“When you stop dressing for others and start doing it for yourself, that is when you’ll express your true personal style.”
Do you know that moment in which you meet someone for the first time and you suddenly feel extremely self conscious and intimidated? If I am to be honest, that’s how I felt when I first met Ioana. She’s effortlessly stylish & sexy, self confident, smart and witty – basically everything I want to be when I grow up. What struck me first was her long, dark, sensual hair, her feminine features were highlighted with some barely-there makeup and she was wearing a shell tied around her neck as a choker. That accessory was so simple, yet so ingenious – I remember wondering why I never thought of that. Besides drooling over her outfits (internally, of course), I also discovered that she’s an amazing writer and that she’s smart & witty as hell. I’m going to stop here though, as this is starting to sound a hell of a lot like the love letter of a fangirl or as if I’m trying to sell Ioana.
My point is, I believe Ioana is a role model. She works in an industry few of us have the courage to tip our toes into if we do not fit their beauty standards. Ioana doesn’t. And she’s been reminded, or better said, damned for it not once by the industry’s influentials, however she’s graciously stepped all over their critiques and made a name for herself, unapologetically so. She’s living, breathing proof that just because you do not fit within a certain stereotype, you do not need to give up on your passions or become a victim and put on a show of self pity. We might need to fight for what we want a little more than those who do adhere to the “standard”, however I guess we know by now that there’s no rest for the wicked. And we’re cool with that.
As I’ve said in the beginning, besides being a style maven/goddess, Ioana is also an incredible writer. She asked me a few questions as well and you can find the interview on mauvert.com
People claim only skinny women can be stylish – what do you think?
That’s what society is forcing us into believing. But you cannot downsize the concept of style to runway snapshots in which beautiful clothes are worn by young, slender models. In real life, we are not 2D walking images. I’ve learned that style is more than the clothes we choose to wear as daily ensembles. It’s in the way we gaze, shake hands, walk, talk, wear our perfume, etc So I think that really anyone, regardless of age, weight, nationality or skin colour can be stylish.
2. How would you define a stylish person?
I find that the most stylish people are those who catch my eye as a whole – not because of something in particular, like a bag or a pair of shoes, but because whatever they’re wearing suits them so well that it makes me curious to want to get to know them, speak to them, find out their stories. Consequently, I think that personal style has a lot to do with knowing oneself and wearing whatever makes one feel comfortable and confident.
3. Heavier women are generally encouraged to wear dark, baggy clothes. How do you find the courage/confidence to break that stereotype in order to dress and feel sexy?
I learn the rules and then I break them. Throughout the years, I’ve read tones of recommendations, how to-s, what to wear according to your body shape and other things such, in order to have the confidence that I am in the know and in control of my own style game. Yet I am not a typology. My body is unique and so is my face, that’s why I don’t believe that all rules should apply to everyone. I strongly believe that lighter colors complement my complexion or that I can wear something irreverently transparent without being vulgar, even though these are not safe choices at all. Practice is key – I think that trying things in the mirror at home when you’re all by yourself and being your own honest judge can go a long way.
4. Were you always this self confident or did you have times when you didn’t quite like your body or what people said affected you? (If you were ever bullied or judged for your style or body shape – tell us more about it and how you got over it)
I am quite the sensitive type and always pay attention to the tone of voice and to the way people look at me when we interact. It affects me terribly to get that feeling that they’re judging me while they’re smiling to my face and you can be sure that it will ruin my mood. There were times when I refused to get out for days because I felt like I had nothing to wear (ie everything I put on made me look fat & repulsive). But then I somehow worked myself out of this vicious circle with the help & support of some very close people. I proved to myself and those around me that I can be so willed and lose incredible weight without surgery or any other intervention. So the famous bullying & public body shaming episode that the renowned stylist Ovidiu Buta staged for me last year found me in a period when I was confident enough not be torn down by a venomous remark. I responded in my own diplomatic way and proceeded to wearing sports trousers and whatever the hell I wanted. I think I gained people’s respect by being honest to them and to myself.
5. Do you think women should wear the clothes that flatter their body shape or they should wear what they like, regardless of the way it looks on them?
I think everyone is free to wear what they like, as long as it makes them feel good. If you’re wearing something that you know doesn’t look good on you, it will stay in the back of your mind and it will eventually make you feel uncomfortable which will subsequently show. Whenever I feel like this is the scenario, I let go of whatever gives me this horrible feeling and go for something that’s absolutely safe and boring and gets me through the day sain. Yet most of the times, my inner devilish style persona instigates me into composing outfits that are complete provocative head turners – which is when I have the most fun.
What would your advice be for someone who is struggling to find the confidence to express their personal style because of body image issues?
If the only thing that’s keeping you from being that superb impersonation of nowadays Coco Chanel or any other style icon you fancy is those extra pounds, boost yourself into losing them. See how that works for you. Does smaller size clothing actually make the difference or is the issue deeper? Because from what I’ve seen, most women (skinny and plus size alike) don’t actually have the guts to wear things that they like because they’re afraid of being judged. I have super slender girlfriends who won’t wear a certain necklace or a pair of jeans because they’re afraid of what people will say. And this, I think, is a question of mentality upon which we all have to reflect. When you stop dressing for others and start doing it for yourself, that is when you’ll express your true personal style.
7. What is your favourite accessory or item of clothing?
I’m mad about jewelry, although I don’t believe that it should only consist of expensive gems. I’m always on the lookout for that special something that will give a twist to my outfit – like hair adornments which are my absolute weakness. There are times when I feel romantic and wear organic things that I find in nature – flowers, shells, small olive branches, but then I also like to play with really sharp brooches or tie pins that bring a little touch of unexpected masculinity to my otherwise girly self. I’ve got used to my accessories being conversation starters. They’ve brought me quite a few friends.
8. Give us 3 style tips for curvy ladies.
Don’t wear lingerie that’s too tight. It’s better not to wear knickers at all than to have them make those unpleasant shapes under a tight skirt or dress (because I have nothing against tight skirts & dresses, obviously 😀 ).
You can always conquer your audience by being well mannered and gracious, even if your silhouette is more resplendent than that of a ballerina.
You don’t have to cover yourself up from head to toe. We all have our assets, so why not show them? It could be a really curvy bottom under a flattering dress or a pair of gorgeous ankles put in the spotlight by a fantastic pair of stilettos. I for one love a little bare shoulder, which I think is a universally beautiful style trick that anyone can pull off.
What is the sexiest thing a woman can do/wear/be? What about a man?
I am very drawn by gestuality and one of the first things that catches my eye is the way women flirt with their hands. I have a soft spot for graceful fingers and beautiful, simple manicure. With men, I love a fresh haircut. It gives me an irrepressible desire of running my fingers through that freshly cut hair on the back of their neck.