The Style Aficionado

Since launching her media career in the mid 2000s, Antonia O’Brien’s name has become synonymous with a seemingly endless portfolio of sartorial knowledge. As an acclaimed fashion journalist, stylist and television presenter, she certainly understands the significance of dressing stylishly. A self-confessed Sarah Haran devotee, we spoke to Antonia about the importance of investing in long-lasting, high quality pieces that work regardless of age or lifestyle. 

Women over 40 can sometimes feel anxious about 'getting it right' style-wise, and some claim to find it tricky to maintain the ideal balance between keeping things fresh and contemporary whilst remaining age-appropriate. What are your thoughts on this?

I think fashion and trends can be intimidating but style is for all ages. Firstly, it is important to know your shape and the colours that work for you, so start by keeping it simple. Investing in quality basics will give both your wardrobe and your style longevity: a blazer, well-cut trousers, a crisp white shirt, quality knitwear. Find someone who you feel offers real style inspiration and apply how she puts things together to your own wardrobe. I believe that style is for everyone to have fun with and enjoy, try not to take it too seriously and don't be afraid to experiment.

Your Instagram profile has the phrase 'unnatural blonde' in the bio. It’s often said that when you change your hair colour, it kick-starts the need for wardrobe overhaul. Why does hair colour play such an essential part in our overall look?

I think getting the colour and tone of your hair right is really important for your skin complexion and the clothes hanging in your wardrobe. Of course, if you are wanting to make a statement, then the bolder the better but be careful. It’s worth investing in your haircut and colour, find a stylist you trust (I have been seeing Mark Selley at Nicky Clarke and Mark Smith at John Frieda for years.) You wear your hair every day so if you can, you should invest in it!

Are there any particular women who inspire your fashion choices?

There's inspiration everywhere – it’s there every day on the streets of London, stylish shoppers, films that I love, and not forgetting my stylish friends! It's a real mix between what I see on the catwalk, on the red-carpet, what’s around me, and new looks that are featured in printed media; I'm old-fashioned like that, I love to flick through a paper magazine.

Handbags need to look good and work hard. What are the key aspects to consider when you’re researching your next purchase?

A fantastic handbag has to be both beautiful and functional, something that not only fits in with my style, but works with my lifestyle too. This can mean something small for an evening event, and then for daytime I need something that I can carry what feels like my entire office in it!

I adore Sarah Haran’s fresh colours and shapes, they allow me to wear a simple outfit and add the colour in with my handbag, jewellery, accessories and shoes. The quality of the leather is exceptional and that is what I like to invest in; quality materials and design. For me, the devil is in the detail and that is what I love about Sarah's eye for design and detail: the hardware, the tassels and the interior compartments that keep my life in order - she really has thought of everything.