Welcome to Style Stories, where we celebrate the style and multi-dimensional nature of inspiring women over 40
London born Curator and Director of the Museum of the Home in London, Sonia Solicari (pictured centre,) would like to be remembered as “kind and a bit daring.” Her layered personal style evokes her Italian heritage with a dash of decadence and love of bold jewellery, as well as a more pragmatic English spirit.
Her style effortlessly dances from home to wardrobe, in a rich and inspired mix and match aesthetic, with influences ranging from Vivien Leigh in Gone with the Wind (whom her daughter is named after,) to the Tenement Museum in New York, with more than a soupçon of conga dancing English eccentricity.
What is your style story?
Mostly, I love mixing different fashion periods, and half my clothes are vintage. I’m always drawn to velvet and sparkly lurex. I also love fancy dress, my favourite fashion moment was stumbling across a closing down sale at a Fancy Dress shop. I came away with an armful, including a sparkly striped military style top with gold tasselled lapels. If I could dress like anyone, it would be Liza Minelli in Cabaret.
How has your style evolved?
Every so often I decide I’ve reached an age when I should be more chic, with a capsule wardrobe.
But I look at all the stuff I’ve acquired over the years and decide to keep my eclectic look – both in the home with its antique furniture and plenty of velvet – and my wardrobe and costume jewellery collection.
Likewise, I still love the same classic perfumes, such as Guerlain’s Mitsouko or L’heure Bleue, and Frederic Malle Portrait of a Lady
One of my favourite things is this little theatre – a discarded velveteen perfume display stand that my grandfather found at a department store, and my mother used to play with as a child. I still have it on display in my home.
I’m probably less adventurous than I was in my twenties and thirties. I used to wear a lot more
layered jewellery and accessories – but having children and disentangling chubby baby hands from strings of pearls has dictated a more pared down look – but I do feel the excitement of experimentation returning post lockdown
Your thoughts on mid-life style…
I can’t wear heels like I used to. Boots are the answer – ideally by Vivienne Westwood.
I haven’t shaved my armpits for a couple of years – I find that I don’t care so much about beauty
norms. I do find myself thinking more about energy levels now I’m over 40 though.
Has your confidence increased as you become older and wiser?
I keep thinking of the lyrics to the Beatles’ ‘Help’ – about youthful confidence and needing more
assurance as you get older. In some ways I feel wiser as I get older and in other ways, a lot more
insecure – it’s the paradox of ageing.
Your Favourite life advice?
You’ll feel better in the morning. I’d say this works 75% of the time which is a pretty good success
rate for any aphorism.
Do you love what you do?
I’m passionate about Museums and the joy they can bring – but also the challenges they help us toconfront. The best bit is working with so many creative and inspiring people.
Any career highlights?
Reopening the Museum of the Home following a major redevelopment – with a new vision and mission ‘to reveal and rethink the ways we live in order to live better together’.
How do you stay focussed?
I’m not sure I am always focussed but I do have a vision so it usually comes together from the chaos.
How do you stay inspired?
I love watching old films. I was most recently inspired by the bohemian interiors in Performance, 1970 – and Anita Pallenberg’s huge amethyst cabochon ring!
Has your confidence at work changed as you’ve gotten older?
I’ve got more comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. There’s always going to be challenges and it’s not always about fixing things.
What do you wear for work?
Like many people I’m struggling to get back into my ‘in real life’ work clothes. I wear a lot of Old Town for work – especially days when I need to be a bit more practical, and statement jewellery for talks and events.
How do you relax?
Rummaging in junk shops, markets and antique shops.
A swim in the sea at Cromer in Norfolk is one of my favourite places to relax. I love British coastal towns and Cromer is one of the best –it’s quite unassuming. I’m a fairweather swimmer though – you won’t find me in the water on NewYears Day!
Do you enjoy cooking?
I hate cooking but my comfort food is pasta with a simple tomato sauce – using a family recipe!
Do you meditate?
Yes, I do meditate. I took a course back in 2019 and was given a personal mantra to work with. I
definitely fall into the trap though of feeling too busy to take the time, but when I get into it I
mediate for twenty minutes twice a day!
What do you do for fun?
Visit museums – museums are my work and leisure. I especially love New York for the Museums – The Tenement Museum is incredible.
Dancing style – any signature dance moves?
Definitely the Conga, I like to lead!
La Rosa in Whitby
Favourite works of art…
Sotileza (subtlety), c 1928 by Francis Picabia. I was blown away when I first saw this in the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art back in the 1990s. It was how I saw the world as a young woman – it still is!
Pina Bausch’s Viktor. I cried when I saw that at Sadlers Wells. I was on my own, so I really let go!
A bit of Pilates and a jog round the park
The book Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter is my favourite. The film, The Great Beauty by Paulo Sorrentino is great for the crazy parties! Dr Zhivago – for Julie Christie, and of course Cabaret – for Liza Minelli.
I’ve been enjoying the Succession box set – uncomfortable viewing but such a great script. I also love old episodes of Prime Suspect for the amazing Helen Mirrren.
The Museum of the Home in London has re-opened, and is open Tuesday-Sunday 10.00-17.00
If you’re ready to explore your modern mid-life INSIDE OUT STYLE IDENTITY, then lets chat! Book a complimentary style session here.
Lots of love, xoxo Aleksandra