This is the second instalment of my style suggestions, which had originally been conceived as the 10 Style commandments. Someone who has an enthusiastic fondness for iridescent brogues shouldn’t be allowed to dispense fashion guidance, let alone unsolicited commandments. I should emphasise that any advice is the product of opinion and personal experience, in this case my sage words are mostly devised from my experience as a stylist and an eccentric fashionista – so take what’s useful and leave what’s not.
1) Learn to like your body:
In the modern world we’re unceasingly bombarded with images of skinny, nubile, supposedly perfect bodies that chip away at self esteem like Machiavellian ringworm which gets under our skin and hisses sabotaging messages in our ears…’You’re too fat’…’You’re not pretty’…’You’ll never be good enough’…and so on. Getting that treacherous monkey off your back can be challenging to say the least, however it’s important to remember that images of models in magazines are created with a flotilla of makeup artists, hairdressers, stylists, photographers and post production photoshopping. Comparing yourself to images in magazines is like comparing yourself to a cartoon – they’re simply not real.
The truth is that we all have body hangups but equally, everyone’s got something great about their figure that’s worth emphasising. Try to look at your figure with a degree of objectivity – there’s always a great feature that’s worth putting centre stage. For me it’s my waist and my arms; the most flattering looks for me are full skirts and cropped tops. I have proportionally short legs coupled the muscular thighs of a rugby player. I would love to rock a short skirt or tailored cropped trousers, but my She Hulk quads make these looks out of bounds. However, rather than obsessing over my coconut cracking thighs, I’ve learnt to concentrate on what I actually like about myself. It takes time and practice, but looking in the mirror and affirming that you are good enough will eventually pay off.
2) Dress for your mood:
Clothes can elevate a dark mood, I continually look to bright colours and vibrant textures to lift myself out of a funk. Of course fashion isn’t the answer to life’s obstacles, neither is going out and buying loads of new clobber in order to patch up a broken heart; therein lies the path to emotional and financial bankruptcy. However, in the same way that going to the gym or eating healthily can make you feel better, dressing well can help to relieve a foul temper. I don’t tend to trouble myself with the matching an outfit to an occasion, I just do my own thing regardless. However, I know that for most people working in more conservative environments this isn’t an option, but I would always encourage choosing clothes and colours that make you happy – it’ll cheer you up. Promise.
3) Wear clothes that have a story:
I love to wear clothes that have some sort of meaning or history to them. My mum’s old jewellery, scarves knitted for me by my mother in law and necklaces that my dad bought me years ago carry meaning and sentimental value that I find immensely comforting. They add touches of authenticity to my flippant fripperies. Because of this longing for meaning, I’m drawn to designers whose collections have stories woven into the fabric of their clothes. Teatum Jones excel in fashion story telling, so do Charlotte Taylor and Georgia Hardinge.
4) Fear no Judgement:
In my personal styling days I noticed that clients would be frightened of certain clothes. They were worried about the implications of a particular print or a shoe colour – ‘Doesn’t leopard print scream bar maid?’…’Aren’t red heels trashy?’…’Are you sure that this blazer doesn’t make me look like a bloke?’. The answer was inevitably ‘No’, otherwise I wouldn’t suggest it. This inhibition tends to come from being criticised as a child by family members. I had one client who grew up with three brothers who were made fun of her whenever she wore anything that wasn’t strictly utilitarian. I know this is much easier said than done, but try to free yourself from the dialogue that you were indoctrinated with as a child – it does nothing but hold you back.
5) So bad it’s good:
This is one that I swear by – things that are so bad they’re good are unequivocally awesome. Plastic clothes, white stilettos, iridescent fabric and jumpers made out of scuba diving fabric are all fair game so far as I’m concerned. As long as you stick to shapes that suit you, then anything goes. By choosing clothes that are pleasingly bonkers you express your individuality in a way that’s irreplaceable. Why be dull?