love timeless silhouettes and tailoring. I gravitate towards sophistication with a sense of elegance. I also love playing with contemporary styles and materials and bringing in bright colours whenever I can. To me, contemporary style is about incorporating current trends while still maintaining a sense of timelessness. It’s hard not to be influenced by current trends, but I try to approach them in a way that feels organic to my own style. 

The secret to great style is wearing what makes you feel happy and confident.

Your style should be an extension of your personality and the version of yourself that you want to share with the world. To me, there is nothing more stylish than someone wearing their clothes with confidence. Life is too short to wear anything other than what makes you happy.

Don’t let age define your style.

This is central to any success I have had in the styling industry, because it allowed me to stay true to my style and not let something as impermanent as age define or limit my stylistic expression. Age is only a number.

Find your go-to brands.

There are so, so many fashion brands to love at the moment, but there are a few that I find myself always going back to. Roisin Linnane, also based in Kildare, is one of my favourites and she has been since she launched in 2002. She effortlessly combines classic and contemporary. I love her trousers, dresses and asymmetrical tops, as they have such a timeless quality. Victoria Beckham is another one of my favourites – I love all her sharp, simple styles. They are such special pieces. Natan is a Belgium-based contemporary womenswear label. I have a few pieces of theirs that I love. Their white wide leg canvas trousers are a part of my go-to uniform – I wear them on repeat. I love Mantù, too, and their beautifully sophisticated and understated looks. They are an Italian company that create timeless silhouettes for a polished classic look. I am also constantly reaching for Eleventy tailored blazers and coats. They create such classic pieces that go with everything and elevate any look. 

When it comes to the high street, you can’t beat COS.

So many of my wardrobe staples are from here. It does really great-quality fashion and their pieces are truly timeless, something I always look for to ensure that what I buy will stand the test of time.

Make sure you have a few go-to outfit formulas.

When I get dressed in the morning, I start with the weather forecast and a neutral base; these are always my first steps in building an outfit. Each day gives us the opportunity to show up as someone new – whether it's statement earrings or classic pearls, nothing gives me more joy than being able to reinvent an outfit and make it something new. I am always falling back in love with the things in my wardrobe by pairing them with different accessories. One thing that I always keep on is my Boodles Raindance ring. Fine jewellery like this is understated, elegant and always effortlessly chic.

Follow trends that feel authentic to your own style and personality.

I decide which trends to incorporate into my wardrobe based on what's already there. In the case of wide-leg trousers, these have been a wardrobe staple of mine for the past decade. To follow this trend, I simply reach into my wardrobe and pull out a pair of flares. To me this is the purpose of investing in good pieces, they last forever and invariably come back into fashion again and again. Metallics is a trend that works for me. I love an all-metallic look but through accessories – like a pair of statement silver earrings or gold high heels – which can give a nod to the trends in a quiet way that still stays true to you.

Invest in a capsule wardrobe.

A coat or blazer, jeans, a white shirt, a cashmere sweater and good comfortable footwear. These pieces create the beginnings of a capsule that will stand the test of time. A classic white shirt paired with jeans is a go-to of mine, it never lets me down. It's as comfortable as it is chic. A cashmere sweater is always such a luxury, and its versatility makes it a worthwhile investment. Plus, the warmth of a cashmere sweater is unparalleled. 

A good coat is the ultimate investment buy.

Having a selection of high-quality coats in your wardrobe adds a touch of elegance to any look and communicates your style and personality to the world. In the Irish and UK climate, a coat isn't just seasonal, you’ll wear one nearly every day to keep you warm and dry. It is so worth it to have a few different styles that you look forward to wearing. 

Invest in a personal stylist and go through your wardrobe with them.

Remember there are going to be so many pieces in your wardrobe that you once loved. It's important to try and find that love again. It's easy to forget what we actually have in our wardrobes, so I really encourage people to go back through and see what they have to work with. From there it is easy to add a few new pieces that can re-energise the old and make it feel new and exciting again.

Clever storage helps you to keep tabs on everything.

I rotate seasonal pieces and I make a special effort to carefully store them when they are not in use. It is important to look after the items you have in your wardrobe – investment pieces give back to us as much as we give to them. I store my clothes by category – all knits together, all trousers together and so on. Before storing my clothes, I also make sure to do any necessary upkeep like deballing cashmere and knit pieces, and mending any tears or holes my pieces may have acquired. I use narrow velvet hangers to maximise what I can fit in, and I am very careful with what I hang. I store my shoes in their boxes which keeps them free from dust, moisture, sunlight and from getting crushed by other pairs. 

There are a couple of pieces on my wishlist.

