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By Jenny Brownlees

HLN chatted with Renia, the North East based fashion maverick whose daily outfits inspire her 86,000 Instagram followers on how to wear the latest trends with effortless ease. She loves a print, an of-the-moment accessory and is – by her own admission – handbag obsessed. Beyond her killer outfits, she is firmly anti-ageism and is working to advocate for women over fifty within the fashion industry. Her daily looks perfectly demonstrate that it’s possible to look stylish and enjoy fashion at any age — helping to break down societies rigid and outdated rules on age-appropriate dressing for women.

Tell us a little bit about yourself…

I’m Renia Jazdzyk, a 54-year-old fashion creative based in the North East. I moved here from Poland fifteen years ago and started my blog and Instagram at the end of 2016. My audience grew organically and now blogging is my full-time career, which has lead me to work with brands on influencer marketing and collaborations. I love that documenting my daily outfits allows me to share my passion and creativity with other people, as I’ve always been interested in fashion. Even as a young child I loved dressing up, experimenting and having fun with my clothes. My mother was exactly the same, so I think it’s something I’ve inherited from her!

What lead you to start your blog?

It was actually my family that inspired me to start an Instagram account and blog documenting my outfits. Ven’s Wife Style is a nod to my husband — even now many of my photos are taken by my husband or my daughter. Both my blog and Instagram started as a hobby and has grown from there — gaining a following has meant I’ve made a wonderful community of like-minded people online. I’ve met so many amazing, creative people through blogging and absolutely love what I do! My Instagram is a kind of manifesto that fashion can inspire and fascinate, regardless of age. I want to show people that at age 50 and beyond, you can still have an appetite for fashion and enjoy wearing the latest trends. It’s wonderful to show people that just because you enter a particular stage of life, things don’t have to stop being interesting and intriguing. In fact, I think later life is the perfect time for women to focus on themselves and their own needs. I believe fashion is for everyone, and for women of all ages. We do not disappear from the face of the earth when we get older, despite the picture society often depicts. I want to fight the stereotype that mature women should give up their passions, ambitions and right to feel and look good just because they hit a certain age.

We couldn’t agree more! How would you describe your own style?

I think it’s a combination of a classic look with a modern twist. I like to pair unique pieces with classic items, adding in elements from current trends. I feel my style has been a work in progress for years, and now I feel I’m finally at the point where I know what my needs are, what I like and what looks good on me. For many years I worked in court as a probation officer. Fashion was present in my life, even then, but my outfits were more masculine to fit with the job — it was more about suits and trousers. Now, whilst I still love to feature masculine elements in my outfits, I combine them with different silhouettes and much more colour.  I still like being surprised by fashion and the things I choose to wear. I do look to trends, but I also experiment a lot and try new things — that’s what gives me the most satisfaction when creating an outfit.

Society loves to dictate how a woman should dress and what she should wear, particularly surrounding age, do you have any fashion rules you dismiss or like to break?  

I don’t think there are any items that women over 50 shouldn’t wear. It all comes down to what we believe we look good in and what we feel comfortable in. I’m personally self-conscious about my legs — so I don’t wear miniskirts or very short shorts as I don’t feel comfortable in them. I believe that to look good you actually need to feel good in what you are wearing. You could be in the most beautiful designer clothes but if you don’t feel good it can easily knock your confidence. It’s about finding the compromise between what looks best on you and what’s going to give you the most confidence. In terms of women’s representation in fashion, I am seeing more mature women appear in runway shows and in fashion and beauty campaigns, however we are still not fully present. I hope that diversity in fashion will keep expanding, we are so ready for it. I believe when things change and everyone is represented, it will revolutionise both the fashion and beauty industry.

What do you enjoy about being based in the North East?

Newcastle is a wonderfully vibrant and unique place. It has its own personality; which I feel empowers you to be yourself. It’s a city that perfectly combines the old and new. On one hand you have castles and beautiful historical buildings, juxtaposed with modern buildings like the Sage and cool contemporary cafes, bars and restaurants. It constantly inspires me and in a way, my style echoes the city — I love mixing timeless classics with new modern trends. Since I moved here I feel I have become more confident — I’m keener to wear colour, mix patterns, am not afraid to experiment and try new things. 

Can you tell us more about what running your fashion blogging and Instagram entails? Is there a typical day?

