No more LACE please!
As I’ve said on the blog many times before, there’s a common misconception that image consultants help their clients to become more fashionable.
I enjoy looking at the latest fashion magazines to see what designers are putting out as much as the next person, but I’m never going to rip out an article listing “5 Must-Wear Trends for SS 2016” and take it shopping, frantically ticking off each one as I go along.
It’s much more important to me that I choose clothes that suit my shape and style. If the things that suit me happen to be on trend, then that’s a bit of serendipitous luck that I will take advantage of and be happy about. Otherwise, I’m going to keep on walking when fashion dictates that I must wear a crop top.
However, this year it has been more of a problem than usual. Why? Because of the now famous ‘laser-cut dress’. That blinking thing is EVERYWHERE! Some version of this lacy, floaty, wasp-waisted concoction is in every shop on the high street. And, it is SO not me.
If you’ve ever heard me presenting my story, you’ve probably heard me blathering on about how I spent much of my childhood straining to look cute in a dancing costume. For some reason, the style of those costumes just didn’t work for me. I always felt out of place and uncomfortable. Even though I loved my dance classes.
Rinse and repeat throughout my teens, twenties and thirties, every time I tried to wear a pretty dress – it was agonising! I just wanted to wear something whimsical and sweet and I felt like a man in drag. I began to spot this pattern and I gave up on dresses. Just stopped wearing them completely.
Has this happened to you?
It wasn’t until I embarked on my image consultant training that I realised: I just hadn’t been trying the right style of dresses! That was when I started to categorise clothes into ‘styles’ (Classic, Girly, Natural and Dramatic for the uninitiated). The pretty dresses I was trying to wear were straight out of the ‘girly’ stable. Which includes anything soft and pretty, in a floaty fabric, with lace trims and small frills or prints in delicate colours and soft textures. You get the gist. None of that stuff looks good on me!
Each one of us suits a particular style of clothes. I don’t know why this is. Something about your body, your face, your personality or the cocktail of all three affects which clothes work best for you. Don’t get me wrong, if you feel comfortable and happy, wear which ever clothes you like. But, if you feel fussy, or awkward, self-conscious, too manly, or like you are dressing up it could be because the style of your clothes is wrong for you, and it’s worth trying something different.
Most of us aren’t straight forward enough to suit just one of the styles, we are usually a blend of two or three. When I work with clients I put together a bespoke clothing prescription for each person. It gives them a rough percentage of each style to aim for. If you are ‘girly’ with ‘natural’ for example, you might want to wear a pretty dress, but tone the girlyness down with some ‘natural’ Birkenstocks or a denim jacket.
So what do you do when you don’t suit a particular style but the current fashion dictates that all clothing shops are packed to the rafters with garments of that type?
You go on a hunt.
Once I recognised that I could wear dresses but they had to be in the right style, I stopped trying to force myself into the wrong stuff and learned to hunt out the frocks that fitted into my style prescription (mostly dramatic, a bit natural and a bit classic) and, crucially, that didn’t make me feel like Dame Edna.
So how can you work out which style is best for you?
Ask yourself a few searching questions:
- Would you look better in a t-shirt with a very plain neckline or one with a lace trim?
- Could you wear a dainty necklace with a small heart-shaped pendant?
I now know that I can’t. And that’s ok. My jewellery is bigger, stronger and more ‘statement’. My clothes don’t have little, fussy details. If I wear print, it’s bold.
What I’m trying to say is: don’t be afraid to give up on girly if it’s not for you. You don’t have to force yourself into something floaty or pretty just because you are going to a wedding. You can be feminine and gorgeous without the fuss, and you can still wear dresses.
To give you a head start, here are some of the frocks that I’ve managed to hunt out this season that will make me feel ‘all woman’ but not ‘all girly’.
1. Whistles Lulu Chambray Dress £110.00
2. Whistles Lola Dress £95
3. Cut About Stripe Josie Dress £110
4. Warehouse Casual Shirt Dress £35
5. Warehouse Double Layer Cami Dress £35