look and feel fabulous

What Has Love Got To Do With It?

To really look and feel fabulous you have got to love what you are wearing.  It increases our confidence tenfold (at least). If what you’re wearing doesn’t make you look and feel fabulous you’re missing out on an opportunity.look and feel fabulous

One of the first questions I ask my clients is what is your favourite outfit, piece of jewellery or item of clothing.

When they tell me, I ask them more about it.  Initially without them showing me because I want them to help me understand why it’s special.

  1. Is it the colour?
  2. Or the shape?
  3. Do you look and feel fabulous when you wear it?
  4. Does it evoke happy memories?
  5. Did you buy it for a special occasion?
  6. Was it an investment piece?
  7. Do you receive lots of compliments whenever you wear it?

Finally – how often do you wear it? Very often this will reveal that the item is hardly ever worn because it’s special.   While I’m an advocate of not keeping things for best I accept that not everything is suitable for everyday.

But the reason we do the exercise is to draw out the answers. When you know what it is that makes you look and feel fabulous beyond ‘this dress’ it’s so much easier to replicate.

So let me show you an example of my own go to piece that makes me look and feel fabulous every time I wear it.

The Necklace That Makes Me Look And Feel Fabulousthe necklace that makes me feel amazing

The Colour

I love the colour because it goes with anything.  When it catches the light it changes colour.   Because it’s a cool colour this helps my features stand out. So the colour really does make me look and feel fabulous.

The Shape

The shape certainly is an influencer because it hits most of my style keywords: dramatic, quirky, fun and passionate.  You can’t fail to notice it and it represents who I am and what my brand is about.

Does It Make Me Look And Feel Fabulous?

Oh hell yes!  Every time I wear it I feel a million dollars and for that reason it was worth every darn penny I spent on it.

I also bought a bracelet and earrings with the necklace.  I love the bracelet too and have worn it so often that I had to have it restrung.

Does It Evoke Happy Memories?do I receive lots of compliments when I wear my favourite piece

Not that I specifically attach to the necklace.

Did I Buy It For A Special Occasion?

No it was an impulse purchase at an exhibition of a jewellery designer I’d been introduced to. She had an open house.  I went along with the approach that I’d feel morally obliged to spend money.

Was It An Investment Piece?

At the time it was an investment. I’d recently finished my corporate career, had no money coming in.  I felt quite guilty about spending the money.  I even agonized over whether I should ask the designer for a refund!

Do I Receive Lots Of Compliments When I Wear It?

Yes I do and I take from this that it’s not simply the necklace, but it’s the way it makes me look and feel fabulous.   It ensures I feel more confident and that’s going to impact the way I walk in a room and present myself.

 

But What If You Don’t Wear Your Favourite Piece Very Often

The aim of this exercise is to see what it is about the item or outfit that makes it special.    With clothing in particular break it down further to include:

  1. Fabric – texture, print
  2. Details about the shape – hemline, sleeve length, neckline, the cut
  3. Details of the garment – trims, quality of manufacture

Then take a look in your wardrobe and see if there is anything else that is similar. Perhaps with a bit of help from a seamstress you could make it more like your favourite piece?   Or if it’s the colour and you don’t have anything else the same colour would you be able to use accessories to replicate the colour with other clothes?

But even if the answer is still I haven’t got anything else, what you have now got is a blueprint and a very clear idea of what makes you look and feel fabulous.  This is so important when you are shopping and helps you to avoid mistakes.  It doesn’t mean you have to clone your favourite outfit when you shop! But it does mean you have a better understand of what really works for you.

So that’s what love has got to do with it!  Happy Valentines!

 

If You Want To Look & Feel Fabulous Try This Exercise Yourself

Download my checklist to help you determine what is your favourite piece in your wardrobe.

Download My Free Guide Look & Feel Fabulous

Download My Free Guide

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fat shaming will not work

How To Get Over Fat Shaming Right Now

Fat Shaming will not help cure the Obesity Crisis.   We need to remove the social stigma associated with obesity.  We’ve proven that making it easier for people to talk about stigmatized health conditions is enormously beneficial.  But we still have the barrier to break down in terms of obesity.  This week is National Obesity Awareness Week in the UK.  Hence I’m debunking some of the myths associated with the attitude towards obesity.

