Atheena Wilson is the spinner of words and a maven of prints and colors. I learnt the basics of fashion writing while being mentored by her and I couldn’t have asked for anyone better. With many-a- art and culture references that often go over my head, conversations with this woman is an engaging affair. As a self proclaimed skirt lover and mix and match guru, it is a pleasure for me to feature Atheena Wilson – Art and Design History student at Kingston University and Blogger at www.aninkline.com in the third edition of Style Recon on Babble Queen Diaries.
11 Style Recon Questions With Atheena Wilson
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what your days are like?
Well, hello my name is Atheena Wilson. Currently living in London, my mind’s racked by the course I dove into, Art and Design History. Many times, I take a break from my academia work and write a design and short fiction based blog (aninkline.com). Regarding how my days are, it’s similar to Cruella de Vil’s hair – bi-polar. Seven days of my week would comprise a lot of pavements that have to deal with my heavy footsteps, poor walls and doors constantly scrutinized by my colour fanatic eyes. I travel a lot and I am inspired by museums, galleries, of course, London’s architecture too, and when it rains I take comfort in a cosy vinyl store. Then there are the harsh Edgar Allan Poe days, where the curtains are closed, in the company of haunting piano music; I immerse myself in books, writing and illustrations.
How has your style changed in the last few years?
- I broke up with my pair of jeans
- My feet got less acquainted with anything ballerina shaped, in fact, it became snobbish and only wanted pointed toes.
- I constantly two time the colours: orange and yellow
- My ivory and nude coloured tops sporadically go through binary fission
- My obsession with prints will likely get me into a rehab, and even then I would dream of a striped strait-jacket
- On the contrary, I tied my hair up, and never let it down (now I have milkmaid braids and get teased for observing too many Frida Kahlo portraits)
- My clothes went beyond labels or how it matched up to fashion editorial magazines
- It becomes another art form I fell in love with
In a nutshell, I’ve embraced colours and prints adventurously and look like someone who’s the most reserved at the Mad Hatter’s tea party but still got something interesting to win that invite. Or maybe this thought is quite preposterous as Alice’s (forgive my references).
How would you define your personal style?
Now if I have to pull a string of adjectives, I wouldn’t. I would say it’s simplistic with one whimsical nut loose. But more importantly there is some nonchalance in it, I personally feel all the pieces of the puzzles don’t have to fit and when you wear clothes it’s an expression of how creatively twisted your brain nerves are. And yes it’s very biased; I am so partial to skirts and ostracize a lot of things such as sneakers and trousers.
Where do you love to shop from?
In Nigeria and India, one of my great past times are sitting at textile markets and sketching away patterns of skirts and jackets. The fun part is later trying to explain to the tailor how I want them stitched, especially with my tawdry looking sketches. Till now my favorited one piece is a red and green striped kente jacket that was tailored in a small matchstick shop in a Nigerian market. At London I am a major sucker for vintage stores, that’s where I bag a lot of my clothes. But when I need some fantastic retail therapy I can never resist COS (I still need my lucky discount), a good old shopping spree would be at River Island. May I say Hobbs is fantastic; it just pinches your pennies though. Yet vintage stores are the best, there isn’t an army of mannequins across London wearing similar clothes like in the case of commercial brands.
As an expert at mixing and matching pieces, how do you go about creating a versatile wardrobe?
For me wearing clothes is like art, it’s an interplay of textures, colours and cuts. I usually work backwards. Everyone has a different set of combinations. When I look at my wardrobe, I laugh, I have 50 skirts, two lonely pairs of trousers and a handful of tops. But whenever I shop for something, especially skirts I instantaneously think of how it can be styled in three different ways (different moods, venues and accessories) and finally what shoes it can be paired with. Thus when building a wardrobe I try to buy pieces that are eye popping but at the same time not too jarring. My current favourites are my orange Office sued pumps and COS galaxy print skirt. As ridiculous as this sounds, the way you organize your wardrobe makes a big difference. My mother taught me some of the greatest ways, and with a hint of OCD, my wardrobe and shoes are all colour- coordinated. I sometimes joke that my wardrobe looks like an ice cream pick and mix station. When it’s all laid out you can instantly experiment.
