Lee is a coach and a verbal communications consultant, living in Wellington, New Zealand. She is gradually shifting into retirement. She came to my notice in my Evolve Your Style and 7 Steps to Style programs as she shared her unique style – Lee has mastered the monochromatic and shows that no matter your age, you can develop and improve your style. and that you can be stylish at any age. I’m really excited to be sharing her Stylish Thoughts with you here.
Any style I now have, I’ve learnt from Imogen’s genius and the wonderful people in EYS and 7SS and I’ve learnt it the slow way! So, for all of you who feel you are also only learning slooowly, here goes:
What is the secret to great style?
Definitely taking photos of my outfits. I don’t have the eye to visualise how I’m going to look in something unless it is pre-tested, so the photos are crucial for me. I keep a little cache of Blu Tak stuck inside my mobile phone case so I can stick the phone anywhere.
Behind that, of course, sits what I now understand about my style, shape, colour palette and so on. I can see what doesn’t look right in the photos now and have some ideas about how to put it right. This outfit took me several goes and lots of input from all of you, but that’s the nature of progress!
What is the one thing you would spend a lot of money on?
I don’t spend a lot of money on clothes, but I have learnt that it’s worth spending more money on shoes that are comfortable and look good. I would spend quite a lot on a good winter coat, though I love my current one and it was only $100 at a recycle shop. I would spend a lot on the right jacket, but I rarely find a jacket that suits me and my lifestyle, so in reality, I don’t!
What’s the secret to looking polished?
Accessories are important for lifting an outfit up into polished territory. For me, though, the secret is to follow through a theme in what I am wearing. The theme is often a colour to tie things together, but it can be a certain line of the outfit or picking up on fabric pattern or texture.
How do you balance new trends with a more timeless look?
I do aim for a modern look, but I’m not particularly interested in new trends. I get confused too easily to enjoy shopping trips, I never read fashion magazines and I’m not good at online shopping. It is difficult to find muted, smoky, cool colours in clothes that suit my shape, so ‘trends’ are the least of my problems. En route through the city as I go to client meetings, I regularly walk through stores that stock clothes that I like. I look at anything that has pale smoky colours and usually there aren’t any! Occasionally I do actually buy something and by coincidence, that may mean I’ve bought a new trend. Often I find things in unlikely places. I found this grey cloak at an agricultural show!
What’s your secret to making yourself stand out?
I don’t really want to ‘stand out. My style goal is for people to think that I am approachable and might be interesting. That means my style essentially is relaxed, comfortable but with a touch of edge. I think ultra-stylish people can be a bit off-putting in real life – it is hard to get a sense of what they are really like underneath. For example, I love the way Iris Apfel looks, but if I met her I’d struggle to get past all that stunning style to have a real conversation. Attracting interesting conversations is what style is about for me.
What’s the best piece of style wisdom you’ve ever received?
Over my slow learner style journey, I’ve put faith in a piece of wisdom that comes from Mark Forster, a time management writer – Your life reflects what you have paid attention to. In the style context, I decide exactly where I want to improve my style, then I just keep paying attention to it. I think about it, observe how other people succeed with it and I experiment until I figure out how to make it work for me. Until I found Imogen’s genius, I didn’t know where to focus that attention, but now I know. One of my 2019 attention goals is figuring out how to make outfits work without resorting so often to scarves.