Fat Shaming Won’t Help

fat shaming is not the answerI despise any kind of body shaming whether it’s fat shaming or skinny shaming.  It’s bullying and downright harmful.

Fat shaming someone who is obese is unlikely to encourage anyone to change their lifestyle.   People who respond positively to being shamed are relatively uncommon.  If you doubt this my recommended reading is Gretchen Rubin – The Four Tendencies.

Fat Shaming is more likely to reinforce their feelings of low self-esteem and may lead to more comfort eating.

I was overweight as a teenager and was bullied for it.  I’d been underweight until I was 6 years old and had a tonsillectomy.  My parents so overjoyed that I was at last enjoying food encouraged me to eat and eat.  While my own unhealthy relationship with food then later manifested itself as anorexia, this had nothing to do with being bullied for my weight.

 

It’s Just A Matter Of Calories In Versus Calories Outfat shaming not simply calories in and calories out

It’s easy you don’t need to be fat you just need to consume less calories than you burn (Calories In V Calories Out  – CICO)

This is a more insidious attempt at fat shaming.  Implying that people merely need to eat less and stop being lazy.

Dr Jason Fung states before 1980 we didn’t count calories.  He argues that we ate without knowing how many calories we consumed. We expended calories without knowing how many we burnt.  He argues that myths perpetuated about CICO benefited the US corporations who drove these messages for the purpose of their own bottom line.

Is this a cynical view or simply reality?  This week I read that McDonalds, Taco Bell and Wendy’s had spent $1Billion on advertising targeted at Black and Hispanic youth.  If this wasn’t bad enough  they’d all pledged to support healthier lifestyles to deprived groups.

 

Fat Shaming Is the Same As Skinny Shamingfat shaming not the same as skinny shaming

No it’s not!

As above I don’t condone any form of body shaming.    But skinny shaming is not the same as fat shaming.  I have friends who are naturally petite and get upset when they are told – you must have an eating disorder.  But this is not the same as the every day discrimination and humiliation levied at obese people in every aspect of life.

Michael Hobbes – Huffington Post Highline Article ‘Everything you know about obesity is wrong’ . He cited how one reader told me that unsolicited diet advice from strangers feels overtly worse than direct comments about weight.   Another said she leaves the room when her colleagues start talking about their new diets.  This is because it’s only a matter of time before a woman smaller than her describes herself as “huge.”

 

Let’s Get Children More Active And They’ll Lose Weight

Well I would never disagree with more activity.  There are incalculable benefits to more activity including:fat shaming we must educate children

  • More face to face social interaction;
  • Team sports and events improving their people skills as well as exercise benefits;
  • Improved sleep patterns with reduced screen time;
  • Emotional wellbeing of being outdoors particularly in nature.

Interestingly a number of international studies looked at healthy eating and more activity within children.  They found that while the combination didn’t have a massive impact on weight academic results improved.

But we do need to educate and help children from an early age without creating issues regarding food.  My own mother was a habitual dieter.  She had a relationship with food that consisted of deprivation followed by indulgence.  She loved food but was on a diet whenever her weight crept up again.  Of course her body suffered.  Her disordered eating had, at the very least, a sub-conscious impact on my own relationship with food.

 

Featuring Large Models Glamorises Obesity

No it doesn’t.diversity representing society on the catwalk

I’m a huge advocate for diversity on the catwalk and within the media to represent Society.  It’s vital that people don’t feel discriminated against. They should be able to relate to what is on the catwalk and in the media.

The outcry in October 2018 over Cosmopolitan’s Cover featuring Tess Halliday last year got the fat shaming brigade ranting and raving.    Led by Piers Morgan whose argument was that the cover made it acceptable to be obese.

Everyone deserves to feel positive about themselves.  Equally everyone should have access to education, information and support to lead a healthier lifestyle.

What we need to do is create a culture where fat discrimination is ostracized. People are encouraged to have a positive attitude towards their own bodies, which is fundamentally the aim of the body positivity movement.

Summary

We need to de-stigmatize obesity in the same way we’re creating a culture that allows us to talk about Mental Health.

Last summer an electrician visited my house and the conversation turned to photography. He shared with me his passion for photography and painting.  When I asked if he’d always enjoyed being creative he said he’d never tried it until he started to use it to help with his mental health.   How many complete strangers (particularly men) would have opened up like that even a year ago?

