‘I don’t like rules – I like to do my own thing’

Image expert Mandy Lehto discusses bullying, wigs and the courage to dress like yourself with Jenny Hurren, co-founder of Out There Interiors


‘I don’t like rules – I like to do my own thing’

‘I don’t have one particular style,’ says Jenny Hurren, 32, co-founder of Out There Interiors. ‘I love so many things. The idea of sticking to one look feels limiting.’

Her eclectic look is a fusion of pieces she’s found on eBay, in charity and vintage shops and on the high street. She plays with the unexpected – both in her clothes and the way she chooses furnishings.

‘For example, I love ornate French beds, but I don’t want to subscribe to the whole look. So I’d team that bed with an industrial lamp. That gives me creative freedom to add quirky accents and the look still hangs together,’ she explains.

She does the same with her clothes, mixing a leopard print with something unexpected, like trainers. ‘The trainers ground the print,’ she adds. ‘Otherwise it can be a bit much, especially for daytime.’

Brightly coloured Mary-Jane shoes are another favourite. She mixes them with dresses in non-matching colours.

Jenny’s look has evolved from her strong sense of non-conformity. ‘I don’t like rules and regulations. I like to do my own thing.’

She tells me that she spent years conforming: ‘I was the most boringly dressed person you could imagine.’

In her youth, she had a unique style, but was bullied in her pre-teen years for her unusual clothing. ‘After the bullying, I turned drab with my clothes, and stayed like that for years,’ she reflects.

It was only on reaching a milestone birthday that Jenny chose to let her authentic style re-emerge. ‘On my 30th birthday, I dyed my hair pink and started experimenting with clothes again. It’s not that I didn’t care what people thought all of a sudden; I just cared differently. It was time to be true to myself.’

The pink hair was what Jenny calls ‘the catalyst’ in bringing about her style change. ‘That one big change brought so many positive compliments,’ she says. Soon after, she started experimenting with wigs. ‘My hair was getting damaged by the dye, so I bought a pink wig. It’s such a conversation magnet, and I’m always honest about it.’

Now she has three wigs in different colours. ‘It’s the easiest way to change your look – and it’s such fun!’ she points out.

The key to authentic style, she adds, is not taking things so seriously. ‘There’s just too much thinking going on. At the end of the day, it’s just clothing, it’s just hair. Everyone’s more stylish when they’re having fun.’

How not to conform

  • Shake things up with one noticeable change, then go from there
  • Add a piece to your outfit that’s fun and unexpected
  • Buy block colour shoes and mix them with a clashing dress or separates
  • Don’t buy matching shoes and bags – or matching anything
  • Mix strong print with something unexpected that’ll ‘ground’ it
  • Play with a wig for a night out, it’s an instant persona change
  • There are no mistakes; it’s only learning
  • Don’t overthink it – go with your intuition

For more about Mandy Lehto, go to mandylehto.com or read her blogs on LifeLabs

Photograph: Ki Price