I spoke to blogger Stephi LaReine about wearing what you want
And cliched style rules that need to die
Nothing about Stephi blends into the background. She dresses for herself, and says that what she wears is her “own form of expression”. She’s not one for caring about what “goes”, and believes in dressing up, even for lectures. Her curly hair is currently a dreamy, kaleidoscopic mixture of hot pink, peach, lilac and blue. She describes herself as “a rainbow-haired 21-year-old” who “gives a voice to anyone who dares to be different and inspire”.
I spoke to her about her blogging, her bold style and the fashion rules that need to be put to bed.Tell us about your blog.
The core subject is “being an individual”. I help them [by] introducing new brands and places to explore.
How do you find juggling your degree with blogging?
I’m currently in the final stretch of my degree in Chester doing Photography and Graphic Design – I am literally building my final degree show as we speak. [I started] the blog almost two years ago, so in that period I’ve learned a great deal about time management.
How long did it take for your blog to really take off?
I started StephiLaReine.com in May 2014, [though] it wasn’t until early August that year that my numbers went through the roof. I was being emailed daily with [offers of] collaborations, launches, tickets to Fashion Week, taking me all over the world. It all started with a post on maintaining pink hair, it’s the golden oldie everyone remembers me for. I’m still getting readers commenting on it every day.
How much time a day do you spend working on it?
I find myself spending roughly an hour or two blogging. I barely spend any time on Instagram, though, it is key I keep in touch with my readers’ demands. The blog will always the centre of everything I do.
How do you dress for lectures?
I never compromise my appearance even for a lecture, even though mine are all 9ams (!) and I spend a long time travelling. It’s always freezing here, so I rock up in chunky boots, and a big fur coat – I’m known for having an exotic coat. As for make-up, I’m always fully done up, as I often bounce off to brand meetings after lectures.My hair is all scrunched and curly, I’ll have eyeliner flicks on, and a striking lip. Anywhere can be your runway, and even if I look out of place among casual dressers in a lecture, I’m never bothered. Style and confidence is comfort and sanctuary.
Describe your style in one phrase
Rock and roll.
Do you think you dress for men, for women or for yourself?
I’ve always dressed for myself. There’s nothing wrong with dressing for someone else – my boyfriend is very happy with my style. Of course he would love to see me in clothes more tailored for his tastes – but dressing for myself is my go-to [style].
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I take a lot of inspiration from music – the vinyl I buy, or the current bands I’m seeing, and I love taking snippets from old musicians from the 60s, 70s and 80s. That’s what it seems like at the moment, anyway.
I find art influences me too, but more in statement pieces like coats, bags and shoes. I’ve been dressing a lot like a Mondrian painting – in reds, blues and yellow lately.
When did you start to find your own style?
I think I’ve always known I would dress this way, but my blog has certainly helped develop the eye for quality. My defining moment was when I was 14, when I was allowed to go out and shop for the first time. I was always patching, badging and customising clothes and adding gothic lace.
Then there was my scene kid phase which has mish-mashed with my current look: now, there’s a colourful grunge feel to it.
What did you think about fashion when you were younger?
When I was little, I didn’t fit in. Everyone else wore pretty things their mums picked out, whereas I’d layer up collars with dungarees and tights with white socks on top. It was all very colourful. A lot of what I wear now often has a childlike element – maybe they’re things I would have loved to have worn when I was small.
Do you plan outfits or just pick things on the day?
The unpredictable weather limits me a little, but I’ll try to have an idea or two of an outfit the night before. But acting on impulse on the day is part of the excitement that comes with fashion.
Where do you normally buy your clothes from?
I honestly couldn’t say I stick to a shop, or even a handful of shops. I’m a big browser and can fly out of shops in minutes after scoping out all the pieces, which is handy. I really believe in supporting designers, so I’m investing more in better pieces from designers like Zandra Rhodes or Charlotte Olympia. But I do love shops like Long Tall Sally, Boden, Missguided and ASOS. I am always searching on ASOS.
What about make-up – what do you wear day-to-day?
As a northerner I’m partial to a big brow: I think it’s so empowering and striking on a woman. Bold brows give the face a flattering shape, so I tend to swear by thicker bushier brows. I usually team this with a dark glittery eye. I am bringing copper back to my routine a lot more – I wore it for years as it made the blue in my eyes pop! I’m rarely seen without a cat eye flick. I keep the face very fresh and dewy looking – always with a brush of highlight, and slight cheek and jaw contour – and finish with a bright red or dark nude pink lipstick. I’ve stuck to my routine for years.