Top is an Hermès Birkin bag – it is very aspirational but something that I would treasure for years and be so delighted to hand down to my daughters one day. I know that no matter how long I would have it in my closet it would never fail to bring me immense joy. Another piece on my wishlist is a Colin Burke Maureen Sweater, as these are such special pieces. Taking a classic Irish staple and revolutionising it, Colin Burke's creations bring a contemporary modern feel to the treasured traditional Aran knit. I love the drama of the puff sleeve on the Maureen, and I know it would quickly become a closet staple. 

As a stylist, I am on my feet all day, so comfy footwear is key.

I have a pair of Robert Clergerie boots that I bought three years ago, and I just love them so much. After having them for a month, I bought another pair as soon as they went on sale. I can never forfeit comfort for style, and these boots give me both. I also love their versatility and I can wear them with anything, and I do.

The piece I wear on repeat is my Anya Hindmarch bag.

I bought it six years ago and each day I love it more and more. I’ve had it repaired and I store it and look after it very carefully. What I love most about her bags is their functionality and the intricate planning of the inside of the bags – they have a pocket for anything and everything you might want with you. The level of engineering and creativity in each of her bags make them incredibly special. 

Consider the impact of every purchase you make.

The concept of sustainability is everywhere in the world of fashion, but it gets thrown around too often without actually being practised. When advising clients on purchases, I always ask them to name at least five occasions where they can see themselves wearing any given piece. It is really important in this day and age to make conscious purchases that we know will last us for years to come. I am a big fan of reworking my outfits and re-wearing items that I love. 

Always have the number of a good tailor in your back pocket.

It allows you to reinvent the things you own by changing a hemline, a button or a silhouette – you’ll be surprised how much you can transform something you no longer love. I recently met a friend who was wearing a Maria Grachvogel jumpsuit – the cape had been transformed into a necktie giving the piece a completely new, contemporary look.

I like to live by the mantra ‘buy better, buy less’.

I do my very best to make conscious purchases that I not only love but can see myself wearing time and time again. When I am deciding whether or not to buy something I ask myself the same question that I ask my clients, can I think of at least five occasions in which I could wear it, if the answer is yes I know it is a purchase I can happily stand behind. 

My most recent fashion purchase was a coat.

It’s a collaboration between Cecilie Bahnsen and Mackintosh, and it was literally a love-at-first-sight moment. I had been on the lookout for something similar for at least five years. When I saw it, I knew we were perfect for each other. I was rushing to a meeting, so I asked the shop assistant at Brown Thomas to put it on hold for me. As soon as the meeting ended, I rushed back and it's been magic ever since. Fortunately, it rains often in Ireland, so it gets frequent wear. I am not a believer in saving special pieces for an occasion. If you have it, wear it and love it. I wear this coat as often as I can because it is so special. I love everything about it, the big balloon sleeves, the oversized A-line silhouette and the ruched silk overlay at the back. I think you can tell I'm obsessed!

Something that has remained as special now as the day I bought,

I have to mention my Zimmerman dress. I bought it about five years ago, and it never ceases to amaze me how wonderful this piece makes me feel. Once again, I don’t think we should limit ourselves to only wearing special pieces on special occasions, so I try to wear this masterpiece as often as I can. Failing that, it woud have to be anything by the 2nd Skin Co, an incredible Spanish brand, that I am guilty of buying on repeat. Their pieces are just stunning and tailored to perfection. I love the balance of elegance and drama that they achieve in each and every one of their creations. 

Someone I really admire is Tory Burch.

In interiors, fashion and her encouragement of young female entrepreneurs there is so much to respect about her. I also love her personal style, too – she transforms classic silhouettes into modern and exciting pieces through playful prints and vibrant pops of colour, and she always brings excitement to the pieces she wears and creates. Louise Kennedy is also a firm favourite. She wears and creates timeless pieces that are exquisitely made, using beautiful fabrics. She really exudes sophistication in her personal style. 

Instagram is always a great source of inspiration.

Giovanna Battaglia Engelbert is great, effortlessly cool and her style is a blend of vibrant, playful elegance and sophistication. As the creative director of Swarovski, her jewellery collection is second to none. It is so fun to see the modernity and ingenuity she brings to whatever she does. I also love Simona Bertolotto. She’s classic, cool and contemporary. I love how playful her looks are and I could see myself wearing any of her looks. Caroline Cook is another stylist I love. I find her fashion choices unique and I love the creativity she brings to her looks. Fiona Leahy, the creator of Fiona Leahy Designs is another favourite of mine. I have been following her work for a long time now, and I am constantly in awe of her tablescapes and the attention to detail she brings to her projects. 

Follow @JessColivet


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