The Suitcase Diaries with Aoife Dunican

Welcome to part two of our summer holiday series in which the always impeccably dressed and coiffured image consultant, personal shopper, corporate stylist and speaker Aoife Dunican, aka The Style Bob, takes us on a grand tour of Paris, New York and the Dolomites, while sharing her travel wardrobe and skincare staples.

What did childhood holidays typically involve?
Salthill with all my family, cousins and a few friends would join in too. We’d pack the roof rack with everything from pressure cookers to fishing rods to go on our two-week adventure. I’ve great memories of swimming in Leisureland followed by coleslaw and chips which we thought was very classy. The highlight was dancing to live music at the beach hotel every night. Being the youngest meant you were brought everywhere and it was a great opportunity to get dressed up as if we were going to the Galway Ritz! We’d ask for orange in wine glasses. 
What do you remember most about your first holiday abroad?
At 16 I went from Westmeath to NYC with two days’ notice, when my two sisters surprised me at the school with the news that I was going to the Big Apple. I’d only ever been as far as Dublin. I remember staring at the buildings and then being brought to Bloomingdale’s to try on loads of clothes. I totally fell in love with one skirt that I knew was out of my reach at $55 but I twirled in it for an hour before handing it back to the sales assistant. I then headed off to lunch feeling very sadwith my two sisters – who then handed me a package of THE SKIRT! I was so happy and if that skirt could talk, it would have many a tale to tell!

Where was your last holiday?
My last holiday was Paris in November with two girlfriends as part of my 50th celebration. We had drinks at the Hotel Lutetia, dinner and dancing until all hours at Brasserie Thoumieux. We walked from Luxembourg Gardens all the way to see the rejuvenation of Notre Dame, visited the beautiful Fondation Louis Vuitton museum. We shopped in Bon Marche and the food hall beside it, La Grande Épicerie de Paris, at the Zadig and Voltaire outlet, and the top floor of Printemps for its preloved section.

Money no object, where would you travel to tomorrow and with whom?
I’ve a thing about mountain ranges ever since I visited Yosemite, California. I stayed in a tent on my honeymoon (threat of bears!) 26 years ago, but I’d like to go back with Mr Bob and do it in a five-star hotel. Although it probably wouldn’t be half as much fun. 

Your Out of Office is on, but how long does it typically take you to switch off from work?
When you’re self employed, you don’t. My mind is always on, even when I’m people-watching and taking in colours. 

Have you ever had a holiday romance?
Yes, and I thought I was going to set up a taverna in Greece! My strongest memory was phoning my mother and her going “A flash in the pan is all it is!” and she was right. 
You’ve a suitcase checked in but worry it might go astray. Underwear aside: what three daywear staples do you pack into hand luggage just in case your suitcase is delayed?

My jewellery box. It’s how I always glam up a look and it can change so many looks. A kaftan that can be both a dress and a cover-up. My Sydney Birkenstocks. 
What are your three skincare travel staples? Dr Sam Bunting Flawless Daily Sunscreen SPF50 for face. I won’t stand in the sun for a split second without SPF. CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser, and Caudalie Vinoperfect Glycolic Peel Mask.

And three makeup bag essentials?
YSL Bronzer that I wear not only on the face but also as eye shadow. Westman Atelier Baby Cheeks Blush. Victoria Beckham Beauty Posh Spice lipstick in ‘Fire’.

How do you pass the time on trains, planes and automobiles?
I love the How to Own the Room podcast, it has really helped me in my role as a professional speaker. Diary of a CEO podcast, especially his [Steven Bartlett’s] recent one with entrepreneur Mo Gawdat – who says “80pc of illness is linked to one thing”. Lots of nuggets in there about dealing with stress. 

Most stylish place you’ve ever visited?
Portofino and St Tropez. Both for the same reason of people watching. Loved Capri too. They’re all always best visited in May or September. 
Where in the world has surprised you the most?
The Dolomites in early autumn. Mr Bob booked us into the stunning Adler Hotel in Ortisei for a special anniversary. We took the ski lift up and there in front of us was the magnificent, dramatic vertical and pale-coloured peaks in a variety of distinctive sculptural forms. It gets me every time. 
Has anywhere disappointed you?
An all-inclusive resort in the middle of nowhere in Greece, with vicious wild dogs outside it so it drove me crazy not been able to walk anywhere for two weeks. Poor Mr Bob had to listen to me moaning a lot that holiday. 

Favourite apps or gadgets for travel? – I’m the boring Irish person looking at the weather! Also London Tube map app.

Anything else to declare, that you simply must travel with?
My teabags and hot water bottle. 

How do you maintain your fabulous bob while on holidays?
The same way as I do in Ireland. My hairdresser says I should just scrunch it and let it do its thing naturally. I cannot do this and will always bring my five brushes and hair dryer – I’m the Stylebob after all! 

Beach bum or culture vulture?
A bit of both

Sunrise or sunset?

Most memorable meal you’ve had on holiday and why, and have you ever tried to recreate it at home or find similar dish in a restaurant?
Baked peaches in wine in California’s Sonoma Valley back in 1998. Delia Smith’s baked peaches in Marsala recipe was a fantastic contender back at home. 

Have you ever missed a flight or gotten spectacularly lost?
No, but I’ve taken trains and buses in the wrong direction.
Dead or alive, which three celebrity companions would you travel with?
A trip on the Orient Express with Liam Ó Maonlaí – we could have the chats and then he could play the piano at the bar. Brian Ferry to sing Carrickfergus with Liam and then he could tell me all about his Studio 54 days in New York. The late Iris Apfel to talk about her love of colour and individuality as we look out at the terrific landscapes. Liam and Brian could always keep each other entertained about music while Iris and I discussed style…!

Aoife's Resort Pick

Follow Aoife @thestylebob