Styling in the Cold with Annikky Lamp
What’s life like up North? How do you combine practical design and sombre weather with eclectic hobbies, witty feminist minds and authentic passions? That’s exactly what our today’s guest Annikky Lamp explores in her widely popular blog Life in a Cold Climate and instagram @lifeinacoldclimate.
In daytime, Annikky is a serious, suited-up professional in the European Commission. In the morning and at night though, she transforms into a design, culture and book lover. Annikky has managed to continuously engage an international audience and has done so all out of her free time.
So!, Wuruhi invited Annikky for a chat and a photoshoot in the lovely Estonian design and story hotel Solo Sokos Hotel Estoria.
Anniky, what’s you lifestyle like?
I’m not sure I really have a lifestyle, at least not in the glamorous sense that people associate that word with. But I certainly have a life and that involves living (currently) in Brussels with my boyfriend, our daughter and our dog (a Westie); working for the European Commission’s media team; writing a blog; reading, cooking, exercising, traveling and enjoying culture, when I can.
My work – communicating EU’s economic policy – can be ridiculously intense, so I need to be good with planning my free time. Although to be honest, there isn’t much of it on weekdays, no matter how well I plan.
My blog is a good way to balance the rather sombre topics I usually work with, so I tend to write about lighter things: style, beauty, books, food, travel, whatever catches my fancy. One good thing about Brussels is that it’s in the middle of Europe, making a weekend trip to Paris or London very easy.
One Sunday, I bought the train ticket to Paris, hopped on, spent hours in the Guimet Museum (they have an excellent collection of Asian art), had tea at The Ritz, walked in the Tuileries Garden, did some window shopping, and travelled back in the evening (now this almost sounds like I *do* have a lifestyle!).
Something like this is rather difficult to do when living in a Baltic country. Brussels itself is also much nicer than many people give it credit for. It has great markets, a multicultural vibe, good museums, a lively jazz scene and much else to explore.
My current lifestyle goal is to get up earlier – I’m not a morning person! – to exercise more and also get some writing done before I head to the office. And I’m trying to eat less meat, mostly for environmental reasons.
Busy life! When did you start your blog, Life in a Cold Climate, next to all of this?
The blog is about three and a half years old, although I had been thinking about it for years, never feeling quite ready to do it. I didn’t feel ready when I launched it either, but moving away from Estonia gave me the final push – it was a way of asserting control in a changed situation and also a way of staying in touch with Estonia. Many of my friends read it and I also feature quite a bit of Estonia-specific content (mostly on style).
Who would you say is your target reader?
I didn’t really have a very specific reader in mind when I started, it was more about doing my own thing. And as the blog isn’t commercial, it isn’t really that crucial to be very specific about the audience.
But I kind of assumed that the reader would be similar to me. That has kind of come true, as there are many readers who are women in their 30s, with demanding jobs and diverse interests. But I also have male readers, young readers, older readers, readers who come for very specific topics (books or skincare, for example). And I certainly would not have guessed that I will have more US-based readers than Estonian ones.
My international readership is significantly larger than the one I have in my home country (although Estonia is number two in the country ranking). I think there are only two countries from where no-one has visited: North-Korea and Yemen. This is rather amazing when I stop to think about it.
My favourite thing about the blog is getting feedback from readers. They are invariably very intelligent and interesting people and reading a supportive comment from Nigeria or Singapore is simply such a pleasure. I mean, I obviously love planning the style shoots and creating the content as well, but that I kind of expected – the readers are an amazing bonus.
We all have someone we look up to. Who are the people who inspire you?
They tend to be smart, accomplished, confident women. Not surprisingly, I admire many writers, like Margaret Atwood, N.K. Jemisin and the late Ursula le Guin, but also politicians like Margrethe Vestager and Jacinda Ardern.
I have an especially soft spot for women who have succeeded in traditionally male fields. Among them are Ada Lovelace, Amelia Earhart and the Japanese female samurais from the past, and Maryam Mirzakhany, Christine Lagarde and Ruth Bader Ginsburg in our time.
A well-dressed scientist who likes to write books and fight bullies in her free time would probably be my ideal person. (It’s not that men don’t inspire me, they do, but I always tend to think of women first.)
Tell us about your passion for books. How many books do you normally read?
I’ve been a serious reader since I was very small and I don’t see that changing, ever. With my job and other commitments, one has to make choices, and I decided years ago that I will choose books over TV and, to a certain extent, other forms of culture (although I love music, theatre and art).