In the beginning blogging and Instagram was just a hobby, but now I work and collaborate with many different brands — I love it and get so much enjoyment and satisfaction from my work. I can’t imagine doing anything else. My day usually starts with working my way through emails and discussing future projects. I plan every aspect of this and then prepare to shoot the looks required. I am constantly working on photos and creating and uploading content in-between this, too. My favourite part of the job is getting to know new people who share my love of fashion and discussing outfits and trends with my followers. I have met a lot of people via Instagram who are now close friends, and we usually get to meet up during fashion week – in this way, social media can be such a positive platform to connect people. Looking forward, I’d simply love to continue to do what I’m doing right now, and hope people continue to enjoy it! I have had some wonderful moments, like being invited to Paris by H&M to see their studio collection and attending a Victoria Beckham show – an absolute dream come true! 

What advice would you give to someone starting an Instagram of their own style?

The best thing to do is to be yourself. If you are passionate about something, whether it’s fashion, beauty or interior design don’t be afraid to show your love for what you do. People appreciate when someone is truly passionate and seeing that would be enough to make them want to follow.

You are now many people’s style inspiration –where do you get your inspiration from?

I think everything and everyone can be an inspiration. I look to street style, the catwalk shows, magazines, as well as other bloggers and influencers. I do also love to look to celebrities like Tilda Swinton, she mixes classic pieces with masculine elements in such a beautiful way. I admire the consistency of her style and the way in which she emphasises her personal beauty through her look.

Do you have any advice for readers who are perhaps feeling a bit lost in the style department, or want to try new trends but don’t know where to start?

I am always experimenting with fashion, and believe in order to develop our own fashion sense we need to experiment with clothes, learn what works for us and makes us feel good about ourselves. My tips would be to try on dozens of clothes, even those that you aren’t sure of or that aren’t in line what you usually buy. This way will you find out what works for you and you may even be pleasantly surprised by an item you might have previously dismissed. I would suggest mixing clothes from high street stores with more expensive items, this helps create outfits that are truly unique. I love to do this myself, and find now that many high street items look much more expensive that they actually are. I also believe every outfit can be spiced up by unique accessories, these are also an easy way to try a new colour of trend without a costly commitment. I’d also say don’t be afraid of colours or prints. They can give you and your outfit a bit of energy — even a single colourful element can change your whole outfit. I like a pop of pink or yellow, especially during the summer months. I’m very excited that animal prints are back in fashion, they’re a major trend that work in both summer and fall. Go wild and look for a tiger or leopard print to mix and match together — don’t be afraid.

How do you decide what to wear each day, do you plan ahead or see how the mood takes you?

It all depends on the weather and how I feel on that particular day. My go-to outfit is jeans, a white shirt and blazer, which I then add to with some fun and colourful accessories. I think every woman should own a quality version of these three items, then it becomes easier to build from there. Similarly, a cashmere knit, trench coat, statement jewellery, one luxury handbag and pair of luxury shoes are great staple items that are worth spending a little more on. They are investment pieces that you can wear over and over again, and will never go out of style. This summer, I’m looking forward to wearing tailored shorts, linen suits (in light grey and tapioca), puffy-sleeved dresses and summer sliders. Accessory-wise, I will be looking for anything with long fringing.

Which are your favourite stores to shop in in the North East?

I love Flannels, their new store in Newcastle City Centre is amazing. I also love to shop in Fenwick, they have a great range of designers available. My favourite high-end labels to look out for are Bottega Veneta, Loewe, JW Anderson, Acne Studio, Jacquemus, Prada, Balenciaga. I then shop Zara, Mango and H&M for high street bargains. When it comes to beauty products I tend to buy them from my favourite beauty store, Space NK Apothecary on Grainger Street.

Where do you head to when shopping online?

I mainly shop online at Net a Porter, Matches Fashion, Flannels, Luisa Via Roma and Farfetch. I often look for sales or special codes to snag a bargain. Luisa Via Roma regularly has 40% off items, even from the newest collections. At a mid-range price, my online favourites are Elleme, Demelier, COS, Arket and House of Sunny.

Do you have a favourite item that you own?

I love my bags and shoes. I’m a big fan of Bottega Veneta, their bags are probably my favourite right now. I just bought my first pair of Chanel dad sandals and I’m absolutely obsessed with them.

Your beauty style is equally stunning. Do you have any favourite beauty brands?

My go-to beauty brands are Bobbi Brown, Khiel’s, By Terry, Rodial, Filorga and Dr Brandt.

Could you let us in on your favourite places in the North East that you’re excited to visit post-lockdown?

I love the coast here, Trow Quarry at South Shields is a personal favourite spot.

In terms of restaurants, I love Cook House,  Hjem, Naked Deli, Riley’s Fish Shack, Kith & KinKiln and Zucchini Pasta Bar for lunch and dinner, so am looking forward to getting back to them all.

My favourite cafés are Café Enna in Hexham and Proven Goods Co, both of which I’ll be heading to ASAP!

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