Obesity isn’t simply about physical health it’s equally about mental health and emotional wellbeing.   We have made fantastic progress with regard to mental health let’s replicate that with obesity.

 

Like to feel more confident about your body?  Why not take a look at my 3 top tips to be body positive by clicking on the link below.

 

 

 

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power of clothes to influence our mood

You Have To Love The Power Of Clothes

This week’s post is my first hand experience of the power of clothes.  How clothes have such an impact on our emotions and way we feel.power of clothes to influence our mood

Two weeks ago I was bitten.  I didn’t take much notice and it seemed to be healing, albeit slowly.  Well that was until 6 days after the bite when I found myself in A&E being treated for Sepsis.   My health had deteriorated at an alarming rate over the course of a couple of hours.

I’m well on the way to recovery as I write this having been prescribed three different courses of antibiotics (my poor stomach) one administered intravenously and two orally.  Why am I sharing this?

Well a few reasons really.

 

1. Thank You To The NHS

I was so bowled over by the treatment and care I received at the hands of the NHS. I’ve acknowledged this on social media and want to use this platform to shout out again.

We put our collective heads in our hands about the health service a lot of the time. But we really do have an incredible service that we should recognise and help to fix.   Let’s not let it crumble or disintegrate.

There are amazing and wonderful people who work within challenging circumstances. Everyone I came into contact with had a smile and wanted to do the best possible job.

2. The Power Of Clothes

  1. What could I wear that was practical for the doctor to examine me and didn’t necessitate me getting undressed? Also I wanted something comfortable that could accommodate my swollen leg.
  2. I spent three days as an outpatient in Ambulatory Care with a cannula in my arm and a drip. I wanted to feel good. This wasn’t about being vain.  It was a brilliant illustration of the power of clothes.
  3. I’d been coveting a pair of leopard print jogging pants but had been practising my own money saving tips! I’d put them in an online basket and abandoned them.  Well money saving went out the window.  I ordered them immediately!
  4. Leopard print jogging pants and silver baseball boots did it for me. Walking the walk (well hobbling) I felt the true power of clothes to impact our mood.  How clothes can impact the way we feel about ourselves.  Even the sordid Jeremy Kyle Show on the hospital TV didn’t bring my mood down.
  5. Don’t save it for best. You’ve heard me talk about what a waste that is!  Well having been rushed to A&E by a husband who was scared witless that I might die… adds a certain degree of poignancy to life.  I’d been planning to wear those jogging pants occasionally. Again if the power of clothes was so strong to make me feel better what was I thinking?  Bottom line I’ve worn them almost every day since I bought them!

 

3. Don’t Take Life Or Each Other For Granted

My gorgeous husband went through hell.  He’d heard me saying that I thought going to A&E on a Sunday afternoon was a good idea.  Unheard of in 37 years of marriage!

He saw the way I went from feeling a bit under the weather to struggling to stay upright in a few hours and being whisked into treatment within minutes of arriving at the hospital.

We’ve talked about the way it made us feel.  It’s a good reminder to always make time for that extra cuddle.   We’ve talked and laughed lots in the past 9 days.  We’ve not got frustrated over the things that simply don’t matter.

Not only have I had a great lesson in the power of clothes.  But also I’m even closer to the love of my life.  Pretty good result I’d say!

power of clothes and accessories

The Power Of Clothes Isn’t Just About Clothes

It applies to accessories too.

A favourite scarf or necklace can have a massive impact on the way you feel.

I’m planning to set up and run an online accessories course to show you how to accessorise in style but am asking for feedback first in response to a very short survey.  If you’d like to take part in the survey that would be amazing it’s anonymous but if you add done to the facebook post then I’ll be sending you a special gift to say thank you.

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Looking Good, Feeling Great Workshop For A-T Society

A-T Family Day Looking Good Feeling Great

I’d never heard of A-T until earlier this year when I’d been invited to take part in a workshop for the A-T Society.

The workshop was entitled ‘Looking Good, Feeling Great’ for a very special group of people.  It was part of the Society’s Annual Family Weekend.  It was humbling to be inspired by so many amazing people.

Colour Analysis For The A-T Society

What Is A-T?

