Lydia is a friend of Diana Gabriel, the jewelry designer we featured earlier on 40+Style. Lydia is a lawyer but also creates her own jewelry. Just like Diana she has incredible style.
Naturally we wanted to feature Lydia too and discover the secrets of her unique creations. Enjoy!
Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?
I am a partner at an intellectual property law firm in New York. I am also a jewelry designer and maker, selling my creations under the trademark, BIRABIRO.
As a point of reference which age group do you belong to or perhaps you are willing to share your age?
I am 45.
Can you tell us a bit more about your passion for jewelry
I have always loved jewelry and creating things. I started making beaded necklaces as a child and decided to make my own jewelry after becoming a lawyer.
I have delicate fingers and wrists so my jewelry-making serves two purposes, fuelling my creativity and enabling me to make large-scaled rings and bracelets that fit and suit me.
More recently, I have started making some smaller pieces for my daughters and their friends.
I met Diana through studio time at the JCC in Manhattan. Our common love of fashion and jewelry brought us together as friends and I look forward to seeing her every Wednesday when we work on our latest creations.
While my pieces are not as bold as Diana’s, she inspires me to take my creativity to the next level!
What are your best tips when it comes to accessorising?
I try to find a focal point for my outfit whether it is jewelry, shoes, eyeglasses, a scarf, etc. I then coordinate the rest of my outfit to highlight that focal point.
Another tip is to be selective in what you purchase. Try to find unusual pieces that bring your accesorizing to the next level.
I also think a statement piece can really make an outfit.
How would you describe your own personal style?
I would describe my style as multifaceted. I like to mix classic pieces with modern pieces and finish them off with an edgy twist.
My outfits differ everyday and depend on my activities that day (i.e., whether I am going to work, going out with friends, spending time with my daughters, etc.).
What would you consider the most important components of your style?
I always like to incorporate interesting jewelry and color into my style. I also love interesting eyewear and usually add glasses to my outfits (I own various colored frames that I wear, depending on the outfit).
Where do you live and how does that influence your style?
I live in Harlem, New York, which influences my style greatly. Women in New York tend to dress very well. This encourages me to look my best whether I am wearing jeans or more dressed up for work.
Women in Harlem tend to embrace more color than your typical New Yorker so that definitely has an influence on me.
I live near the African Market in Harlem which is the best place to get beautiful, colorful African prints and I make it a habit to visit the Market regularly.
I am also Ethiopian by birth so I love to incorporate things from Ethiopia into my outfits, whether it is an Ethiopian cross or the beautiful scarves you can buy from there.
Is there a big difference between your work style and casual style? If yes, please describe.
There is a difference. For work, I tend to wear a lot of dresses.
I am also more formal. On weekends, I tend to wear more denim because I am hanging out with my family but I always try to add an interesting top or jacket, along with some statement jewelry.
Do you feel you have a signature style?
I do not think I have one signature style. It really depends on my mood though I am drawn to certain silhouettes which suit my body type – fit and flare dresses, peplum tops, and tunics over skinny leg jeans.
What inspires your outfit choices the most?
The foundation to any of my outfits is the jewelry I intend to wear. Other inspirations include eyewear, activities for the day, even the weather!
The more dreary it is outside, the brighter my outfits get.
Do you take things like color profiling or body type into account when you dress?
I think knowing your body type is key. I have learned over the years how to dress for my body type (even as it has changed over the years).
While as a teenager, I did do the color test. I believe I am a “Winter”. However, I do not follow a particular color palette.
I wear pretty much any color I want though I tend to like bolder colors over more muted tones.
Has your style changed at all after turning 40?
I have definitely changed my style over the last few years. I look for clothes which have unique elements.
I also have incorporated more color into my wardrobe. While I still wear all black at times, I try to have at least one “pop of color”. Color really makes me happy.
Do you believe in dressing ‘age appropriately’ and what does it mean to you?
I really do not believe in following a set of blanket rules associated with age. I believe that you should dress to make yourself happy.
In fact, recently I bought the most gorgeous black tulle skirt, which some may argue is too young for me. I have never owned a tutu.
I absolutely love wearing it to black-tie events. That being said, depending on your chosen career, you should try to dress appropriately so as to not jeopardise your ability to make a living (i.e., I would NEVER wear a tutu to a client meeting).
Would you say that at this stage of your life you are now more, or less interested in fashion, style and the way you look?
I am definitely more interested in style and how I look though I have followed fashion from a young age.
I believe that my tastes are more refined so rather than buying lots of things on sale, I try to focus on key pieces which are distinctive and which will remain in my closet for years to come.
Why is the way you look important to you?
I believe that you should feel good about yourself on the inside. That being said, I do think that there is something to be said about how you look on the outside (though I certainly would never force my opinion on anyone as you should dress in what makes you happy).
I always feel much better when I am dressed well. I even make an extra effort on those days when I not feeling at the top of my game or when it is dreary outside.
Do you follow trends? And if yes, which trends excite you at the moment?
I do follow trends and tend to incorporate elements into my wardrobe. I love the big florals that you see right now.
I also love some of the sparkly clothing (I think my daughters have influenced my tastes!) and the metallic shoes/accessories. I consider metallics to be neutrals; they really elevate certain outfits to the next level.
Do you have any fashion and style tips for women over 40?
- I would say that you should know your body, and dress for it.
- Do not buy things because they are on sale or super trendy.
- Don’t buy excessively high shoes which will cause you pain.
- Instead focus on the things that make you feel good. That way you will end up with less junk in your closets and you will avoid days where you think you have nothing to wear.
- You should be confident in your appearance as you only have one life and you should live it fabulously!
What are your plans for your business / collaboration and how do you see it develop over the coming years?
I plan to continue being the jeweler and lawyer. I believe that having that creative outlet really makes me a better lawyer.
I am able to look at issues that clients have from a different perspective. I also hope to continue making my jewelry and getting more exposure in that regard (there is only so much I can wear).
It makes me so happy when someone buys a piece from me and tells me that it is one of their favorite pieces.
Anything further you would like to add?
I have nothing further to add but to thank you immensely for this opportunity. I love and am inspired by your blog!
Find Lydia’s wonderful and unique jewelry pieces at Bira Biro!
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Photography by Denton Taylor
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Nice interview and love Lydia’s style. Great inspiration and she is so put together in all her outfits. I especially like the black tulle skirt and fitted textured jacket look!
Some stunning pieces she’s wearing. I love the shot of Lydia in the high neck ruffle jacket with her hands showing all those beautiful rings.
And it so made me happy when she said colour really makes her happy – absolutely!
I love the dare and boldness of Lydia. I must be so nice to be so creative. And I love her red dress with the blue stripes. And that necklace she is wearing with it.
Thank you so much! This has been so much fun and everyone has been so sweet!
i want a tulle skirt now. all of these outfits are exceptionally amazing and so is the jewelry.
As a fellow harlemite and over 40 woman of color, I love your style and outlook. You rock!
WOW! Just WOW! Thanks for featuring Lydia Sylvia! She is indeed multifaceted…and multi-talented and multi-inspirational too!
Love your style.
WOW! Lydia! What a great interview for Sylvia’s followers. Think your advice will go a long way to helping women find their own style. ADORE! that photo with your hands holding up the red collar surrounding your face and the red balloon necklace. You’re such a STYLE MAVEN!