'I live in a rural area, so I have to go further afield to get something for a special occasion. I suppose the ideal place to go shopping is Dublin because it has all the shops."
Katie Dempsey, 20, from Ballyadams, Co Laois, is a full-time student, self-confessed shopaholic and devoted fashionista. Her obstacles to style, including distance and budget, are eclipsed by her vehement need to reconcile her girlie side with her not so girlie sporting life.
The best way to explain this contrast when it comes to style is by Katie's choice of college course -- Sports Science and Exercise GAA with PR and Communications -- at IT Carlow.
"I'm all for comfort, so I wouldn't be into high fashion, because I'm in college and my lifestyle is running around basically," she tells me. "With the Sports Science, I have to wear tracksuits most of the time. We get fined €2 in college if we don't wear our college coaching gear. I bring a top and jeans with me in a bag, so I can change afterwards, because I hate walking around college looking like a boy," she exclaims, barely drawing breath.
Katie loves fashion and so when she gets the opportunity, she goes all out. "Any chance I get to dress up, I do and I love accessorising," she says. "I love Karen Millen, so for a special occasion I love shopping there or in Coast." She then ponders for a moment before adding: "I do love boutiques too."
For a more unique outcome, Katie often visits some local boutiques. "There are a few boutiques I like locally," she says. "Amber Sky, a boutique in Carlow run by Tanyia Deane, is great.
"Tanyia could look at you and know what will suit you, whereas if you go into a normal high-street shop, you can be lost. I like multi-functional clothes, like a nice dress that you can also throw a pair of jeans under."
This multi-functional approach to clothing is key for a busy student like Katie, who volunteers with Dublin PR firm Fleishman Hillard and teaches a circuit-training class for local women in Ballyadams.
"I love Vivienne Westwood," she says. "She's really cool and risky. She's kind of crazy. It's what I'd go for if I ever found myself on the red carpet or something," Katie tells me of her aspirations toward high-fashion buys, but for the moment, at least, she is keeping very much to the high street.
"I love Warehouse, too, Topshop, River Island," Katie continues, beginning to giggle at her own lack of brand loyalty. "They're kind of reliable. Sometimes you can go into boutiques and there is nothing. It depends on the season."
Katie is a proud member of Ireland's vast Penneys posse. "I go to Penneys all the time," she says. "I'm a typical student, in that I do have a budget, so I don't have a lot of money to buy clothes.
"When the sales come around, I shop, but at the same time I'm not great at delving into baskets for things -- they still have to look nicely presented."
As a not so seasoned shopper, Katie is also keen to point out the importance of dressing one's age.
"When you're 20, you want to look like you're 20," she concludes. "A lot of girls dress either too old or too young. But if you shop in the right shops, it's hard to go that far wrong."
Photography: Gerry Mooney
Name: Katie Dempsey
Marital status: Single
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