Ataxia-Telangiectasia, (or A-T), is a rare and complex genetic disorder.  A-T gives rise to increasing physical disability, while deficiencies in the immune system can lead to frequent colds and infections and the gradual emergence of lung problems.  There is an increased risk of cancers, particularly leukaemia and lymphoma.

So who gets A-T?

A-T is caused by a defect, known as a ‘mutation’, on a particular gene, known as the ATM gene. A child born with mutations on both copies of the ATM gene cannot produce a protein, called the ATM protein, which is important in many processes in the body’s cells.   The parents are unknowing carriers.  When they both carry this mutation, the chances of a child developing the condition are 1 in 4.

 How does A-T manifest itself?

Ataxia means that a child’s co-ordination may be impaired.  Balance is affected and while they may be able to walk, they may often be wobbly and fall over.   Increasing impairment means that many end up in a wheelchair.

Their speech and swallowing may also be affected.  It can be hard to pronounce words and may struggle to eat.   Deterioration may continue until they are about 10 years old.

They may also develop other symptoms such as involuntary spasms. Postural issues and spinal problems are also common.  Then there is fatigue, suffered by many with A-T because the muscles are working so hard to compensate for co-ordination and balance problems.

There are different variants of A-T and sometimes people are not diagnosed until they are adults.

Looking Good, Feeling Great Workshop

Living with A-T has many challenges and the A-T Society does a fantastic job of supporting families and carers as well as those suffering from A-T.

So when I was asked if I would take part in the workshop I welcomed the opportunity to get involved.  The idea of the workshop was to offer those living with A-T the chance to have a pampering session, culminating in a photo shoot as individuals, not defined by their condition.

 

I was offering colour analysis, so that everyone taking part learnt the best colours for them.  Colour analysis has many benefits, not only does wearing  the right colours make you look healthy but it also means people look directly into your eyes when you are communicating with them.  Given how A-T impacts speech this is a massive help for those living with A-T.  Many of the girls taking part love shopping and so they really appreciated the handbag-sized swatches they could take with them for their shopping trips.

Each participant then had a chance to have their hair and make up done, before joining Frances the photographer. Frances had set up a studio area so that she could take photographs of everyone as the amazing awesome people that they are.

Looking Good, Feeling Great Workshop for A-T Society

As Saturday Approached

I don’t mind admitting that as the weekend drew closer I had a tight knot in my stomach.  It was fear of the unknown mixed with a nervous excitement of being part of something incredibly special.

But my worries were unfounded and instead I found the whole experience to be amazing.  It was great to have a small influence on someone’s life that will make a big difference to them.

As I worked with each of the participants I learned a little about their amazingly strong characters.  I started to understand how despite their frustrations and challenges they really know how to ‘get on with life’.  The stigmas they face from some people who simply don’t understand or are embarrassed.

One amazing woman is undertaking a Sky Dive later this year to raise money and more awareness for the charity.   Another lady was telling me about her love of swimming and visits to the gym.

One young man was really excited about his forthcoming trip to Silverstone for the British Grand Prix.   I learnt about special wheelchairs for dancing and trips to shopping centres.

There was a real upbeat energy in the room with lots of love and banter.  Most of those attending (apart from those recently diagnosed) attend every year. They have fun and as one woman told me ‘it’s my opportunity to ‘feel normal’.

The A-T Society

The A-T Society is clearly held in very high regard by those living with A-T along with their families and carers.  Not only does the Society offer support and practical advice, it tirelessly fundraises and commissions research.  It is completely funded by grants and donations.

If you would like to find out more then visit the A-T Society’s website.

 

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playing with colour

How To Have Fun Playing With Colour

Last week I walked into a networking meeting and realised once again the power of playing with colour!

Wow you look well! Have you been away on holiday was the greeting I received.

The truth was I hadn’t slept well.

I’d battled wind and rain to take the dogs for a decent walk before leaving the house and had rushed around to get ready.

Then I’d had one of those ‘what am I going to wear moments’ – yep even stylists have these occasionally! Before deciding the KISS approach was best – (Keep It Stylishly Simple).

 

A pair of black jeans, black long sleeved top, grey jacket and burgundy boots. As black is not in my colour palette this was potentially a disaster. The black was overpowering my tired face etching even deeper lines into my cheeks! The pewter grey was simply not enough to lift the black.

