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sytle icon RTE star Aine Lawlor insists she is no fashionista but says she tries to 'be elegant'

Áine Lawlor may be one of our most respected broadcasters — but she's also wowing with her TV style.

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'I never pay full price for designer fashion — it is just mad money,' says RTE Broadcaster Aine Lawlor.

'I never pay full price for designer fashion — it is just mad money,' says RTE Broadcaster Aine Lawlor.

'I never pay full price for designer fashion — it is just mad money,' says RTE Broadcaster Aine Lawlor.

She is one of Ireland's most-respected broadcasters, familiar to RTÉ viewers as a sharp-minded current affairs host.

But there's more to Áine Lawlor than serious news and politics - viewers with an eye for fashion have noticed she's also something of a style icon.

The host of The Week In Politics is admired for her effortless elegance as she takes Ireland's top politicians to task on the agenda-setting show.

Women make up a significant share of the viewing audience - and many of us who watch the show on Sundays admire how Áine's outfits are always on point.

Her look is a masterclass in sophisticated minimalism - with her high heels adding a bit of pizzazz.

Whether she's challenging Taoiseach Micheál Martin about Covid policy, or quizzing Tánaiste Leo Varadkar on pay rises for politicians, Áine's chic wardrobe choices mean she always looks poised and professional.

Yet she bats off any idea of herself as a fashionista, saying she's "stunned" to be highlighted for her sense of dress.

"I wouldn't have put myself down as one of the more stylish presenters in any way," says the radio and TV presenter, talking to Magazine+ on the phone from her home in Dublin.

"I'm not a fashionista, but I'm long enough in the tooth at this stage to know what suits me." adds the mother of four grown-up children, who lives in Dublin with RTÉ producer husband Ian Wilson.

"I have two daughters at home - Megan and Ella - who will tell me if anything doesn't work. At the moment, I have my runners on and I'm getting into my flip-flops soon. What I wear on The Week In Politics is a work uniform, and it's designed for telly."

Despite her modesty, it's clear Áine has a natural instinct for fashion, as she shares the secrets of dressing well for television.

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RTE Broadcaster Aine Lawlor.

RTE Broadcaster Aine Lawlor.

RTE Broadcaster Aine Lawlor.

"We all have to dress for work, in different ways," she points out. "With a show like The Week In Politics, you have to consider what your guests are wearing - if there are a number of women panellists on, and we're all wearing the same colour, I'd go and get changed."

She has a formula for dressing for TV. "It's very simple - it's a block colour of a dress I can put on quickly. By choosing dresses, I don't have to faff about with what piece will match with what. On Sundays, my head is full of my questions for guests, and it all has to happen very quickly.

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RTE Broadcaster Aine Lawlor.

RTE Broadcaster Aine Lawlor.

RTE Broadcaster Aine Lawlor.

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"I don't have time to be standing in front of my wardrobe thinking: 'Do I feel like this or that today?' or 'What does my bum look like in that?' and all the rest of it.

"It's colours that read clearly against the set and work with the background. You want to be seen against the background. For example, blues don't work with the new set, but navy colours do. Patterns can be distracting. The idea is the audience can see me, but not be looking at me."

After years of doing television, she's learned some standard style rules. "Wrap the primaries - you'll need a navy dress, a red dress, a floral one, and those are the basics. You can add or subtract on top of those, depending on where you go or what you're doing. With The Week In Politics, the key thing is to be as pleasing as you can be, without being distracting."

Áine is a particular admirer of luxury label Goat, a favourite choice of Kate Middleton and Gwyneth Paltrow - but only if she can nab a bargain at 60-70pc off.

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Áine chooses block colours and easy-to-wear dresses for TV work. Pictures: Steve Humphreys

Áine chooses block colours and easy-to-wear dresses for TV work. Pictures: Steve Humphreys

Áine chooses block colours and easy-to-wear dresses for TV work. Pictures: Steve Humphreys

She buys her clothes at discount rates online, only picking up a few, good quality pieces a year. "I never pay full price," she tells. "I can't remember the last time I did - actually, I do, and it was two years ago. Shop around for stuff on sale, otherwise it's mad the prices they look for."

She says she got into online shopping a decade ago when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and went through treatment.

"I buy a couple of good dresses a year and have a strict wardrobe rule: one piece in, one piece out. It prevents you buying anything unless you actually need it."

Her shoe collection is a particular point of envy, but Áine laughs out loud at the idea of her being a Carrie Bradshaw figure. "No, not at all. It's probably the angle of the shot, because I'm on a couch and you can see the shoes more."

She credits RTÉ's costume designer Catherine Manning with that signature look. "The high heels are Catherine, who is brilliant. Catherine says to wear the high heels and I choose ones with straps on them because I have weak ankles and I'm always terrified I'll fall over.

"Even in the standing shots we do for the promo, I'm there trying not to fall over. I have one foot braced behind the other to keep my legs from wobbling.

"I put a bit of contrasting colour into the shoes, because the dress is always so plain, the accessories give it a little lift. I love earrings too."

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Aine Lawlor  Photo: Gerry Mooney

Aine Lawlor Photo: Gerry Mooney

Aine Lawlor Photo: Gerry Mooney

Despite her inability to balance on heels, Áine says her comfort while wearing them is the main thing. "They're comfortable on my feet. You should be able to sit comfortably.

"If you're uncomfortable in anything, you're not going to look well."

Her own style crush is her British television counterpart Emily Maitlis on BBC.

"She has great style. It ticks a box, but it's not the centre of attention. She's cool, and she likes earrings as well. They provide colour around your face."

She also admires French first lady Brigitte Macron. "She is someone in public life who dresses very well, and it's very simple."

She notes that French women do fashion very well, and "there isn't such an age demarcation line."

Classic looks and quality purchases are where it's at for Áine, who turns 60 this summer.

"Frills and all the rest are great on children and young people, but they can look inappropriate otherwise. Just follow simple lines, nothing that's too tight, or too low."

Audience ratings reveal that it's Áine women switch over to on Sundays for the week's political news.

"A lot of women watch it for their political fix," she continues. "And a lot of older women. I'm always conscious of that part of the audience.

"The reality is, women will be noting your appearance a lot more than men will. And that's something they're entitled to do.

"So, you want to look well. I'm not fantastically good-looking or anything, and I never was, but I try to be elegant."

  • The Week In Politics airs Sundays at midday on RTÉ One

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