I was reflecting on my personal style journey recently. Safe to say that it’s been a pretty wild ride and that my style lessons have been hard won.
I was always interested in style. As a child I wanted to be a fashion designer ‘when I grew up’. I remember using reams of paper while I was attempting to create spectacular outfits. Unfortunately, I was born with the artistic ability of a lemon tree. It turns out that lemon trees aren’t particularly good at sketching or designing. (Interestingly, our son was born with an innate talent for both design and sketching. Was there talent inside me after all? Who knows?)
Regardless, my inherent lack of ability didn’t stop me from playing in the fashion and style space. Luckily, I had the support of a creative and talented mother. So as a child I learned to create clothes for my dolls and later, as a teenager, I was inspired to sew my own outfits. I also went through a stage of embellishing my clothing with paint and ribbons and lace.
Somewhere along the way though, I lost my style mojo. I’m not sure what happened, but it seems like I completely lost interest.
My twenties could only be described as a style wasteland. Please don’t ask me to describe that time of my life. I wouldn’t know where to start. Was it the fact that I was a young mum? Or that I had to wear a uniform every day? Whatever the reason, let’s say that, when it came to style, things were bad. Seriously bad.
If my memory serves me, my early thirties were simply an extension of my twenties. Frightening really…
Paris. Where my style lessons started
But then when I was 35, we enjoyed a month in France – with most of our time spent in Paris. And all of a sudden my love of all things stylish, elegant and classy was reignited. This was despite the fact that my case was stuffed with some of the worst clothing choices possible. (It was on this trip that I created my number one packing rule. If you don’t wear it at home, you definitely won’t wear it while you’re away.)
Since that first visit to Paris, my love of all things stylish has crept back, one tiny style experiment at a time. Eventually, I decided that it was time to take on some formal education in the style space. An unexpected turn for someone who is well entrenched in her corporate career? Some might think so. But qualifying as a Style CoachTM was a very satisfying experience. I know that style is more than some frivolous thing. Never, ever let anyone tell you how you feel about style is not important. Because the link between style and women’s confidence is absolutely real.
The truth is that I’ve learned a stack of style lessons over the past few years. All of which I wish I’d learned a whole lot earlier on in life. But, let’s face it, you’re never too old to learn! Here are my top five lessons.
Five Style Lessons I Wish I’d Learned Sooner
1. Dressing for my unique body shape
I’ve been triangle shaped my entire life. I remember measuring myself up for the aforementioned work uniform years ago. At the time I joked that I was built like a triangle. This was long before I realised that ‘triangles’ and ‘pears’ were actually a thing.
But back then, I didn’t understand that I shouldn’t dress my triangle shaped body in any old thing. And I couldn’t for the life of me work out why my sister’s stylish pieces didn’t look any good on me. (Turns out, she has a completely different shape to me. Surprise.) Once I learned to dress in a way that balanced out my proportions, dressing became a whole lot easier…and better.
2. Sorting out which colours bring out the best in me
This seems so obvious. But it took me years to work out that some colours make me look fabulous and others make me look ill. The only thing I can say is that getting coached on which colours suited me best was worth the investment.
3. Planning is a good thing
There was a time when I could’ve been described as the ‘Queen Of The Impulse Buy’. If I liked the cut or the colour or the price then there was a strong chance a piece would be making its way home with me. Never mind the fact that it didn’t suit me. Or that it didn’t match with a single piece in my existing wardrobe. Needless to say that I wasted a lot of money on my way to an incongruent look – and a wardrobe full of orphan pieces. These days, I look for gaps in my wardrobe and plan my clothing purchases around them.
4. Developing an understanding of quality is helpful
Once upon a time, my wardrobe was all about quantity – as demonstrated by point three above. Fast forward to today. Now I always think about quality. I especially consider how many wears I will get out of a particular item – potentially over a period of years. It did take me a while to learn that a high price tag doesn’t guarantee increased quality. And we all know that super cheap rarely indicates quality. Usually I find excellent quality somewhere in the middle of those two extremes.
5. Style confidence comes from trusting yourself
Perhaps the biggest of my style lessons was learning about to feel good in the clothes I chose to wear. For a long time, I’d compare myself to what others were wearing and the conclusion was always the same. I never felt the clothes I was wearing were right for the occasion. Learning to trust my choices and wear what I love has been very liberating.
What style lessons have you learned over the years? I’d love for you to share them in the comments section below.
Until next time – stay fabulous.
Warmest, Janelle x