This is not to diss TV, as it’s really a flourishing medium at the moment and I do make exceptions during big sporting events. It’s just that there aren’t enough hours for everything.
My reading tastes are very wide and eclectic, I read everything from non-fiction books on the birth of agriculture to feminist classics to modern literary fiction to cookbooks about Central Asian food.
I love science fiction and fantasy – both genres are going through very exciting times and there is so much really imaginative and progressive stuff to read. I love books on history and science and feel a certain obligation to read about current affairs. I also make an effort to get through some poetry and comics every month, to keep my reading varied.
I don’t need to consciously focus on reading more female authors, as I tend to naturally gravitate towards them anyway, but I do keep an eye on whether I read people of colour and authors from different parts of the world.
Overall, I read a bit more than 100 books a year. It can sound like a lot, but I admit it never feels like enough to myself.
We love the way you style, by the way. Where do you get inspiration for it?
But I realise this isn’t a very helpful answer, so I’ll try to be more specific. There are the obvious places: magazines, fashion shows, Instagram, YouTube, blogs, style web sites. They are all helpful. I follow people whose style I admire, like Pandora Sykes or Leandra Medine, and get inspired.
I also like to watch people in real life, to enjoy and learn. Movies are often great for the general mood, art is good for colour palettes, interiors are excellent for patterns. And I love a historic reference. Generally, I think it’s good to be open to as many influences as possible, from couture to street, from Cate Blanchett to Tommy Cash.
I recommend looking at things that aren’t immediately appealing, at different aesthetics, to educate the eye. And finally, I often find clothes provide their own inspiration – a beautiful piece will immediately make me go ‘ah!’ and come up with several ways of wearing it.
What would you say, what’s an easy way to spice up your outfit?
Simple outfits don’t necessarily need spicing up, simple can be very effective.
But if I feel something is missing, I will go bold with another element: I’ll have a blow-dry, paint my lips brick red, add a statement shoe or sunglasses. It also depends on context: if I know I will be in a snobbish setting, a good bag adds confidence.
If it’s a question of looking more glamorous, a pair of dangly, sparkly earrings will help. Scarves can be good, especially if worn in unexpected ways: small ones around your wrist or in your hair, bigger ones as a belt.
What are your favourite accessories in your closet?
Ironically, I’m not a big accessories person, as my clothes tend to be quite loud already. But the things I have, I really do love. My most treasured piece is a custom-made Tanel Veenre tiara, a gift from my boyfriend.
I also love earrings, but as my ears aren’t pierced, the selection used to be pitiful. It’s improving now and I adore my mismatched Roxanne Assoulin clip-on earrings. The only piece of jewellery I wear every day is my delicate engagement ring by Katrin Sipelgas that I’ve worn for about 18 years now (I plan to stay engaged forever).
As I’m always cold, I love big cashmere scarves. And if shoes count, then I have a pair of red velvet Prada pumps that are just beautiful. On the other hand, I’m also obsessed with my Gucci loafers and ugly Nike Tekno trainers.
From today’s photoshoot with Wuruhi, what was your favourite accessory or jewellery piece?
I liked everything I wore, otherwise I would not have picked these things!
Stuudio Nahk bags are great, I’ve had my eye on the medium size Frank (in pink) for ages. Both of the necklaces I would gladly wear in real life and I will probably get one of those warm Alpaka scarves.
I admire how Piret Kartus has been doing her own thing for years, untouched by trends – I just find her things so cheerful and opulent and I do own several of her jewellery pieces (she does clip-ons!).
But I think my favourite look was the most masculine one, I really enjoyed the combination of the ear cuff by Rita Livia and the bracelets. If you are on a budget, I think a leather bracelet by Kadri Kruus is a very affordable way to add something special to your look.
And I adore that large arm cuff by Tanel Veenre: I actually own it and apparently I’m the only woman who has ever been brave enough (his words) to buy it. This puzzles me, as I think it’s actually a very classic – although badass – piece. I get strong Wonder Woman vibes from it.
Wonder Woman, so true! And to wrap up, tell us, do you have a quote or moto that you live by?
I’m not big on quotes – the inspirational ones I usually find silly, and even the ones taken from the books I love seem sadly reduce when they are robbed of their context.
If I have a favourite quote, it’s probably by Henry Kissinger, from his book World Order: “History punishes strategic frivolity sooner or later.” It would in fact make for a pretty good life motto, but not one I necessarily manage to live by.
If I try to summarise what I think is important in life, it’s to use both your brain and your heart to the fullest and to be bold without hurting others.