Today’s Stylish Thoughts contributor is Jane Liddelow Style Makeover HQ who is a Sydney (Australia) based Image Consultant, and blogger.
What is the secret to great style?
If I had to sum this up in one word it would be…knowledge!
And I think that can be broken down into 3 parts:
1. Knowledge of what constitutes style — A minority of women seem to have been born with knowing what to wear to which occasion, what suits their body shape and colouring, how to create flattering proportions and to express their personality through their appearance. However, for most of us our education didn’t include the fundamentals of how to dress well.
There is now a lot of good information available online, including Imogen’s great blog here, that helps women gain that knowledge. And TV shows such as Trinny and Susannah’s “What not to wear” and Gok’s “How to look good naked”. These shows, even if they don’t directly help you, should make you realise the difference your appearance can make and that there are professionals who can help you learn about style.
2. Knowledge of yourself — be aware of your personality, understand your body shape and your colouring. Acknowledge your ambitions, your strengths, your weaknesses. Know how much you’re prepared to put into creating your own style, both initially and on an ongoing basis. For example, if you want a low maintenance look, don’t choose a hairstyle that needs lots of work to keep it looking good, or clothes that need hand washing.
3. Knowledge of how to pull the above 2 areas together to create your own great style! This comes with practice, so don’t be afraid to have fun with your style!
What’s the best piece of style wisdom you’ve ever received?
I started my style journey in my late 20s by realising I was wearing a lot of colours that did nothing for me. I found an Image Consultant and booked a colour analysis consultation. I came out as an Autumn, but I’d been wearing a lot of cool, pale colours, when warm, medium strength colours suit me best. I then went on and had a style consultation as well.
This helped for a while, but then I found that, even though I now knew my best colours and styles, I still often struggled to find outfits in my wardrobe that I liked to wear. The frustration was particularly bad at each change of fashion season. So, I decided to gain more knowledge. As a result I trained to become an image consultant myself. I’m not suggesting you need to go that far, but it is a really good idea to gain some style knowledge.
When I started my Image Consulting practice I quickly came to realise I needed to find an easy way for my clients to understand what they needed to know to improve their appearance, without getting overwhelmed.
This resulted in me having a “eureka” moment, when I realised I could formulate the attaining of style as 6 elements or steps. So, this is the best piece of style wisdom I’ve ever “received”.
My 6 style steps are:
1. Great grooming — includes hair and makeup
2. Wear your best colours
3. Dress to flatter your body shape
4. Understand your style personality and reflect it in your appearance
5. Assess and plan your wardrobe at least twice a year, at the change of fashion seasons
6. Shop to your plan
Imogen’s blog contains lots of really great information on each of these areas and I give more detail on my website too.
The one piece of advice most women need, but don’t get?
In a style context, it would be to invest in yourself: it’s that knowledge word again — learn how to present your best appearance. Get professional help, if you need it. The time and money you invest will repay you 1,000 times over by boosting your confidence and having people take notice of you for all the right reasons.
And the best “piece” of style wisdom I can give is to assess yourself periodically on the 6 steps to style above. It’s especially important to re-assess your look after major changes in your life, such as having children and menopause, when our bodies change, and after events such as divorce, or illness, when you may need to re-invent yourself. When women don’t have style knowledge, these are the times that it’s easy to lose any style mojo you had and to lose self-confidence.
What is your favourite current trend?
It’s hard to pick just one! I love colour blocking. I especially love the oranges, reds and warm greens we’re seeing a lot of just now.
I also LOVE leopard and snake prints. I find I have to take care not to overdose on these!
What’s your favourite short cut to style?
How would you describe your personal style?
Mainly natural with a creative twist. I like clothes that are comfortable and practical, but that have some fun or edgy element to them. For example, I’ll wear turquoise and red together with leopard print sandals. And I love the tunic below, from NZ label VSSP, with its funky zips and pocket detailing.
For more traditional business situations I go for more classic styles, still with a natural feel (such as a fabric with a bit of stretch), but with a little injection of interesting style detailing or colour.
I’m still having fun evolving my personal style. It’s not a static thing.