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Clinch Women in the Know: Allison Bornstein

Allison Bornstein is a New York-based stylist and all-round tastemaker whose classic yet elevated style is a breath of fresh air in a sea of same. This month, she joins us for our Clinch Women in the Know series and shares her musings on pillars of style, advice to live by, and her tips for curating your own sustainable yet iconic wardrobe. 

What does style mean to you?
To me, style is more about how you feel than how you look. When I dress my clients, one of my first questions is always, “How do you feel?” because I think it is so important to feel confident and strong and powerful in what you wear. I believe that fashion is a wellness tool and the way that you look impacts how you feel and vice versa.

How would you describe your own style?
My style is really classic but with a ‘70s twist. I love basic pieces like denim and t-shirts, but I like to infuse my look with some glamour by mixing in silky tie-neck blouses, double breasted blazers and luxurious textures.

What’s one piece of style advice you live by?
Less is more! You don’t need a lot of clothes to have a full wardrobe. In fact, I think that to create a consistent and iconic wardrobe you should be repeating pieces!

Which item from your wardrobe do you get the most wear out of?
I have a double-breasted ACNE blazer that I throw on over everything. It is a little oversized and boxy but I find that it just adds a cool factor to whatever I’m wearing – be it a silk slip dress or a t-shirt and jeans.

What do you consider your most prized investment?
My Chanel handbag. I had saved up for it for a while and it was a proud moment for me when I purchased it. I still wear it almost every day and I will never get tired of it because it is so classic.

"To me, style is more about how you feel than how you look... I believe that fashion is a wellness tool and the way that you look impacts how you feel and vice versa."

What are some of your tips for curating a sustainable wardrobe?
Buy less and buy smarter. I think when you are considering a new purchase you need to ask yourself: How will I wear it? When would I wear this over something else that I already have in my closet? Can I style it for multiple seasons? I think people are really good at shopping but not so good at styling (which is where I come in!). I think we often purchase an item and wear it only one way and then feel a little limited. I think my strength is my ability to re-style pieces and show clients how they can get more use out of what they already own.

What are some of the tips you run through in your one-on-one styling sessions?
It is funny; a lot of women will have a tonne of clothes but still feel like they have nothing to wear because they only style each piece one way. I like to work with them to mix things up and maybe try combinations they haven’t considered. Usually it’s nothing too crazy, but just having another set of eyes can really help you to see things in a new way. When they show me a piece that “doesn't work” my first question is usually “Well, what did you try it with?” and then we can figure out why one combo didn’t work but another will. For me, it is important to explain why a look works or doesn’t work so then the client and continue to apply that when I am not there.

When you have an hour all to yourself without distraction, how do you spend your time?
I love researching and my favourite way to interact with fashion is to see how women are actually wearing clothes in their daily life. I love to people watch and really understand how women are shopping, what they are buying and how they are styling it.

I think when you are considering a new purchase you need to ask yourself: How will I wear it? When would I wear this over something else that I already have in my closet? Can I style it for multiple seasons? 

What’s the most impactful podcast you’ve recently listened to?
I like to listen to podcasts when I commute or get ready in the morning and usually, I am looking for something uplifting or inspiring so I really love Second Life and The Bright Side.

Who is your favourite artist?
I just got an amazing piece of artwork by Jessalyn Brooks and it is incredible. She does such amazing work with colour.

What influences, people, places or otherwise, have shaped who you are today?
My family has really influenced who I am today. I am fortunate enough to have parents who are so supportive of what I do and so proud of me. My mum has always let me be who I am. When I was young I was obsessed with clothing and would always want to dress myself for school. She would let me wear the craziest outfits to school (for example, a tutu over jeans or pigtails with wire weaved in them so they would stick out like Pippi Longstocking!). I think by doing that she really showed me that there is no wrong answer when it comes to fashion. You can wear what feels good and what makes you happy!

Where do you look for inspiration?
I look to real women. I love street style Instagram [posts] because I like to see the way that clothes are actually worn. The way that they move and the way that real people style them. I like magazines, of course, but, to me, I am more inspired by the way that clothes are worn in life as opposed to one still image.

What is one change you have recently made in your life to help our planet and environment?
My business is encouraging women to shop their closets and buy less. I think by showing women how to wear what they have, I am promoting reusing and recycling.