For more information contact my brilliantly talented mother: she’ll get you crying with her jewellery organization skills (Meanwhile I stick to a jewellery box with lots of drawers)
What is one thing you can never say no to- fashion wise?
A well-tailored optically explosive- printed pencil skirt (and yes high- waisted) and of course a pair of nude heels.
What do you think was a major style turning point for you?
When I moved to Kochi after my bachelor’s degree, there were so many set rules of what I could not wear or wear. Since I wasn’t skinny (I’m a royal size 12) or did not have a model’s pizzazz, I was apparently requested to keep it simple and stick to Indian wear, being fashionable was reserved for those who were naturally glamorous. How I dressed up was a part of my creative defiance and just a way to show that dressing up is not about standing out but just a reflection of how you also creatively think.
Do you have a go to fashion formula that never fails you? What is it?
From poetry, to design rules or even bears whose porridge was stolen, I live by the rule of three’s. I recently learned this trick on my birthday. I wore huge earrings that had asymmetrically placed gems, paired with a simple yellow ochre saree and an embroidered blouse colour coordinated with the earring.
Have one stunning eye catching piece, pair it with something well tailored or fitted, and the third piece should compliment either piece colour- wise (complimentary or contrast). Sounds super mathematical and boring, but when you have a bad day and your cerebrum has retired, I cheat with this formula and get away with it.
Oh yes, also have a face that says ‘I don’t give a squat’, they’re clothes, and they can be subjective.
How does your daily life dictate your fashion choices?
There are two things that dictate my fashion: the weather and how I instantly look like a foppish monkey after the 12th hour of the day. Since I wear skirts half of the time, either the tops are cropped or inserted. Moving around a lot sometimes leads to looking a little messy, especially when tucking in blouses. Invest in good hosiery and also belts to keep your skirts in a good place. And since I have to travel a lot, I always make it a point to wear good flats, in this case, pointed ones, not the ones that chafe you. Also, I’m always carrying my sketchbooks, thus I can’t carry beautiful sling bags, I stick to a chocolate brown tote bag or customized cloth bag with screen prints. I think there are some days you want to look a little elegant and away from hipster casual, so my investment in a pair of Dune kitten heels made a big difference, it totally changes the look of the ensemble. Also since the weather in London is so unpredictable, thus the lengths of my skirts were something that had to smartly purchased, something that would look good with or without pantyhose.
Who would you say are your biggest style inspirations?
Lisa Folawiyo is one of my biggest inspirations for how she exhausts and bewilders me with her print manipulation, Kate Middleton for impeccably staying classic and not making us yawn. And yes, Emma Watson, there’s some sense of intellectuality with her styling and I like the geometric experimentation on her couture.
What is one sartorial advice/tip that you’d like to give?
Never try too hard, look effortlessly comfortable. Someone may pull off stilettos-Victoria Beckham -but that doesn’t mean you have to, a bandeau top may be your cup of tea or not. Also never dress because you want to please everyone and strive on their compliments, wear clothes because you’re one of a kind, and you can see combinations others cannot. Fashion is not an imitation game.
Thank you so much Atheena! As an admirer of her fashion sense from day 1, it was a pleasure to get a look at her many avatars as well as crack her go to fashion formula and learn a bit about her shopping tactics. The wonderful photographs were expertly captured by Atheena’s friends Aditi Buch, Jad Jbara, Ektha YP and her father whenever they stepped out to explore something new in London. She would like to thank them for clicking a lot of candid shots of her when they were just having fun and going out!
You can see more of Atheena and her colorful world on instagram @atheenawilson
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