This journalist and podcaster has a wardrobe that strikes the perfect balance between masculine and feminine
Monica Ainley has a blue velvet suit. Slim and elegantly tailored, the Rika two-piece cuts a striking figure on the streets of her adopted hometown Paris, especially when paired with a two-toned polo neck from the same Dutch brand Rika Studios.
Masculine (the silhouette) and feminine (all that lovely soft velvet) simultaneously, that suit is something of a rosetta stone when it comes to Ainley’s wider wardrobe, a study in contrasts that walks the line between French and American influences or the combination of Mango separates with lived-in Celine knitwear. Her biggest fashion influences are Caroline Bessette-Kennedy and Lauren Hutton, and you can see that style DNA in every pair of high-waisted jeans and crisp, oversized men’s shirt hanging up in her closet.
Take her everyday uniform, for example. Ainley’s style must-haves are a pair of straight leg jeans with an “oversized coat or blazer”, a “white shirt or T-shirt”, an “interesting scarf” and “a good leather bag.” She finishes off the look with “comfortable but cute booties” with a slight heel from Aeyede or Australian brand ByFar.
This is the kind of thing you might catch Ainley in on the streets of Paris, where the 30-year-old now lives after stints in London and, before that, in her native Canada. Ainley loves “the beauty and history everywhere you go,” of Paris. “I try to walk practically everywhere to take advantage of it,” she adds. “Luckily Paris is a very walkable city.” Especially in a pair of ByFar shoes.
Earlier this year, Ainley married her husband Marc de la Villardière at his family’s estate in the south of France. The dress was designed by Louise Trotter, the former creative director of Joseph, now leading the design team at Lacoste, and a close friend of Ainley’s. “It was a collaborative effort,” Ainley recalls, “in that I poured my heart out to hear about what I wanted at the beginning, but really it was Louise’s guidance and know-how that made the dress perfect for me.” The result was an unfussy ivory sheath with an off-the-shoulder neckline inspired by Audrey Hepburn and Bessette-Kennedy, again. “She just gets it, and me!” Ainley says.
Her wedding dress, just like her blue velvet suit and her uniform, is in line with Ainley’s 2019 style resolutions to be more considered when it comes to her clothes. She wants to “focus on how to wear things well, not how to acquire more things,” Ainley explains. “And always to keep an eye on supply chain ethics before allowing something into my closet.” Style resolutions so good, we just might pinch them for ourselves.
For more style inspiration, follow Monica on Instagram.
Photography Sandra Semburg
Words Hannah-Rose Yee