What outfit do you feel most confident in?
I’m partial to a faux fur coat and some pointy boots. I feel sassy when I wear it and it’s really glamorous. I’ll always work in a shimmery dress or ripped knee jeans.
When did you decide to dye your hair pink?
People ask me about my hair every day! When I was about seven years old, I accidentally died it pink. It was meant to be red for Red Nose Day, and I spent weeks trying to get it out. Throughout my teens it was often pink – I often got into trouble for it at school. In college I had a pink fringe, followed by a Cruella DeVil half-and-half head of pink and purple. I’ve always had pink some way or another.
It’s really easy to maintain and I like to have fun with it. I don’t style my hair at all, I just let it air dry and dye it every once in a while. Some of the dyes I use last up to five months, some only a few weeks. Every 2-3 weeks I grab new pieces of hair and dye it with a new colour in a different brightness, so it’s never the same really.
What do you think about the trend for pink hair?
I’ve noticed a lot more people going for either pastels or hot pinks though [increasingly] it’s more silvers and opal tones. I think it’s becoming increasingly popular because celebrities are trying it out. Society is growing more accepting of colourful hair. It makes me so happy to see that it’s a lot more accepted in the workplace too so there are no restrictions on personality or character.
You’re from Liverpool, where do you like to go out?
I love rock’n’roll so I’ll be at gigs, supporting local bands in The Jacaranda, The East Village Arts Club, dancing on tables in Mojo, occasionally Heebie Jeebies, or the Alma De Cuba.
Do you follow any traditional ‘style rules’? Should there be rules?
There’s only one rule I follow – and that’s to accentuate only one part of my body at a time. It’s usually my arms, back or legs. I’m a firm believer in less is more. If I’m wearing a deep V-neck bodycon dress that’s also backless, I’ll always wear a kimono or fur coat with it too.
Really, though, there shouldn’t be rules. I hate the idea of someone telling you what you can or cannot wear. If you’ve found a style that you’re confident in, you shouldn’t be judged for it.
Here are a few cliched style rules. Tell me what you think of them.
- “Never wear clashing colours.” This one needs to get in the sea. The best styles are about being daring. Personally I love clashing colours – green and blue, pink and orange, navy and black. The reason why designers slay the catwalk is because they don’t care for rules.
- “You should only ever have one of your boobs or legs on show.” I do actually tend to follow this one. The formula for good dressing is selecting the best parts of your body to work with. But, if a dress means you can show off your killer legs and chest, then I don’t see a reason why rules can’t be broken.
- “It’s heavy eyes or heavy lips – never both.” This beauty rule needs to be put to bed. I’m an advocate of the heavy eye and heavy lip, I find it very striking. It really does depend on your own style of make-up: I wear a heavier eye because I have dark eyebrows and want everything to fit my pale complexion. I’ve seen so many amazing combinations of dark lips and dark eyes, it’s great for nights out with dark dresses. But maybe that’s just my inner goth creeping out!
- “Don’t mix silver and gold jewellery.” Silver and gold are a fantastic mixture. A lot of festival trends actually enforce wearing a mixture of both, styled with black or white. I don’t think I’ve ever done a full gold or full silver look, the metals combined can be worked into so many looks. I
- “Avoid horizontal stripes.” I heard someone say this one the other day, and literally threw my head into my hands. A lot of my wardrobe is stripes, and I think they’re flattering. Stripes are a classic: they’re so re-workable. People should focus on the stripe itself instead of the fashion rule. It’s taken me years to find the perfect horizontal stripe, but once you find yours, you never go back!
- “Always keep your socks hidden,” I love having socks showing – it adds a bit of personality to my outfit and there’s a childlike charm to it. We’re seeing the revival of socks. Bands like Peace are bringing back white socks with black jeans in men’s fashion, and I’m quite happy to show my socks to the world!
- “Everything must match.” The best fashion decisions are the ones we least expect. Not everything in your wardrobe matches, and my best outfits are throw-togethers where I had no intention of matching things together. I love styling up bold block colours with metallics, for example.
- “Don’t over-do it with accessories.” Because my dress sense can be flamboyant I never tend to overdo jewellery – I’ll change things up with a scarf to compliment the ensemble. But from the wrists down, I love a good watch and I cover my fingers in trinkets, bracelets and festival wristbands.Each day is pretty different to the next.