Introducing Ciara Charteris, founder of I AM ARLA and Poldark actress. Ciara’s wardrobe is full of killer pieces that make her feel confident and alive. Read more to get to know Ciara and her must-have wardrobe pieces.
How would you describe your style?
As I get older I am definitely into being comfortable. As long as it’s a chic comfort, I’m here for it. When I say comfortable, I mean I’m feeling assertive, I’m feeling confident, and the clothes I wear make me feel good. That’s the kind of comfort I mean. I have an hourglass shape, so I love to wear things that are really nipped at the waist.
For me, comfort is about how I’m feeling. If I feel good in what I’m wearing, then that’s the comfortable kind of place that I want to be.
So if I’m going out with the girls, it’ll be anything from a cracking pair of high waisted trousers, which I love because I have really short legs so they help me look longer, and a nice top. Or I also love a fitted dress with some boots.
What is the one thing you would save from your wardrobe in a fire and why?
I have a really beautiful dress that I got when I was three and it’s from a niche brand in South Africa where this woman handmade beautiful gowns but for children. I still have it and I hope that I will be able to pass it on to my daughter one day. So I honestly think if I was in the middle of a fire I would grab that.
I really want to pass it on because I’m not sure you could get anything else like it. It’s cotton on top and sequined on the bottom. It looks like something you would see in a Cinderella cartoon!
What is your favourite ever preloved purchase and why?
I have this really beautiful Herve Leger bodycon dress that I picked up in a secondhand shop in Amsterdam. It’s a little black dress so it’s never going to go out of style. I just love that I picked it up randomly on a holiday and it has a story behind it. It’s bodycon and it makes me feel really sexy! It’s quite busty and it hugs my shape so I’ve definitely got to be feeling confident to wear it. It’s my go-to for festive parties. You can dress it up with whatever; boots or coats or jackets. You can wear it in so many different ways. I like that it packs a punch, but you can also mix it up and do whatever you want.
What is the one thing you wish you could tell your 16 year old self?
You don’t have to change who you are to fit in. When I was younger all I wanted to do was sing and dance and focus on school plays. I watched a lot of Friends and I always wanted to be like Jennifer Aniston and I also really wanted to be like my mum! So that’s how I used to cut my hair and how I used to dress.
So while everyone else was in Converse, skinny jeans and cool t-shirts by bands that I probably didn’t know, I was in knee-high boots and little skirts because I just wanted to be an adult. When I hit 16 I had a total change. I dyed my very blonde hair to dark brown, bought ripped jeans and started wearing crop tops and tie dye and tried to be cool.
Although it was really fun, I do look back and think, I did just completely change myself for no other reason except that I was trying to fit in to whatever it was I thought fitting in was. And it took me a while once I hit 18 to realise, I don’t have to do this to be happy!
If you could spend the day with one person, who and where would it be?
In all seriousness, it would be my other half, Nick. He is way more fashionable than me. I have learnt so much since being with him on how to shop more consciously and sustainably, how to shop with a 360 vision of your wardrobe and thinking about what you actually need versus what you want. I’ve learnt to have those key items, but also those really fun pieces. He’s introduced me to designers and told me what works with what. He’s got the patience to really look and be specific about when you put your money down and what you come home with.
We’re making a conscious effort as a couple to be sustainable in our clothing choices so we often resell our clothes, like on StyleSwap and will only buy new if we need it. In the last year, we haven’t bought from any fast-fashion outlets.