My Style: Louise Donegan

Portrait of Louise Donegan

Portrait: Sergio Kurhajec // Additional photo: Adam Katz Sinding — Le 21ème

What is the biggest mistake one can make when getting dressed?

Fast fashion; the clothes that are produced for single wear use. That is going to bite us all on the bottom one day. Also dress to please yourself, not others, because you cannot please everyone else.

Please describe your style in three words.

Gangsta Tilda Swinton.

Do you believe in role models?

Yes and no. It's wonderful to be inspired but harmful to idolise.

What are your favourite fabrics?

Soft, tactile, breathable fabrics that have the smallest environmental impact, such as organic cotton.

Are there any style combinations that you object to?

Not really, I just think it's important to dress appropriately for the task in hand. So don't wear stilettos to the gym and don't wear workout clothes to a wedding. Also, when what I'm doing is inhibited by what I'm wearing, there's a problem.

Which city has the best-dressed women?

The city I live in, New York. Women here know how to dress for all seasons.

Would you say that you are conservative or bold?

Conservative, but maybe I appear bold from the outside.

What are the rules in the way you dress?

I only cheat on black and white with champagne. But rules are made to be broken, aren't they?

Name one garment/accessory that you can never have enough of?

Well-cut black T-shirts. I also have shed loads of tiny gold seamless hoop ear rings.

Who taught you what you know about style?

My friends Steven Reider and Sarah Jay.

How do you select your clothing every morning?

In the morning I don my workout clothes which I will have organised the night before. After triathlon training, I walk the dog. When I come back after that, I pick out what I'm actually going to wear once I know how the weather is that day. If I have castings or auditions, I will dress appropriately for that. Sometimes we are given a brief. For a skin care commercial for example, I would wear a different outfit than if I were going to a high fashion designer. If I have a shoot I will wear something chic, simple and comfortable that I can change easily in and out of and take a cover up with me. Studios with air conditioning are freezing, so something cozy. Likewise, I may need to shield myself from the blazing hot sun if on location. If I am making artwork that day then it's going to be a jeans and T-shirt or jean shorts and tank kind of day. If I have to dash off to a meeting, a slick of lipstick and vintage Chanel can quickly take me from artist to a model/actor/business person quick as a flash. I rely on that rather more often than I should tell you.

Louise Donegan

What is your biggest regret?

The biggest fashion regret I have is not realising how impactful the fashion industry in general is on our environment. I wish I had woken up to that a long time ago. I wish all of us had.

The three essential things a woman should know about style are…

Behind the oil and paper production industries, the clothing industry comes in third place as being most responsible for polluting our planet. Shocker. Many designers are eco-friendly, sustainable and organic. Do your research. Dress for yourself, not for others. Do not prescribe to the stereotype of feminine beauty. We are all different, beautiful, and special. Embrace your uniqueness and the right to present yourself to the world however you wish. Also, do not be afraid to wear the same items again and again. It's okay.

Do you have any shopping rituals?

Well, I'm not needlessly discarding items I already own, but I made the affirmation this year that I would only purchase clothes that are eco-friendly or sustainably produced. I will not compromise my planet for style. No matter how lovely something makes me look, it's not worth messing up our planet for it.

Which new designers do you follow and why?

I love the designers featured on Amber Valletta's website Master and Muse. She has sourced some wonderful young and more established designers there that are eco and cool. I love Eileen Fisher and Vivian Westwood. And Reformation is great too. I adore my technical gear for triathlons and snowboarding, so my go to place is Patagonia. They have been using sustainable production methods for a really long time. They even have cute bikinis made out of recycled plastic bottles! I admire designers who do not compromise our planet for style. To know what a good designer is we have to know what design is. Design is purpose, planning, or intention that exists or is thought to exist behind an action, fact, or material object. I seek out design that has the purpose, plan and intention that I hold important. If a woman is interested in design, she should do the same.

Who is the most stylish person you have ever seen?

Michele Lamy, and this lady called Helen who walks dogs in my building.

What is the first thing you notice on a woman?

I probably notice her height first, then her attitude and her smile.

What are the most treasured items in your wardrobe?

I have this Japanese silk kimono my mother gave me. There are pictures of her holding me as a baby wearing it. I also have this cupro shirt dress by menswear designer Miguel Antoinne; it is very dramatic because it has a trail. I feel like a superhero when I wear it.

The one image that defined your approach to style...

The picture of the Aral Sea in 1970 and in 2014.

Which designer never fails to impress you?

Eileen Fisher. I do love Rick Owens designs aesthetically.

One article of clothing that a woman needs to pay close attention to is…

Bad underwear choices can spoil a lovely outfit. Also, her shoes. If you cannot stand or walk properly, you're going to look ridiculous.

Is comfort an enemy of style?

No. There is no need for it to be, but it can be.

Who would you like to recommend for My Style?

Sarah Jay, Lindsay Ellingson, Rachel Alexander, and Kenza Fourati.

The best words of advice you have ever heard?

"Working out is modern couture. No outfit is going to make you look or feel as good as having a fit body. Buy less clothes and go to the gym instead." — Rick Owens.

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