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'I want to celebrate and connect with life'

Psychologies’ image expert Mandy Lehto talks to yoga teacher Oona Corke about dressing with meaning and connection

by Psychologies

Oona Corke, how to look like yourself

Yoga therapist and teacher, and former model, 39-year-old Oona Corke, uses clothes and accessories to bring what she calls ‘an everyday sacredness’ into her life.

Her look is a fusion of the eco-conscious, the spiritual and the functional. ‘My work and life meld. Yoga is about allowing wellbeing to flourish,’ she says. ‘It’s about connection, but it doesn’t need to be so serious.’

On reflection, that’s her view on style, too. ‘I only wear things that have meaning – it’s not just leggings and t-shirts. Everything I have in my wardrobe means something. My family in India wear sacred cloth under their clothes every day to remind them of their connection to the divine,’ she says. ‘I’ve evolved my own take on that.’

She shows me a pair of indigo leggings, made from recycled plastic bottles. She also loves to match a citrus top with an Indian bolero from her grandmother. She often wears mala (meditation) beads, from her mother, who received them from her guru, or Rajasthani seed pearl earrings from her great-grandmother. ‘Or my prayer ring, which I touch throughout the day to remind myself I’m connected to something larger.’

Seven years ago, Oona’s first child died. ‘For two years, I didn’t look in a mirror. I just wanted to make myself invisible.’ She pulls out a bead-encrusted Matthew Williamson dress from her modelling days. It is about hope, she adds. ‘It brings together so many parts of my life – my modelling, my Anglo-Indian ancestry and the feeling of hopelessness after losing a child. The only thing I wanted when she died was stories of hope – I wanted to know there was something worth living for.’

Oona credits yoga with rebuilding her life and style as part of her healing process. ‘I want to be colourful now. I want to celebrate life. In that way, yoga is kind of like style. They’re both about drawing out what’s within, in a positive way.’

How to dress with meaning

  • Clothes need to move with you, not restrict you
  • Jeggings are great denim alternatives
  • Vintage and eco-friendly pieces can add significance to your wardrobe
  • Mix street-wear with vintage pieces
  • Seek out eco-friendly layering pieces, like leggings
  • Hold onto meaningful, beautiful pieces that make you smile inside
  • What accessory could remind you of ‘everyday sacredness’?

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

Photograph: Ki Price