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Interview with Nuala McMenamin - Feminist Stylist

Interview with Nuala McMenamin - Feminist Stylist

I won't apologise for interviewing my friends because I gravitate towards awesome feminists with lots to say!


Speaking with Nuala always feels like extra permission to love yourself. When I am meeting her is the day that I am braver with my wardrobe because I feel that I tap into the fun effect of wow. She swears and wears golden boots and calls BS on a society that tell us that we can start loving ourselves when we achieve XY or Z. 


Who is Nuala McMenamin, the woman behind Adorn?

I hate filling these things out... where to begin... I'll start with my values - I believe they are Fun, Freedom and Fairness and this is how I navigate my life and what I hope to bring out in others. I am quite rebellious, always have been which is both a blessing and a curse but overall helps me approach things from a different perspective.

I am creative, my degree is in Graphic and Multimedia design, and I paint a little (and really should do more). I then moved from design to marketing, so I'm not from a traditional styling background - through fashion, which I initially saw as a disadvantage but now know it's a huge advantage - I'm not boxed in in my thinking, conditioned by fashion norms like colour and body shape...

I work in a completely different way which my clients find refreshing - I dismantle the elitist fashion barrier and make good personal style accessible to all. I consider myself an ambivert I am sociable and have a phenomenal network of friends and family around me but I need quiet, reflective time too.

Why did you decide to start it? What is the story behind it?

I've always loved beautiful things and dressing well - my other love is food and being a fuller-figured woman I felt my body was a barrier to me giving style advice - now I see it as a superpower as I know what it's like to be in a full figure body, I've been a UK size 22, I also know what it's like to be in a smaller body - I think I was a UK size 8 at my smallest and I still thought I was too big!

I worked with a career coach who helped me see that there were so many women who needed my help and would love to be able to work with a relatable stylist, at that moment the penny dropped and I completely knew I had something to offer. And the career coach soon became one of my first and best clients.

Personal Styling is no longer the reserve of high fashion and celebrity it's available for every woman. As we are more and more image-conscious than ever before, due to the rise of social media came the popularity of filters and aesthetic treatments - so we can look like filters! People consider their appearance more than ever. And sadly this is causing a lot of women to self reject if they don't fit the picture-perfect ideal we so frequently see in carefully curated social content. I exist to break that down so women of all shapes, sizes, and ages can tap into the power of their clothes and see what's available to them. As woman we are continually made feel less, we're too young, too old, and need expensive clothes, accessories, products, and tweakments to be complete, this is a fallacy, I like to think I open my client's eyes to this BS and reveal the system we're in, clients have said before - I help give them permission to dress in beautiful things, they've always wanted to try but didn't feel they could.

What is the biggest impact on what you do?

Helping women find joy in what they wear again!

What has been your biggest learning since you started?

How sore we are on our bodies as women. It's been eye-opening how no matter what shape or size we are we can always find flaws and are so mean to ourselves

What is the goal? The big vision of what you would like to achieve?

I want to help woman accept and express themselves through how they dress and enjoy what they wear - clothes should be fun!

And this is the feminist questionnaire identical for everyone

What is Feminism for you?

Saying No! to the insidious patriarchial conditioning we live under.

Equality and respect, tuning in to the phenomenal, unique powers we have as woman.

Which “everyday sexism” really bothers you?

Mansplaining - it drives me mad!

Do you remember when you start identifying as a Feminist and why?

I think I've always been feminist but didn't label it as such, I've never felt like I needed to conform to female norms but I'm also cognisant that I lived with internalised misogyny for years! I didn't recognise it until I started working with a career coach. I thought woman just made poor choices before I was aware of the patriarchial system that entirely works against us.

Who is your biggest feminist role model?

Without a doubt it's you! I am in awe of your work, you have taught me so much about myself and my internalised misogyny. I should shout out Sinead Sharkey too - the career coach I worked with that made me aware of the patriarchial system within organisations.

Other than you and Sinead, I think Tayrn Briumfit is very inspirational and more closely related to my work, her movie Embrace, highlighting the negative relationship most woman experience with their own body, is so powerful and should be mandatory viewing for every woman.

I've also recently discovered a woman Maud Gonne, an Irish republican revolutionary, suffragette, actress, and occultist. She led a phenomenally interesting life and very much bucked the expectation of women in her era, rebutting marriage proposals from the poet WB Yeats  - my mantra when I need it will be; be more Maud!

What is your favourite Feminist quote?

'Well behaved woman seldom make history' - Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. It's a bit basic bitch, I'm sure, but it lit me up years ago when I first heard it and it still does.

What is your proud feminist victory?

Whenever I work with a client who would have dressed to minimise and hide themselves - but find's acceptance of their body and finds absolute joy in dressing in a way that lights them up and gives them so much confidence. I believe this is a huge feminist victory!

What is your feminist recommendation?

  • Book:The Beauty Myth - Naomi Wolf
  • tv show: KIN - I don't know that it positions it's self as a feminist show but the female characters are so good!
  • Film: NYAD - the biopic telling the hugely inspirational story of open water swimmer Diana Nyad's record breaking swim. Resets the sociatal expectations on what woman can achieve and at what age.

What is your feminist call of action to whoever is reading?
There's only one you in this world - dress like you know it!

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