‘Art needs a focal point, so does an outfit’

In our latest How To Look Like yourself feature, image adviser Mandy Lehto talks to artist Paola Minekov about colour and conversation-starting accessories


'Art needs a focal point, so does an outfit'

Oscar Wilde once said: ‘One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art.’

Even those not inspired by trends will recognise the enduring relationship between art and style. But for Paola Minekov, 34, dressing is another canvas for her creative, idiosyncratic approach to art and life. 

As an artist, Paola is a self-confessed storyteller. ‘I love accessories,’ she says. ‘They’re my way of having fun and adding a narrative to my clothes.’ Paola has curated an enviable collection of jewellery, shoes and handbags that all have stories and memories attached. ‘My red bag was the first present from my husband after we got married,’ she says nostalgically. A jadestone flower necklace was the first piece she bought after moving to London. She pulls out a white string bag, made by her grandmother: ‘It’s falling apart now, but it’s so special.’

Accessories serve another purpose in Paola’s wardrobe, too: ‘Art needs a focal point. So does an outfit.’ Accessories can give it soul, or that little something unexpected. ‘I wear them to start conversations.’

As we talk more about painting, clues about her style emerge. ‘How I paint and dress depends on my mood, but there’s usually colour involved.’ Paola notes that society is lamentably devoid of colour. ‘For me, colour is life; each colour has its own energy. You won’t know how they affect you till you start playing with them.’

How to dress effortlessly

  • Know what suits you, but don’t getting stuck there. Good ruts are still ruts 
  • Curate your wardrobe as you find things. Wait for an occasion, and you’ll never find anything
  • Comfort is underrated
  • The most important things about your style are your smile and your attitude. Everything else is a bonus
  • If you’re terrified of colour, try using it in accessories
  • Try clothes on in shops you don’t usually go to
  • Play with colour, and the absence of colour. How does it change your mood?
  • Have a focal point in your outfit
  • Introduce accessories that invite conversations
  • Give yourself days off from style

For more about Mandy Lehto, go to mandylehto.com

Photograph: Ki Price