But accessories to the rescue! An orchid pink scarf, a bold necklace and by playing with colour I let my accessories lift me and help me to look radiant!

Hot Tip: even if I’m using a scarf as a feature accessory, I’ll usually add a necklace too. Why? If I get too hot I can take the scarf off but won’t loose the impact that the accessories are having on my outfit!

Such is the power of colour! It really can make you look healthy even when you’re struggling to feel at your most radiant.

I often talk about the power of colour to help you when you want to get and maintain someone’s attention.

While most people aren’t consciously aware of this, if you are wearing the right colours, people will automatically be drawn to making eye contact with you. How powerful is that when you are giving a presentation or a talk to know that you have people’s attention.

Equally if you get it wrong, then you’ll find that you have to work much harder to get people’s attention as they may be distracted by what you’re wearing. It may be that the colour you’re wearing ‘clashes’ rather than reflects your own personal colour and can overwhelm you or you overwhelm the colour.

Once we understand our colours the whole process gets a lot easier or does it?

Playing With Colour And Using the Colour Wheel

‘I’d never have thought of putting those colours together’ exclaimed Janet as we worked through her wardrobe, creating new outfits. This is a phrase I hear quite a lot from my clients.

If you’re a regular reader of my blog you will have heard me talk about style ruts.

It’s easy to get into ruts with the clothes we wear, which includes the colours not just that we wear but that we mix and match.

So today I’m going to challenge you to regain your sense of adventure with colour.  I will show you how playing with colour using the colour wheel can be fun!   You don’t need one of these wheels there are apps to use as well. I’m pretty tactile and get more from the wheel.  But why not play with the apps and see what works for you.

Colour Wheel Apps For iOS Playing With Colour Color Wheel App

Color Wheel For iOS

This is not particularly instinctive.   I struggled to see how you could learn about the differences between  tone, tint and shade (ie the inner sectors of the wheel).    However by clicking on the information symbol it does give a clear description of the types of scheme.

Playing With Colour - Pocket Colour Wheel

Pocket Color Wheel for iOS

This makes more sense and goes into more detail with a top bar of options showing how by adding different colours you can understand the tint, tone and shade.  Then on the bottom selection you can check the different colour schemes, although there is no detailed description of this.

Haute On iOS and AndroidPlaying With Colour - Haute

Apologies for not being able to test out this e Android App on an Android device, as I’m an Apple Girl.  But looking at this App it’s much simpler in the sense that the app gives you different ways to play with colour based on a photo you take of a colour.  So it helps to give you outfit inspiration without the theory.

 

 

 

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be authentic

Being Authentic Is Easy If You Know How

One of the current buzzwords is authenticity. Being authentic in the way we act, we communicate and do business. Hurrah! – I’m all for it!  I want to do business with people that I believe are genuine, have similar core values and the same kind of integrity that I hold dear.

Equally I want my clients to feel that they are getting the real me. For me being authentic is a whole lot easier than masquerading as a version of me! Afterall it’s so liberating to just be oneself?

Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than you – Dr Seuss

Being Authentic Dr Seuss

 

OMG don’t you just love Dr Seuss?

As a child every Saturday we’d visit the local library as a family. On arrival I’d rush to the children’s section, scouring the shelves for Dr Seuss books. It didn’t matter that I’d borrowed every one of them multiple times!

Now back to being authentic. Authenticity is something that we need to feel both internally and externally. So naturally this extends to the way we dress.

If we don’t feel authentic and true to ourselves with our style, we’re likely to feel uncomfortable.   If we’re not comfortable with the way we dress and appear to the outside world this will show up and we will not be confident. This impacts our life in many ways as I explained in my post last week Clothing Choices: How To Have A Great Day.

So how can we ensure that we are being authentic when it comes to our wardrobe?

Stop People Pleasing

Hands up if you remember as teenager being told: ‘You’re not going out dressed like that!’ What was your reaction?

Having spent hours getting ready you were probably pleased with the outcome.  So how did you react to that onslaught? No doubt you were angry or upset? You may have stormed upstairs to change or just rushed out slamming the door behind you. Neither option being a positive outcome!  Our early wardrobe influencers often have a lot to answer for!

stop people pleasing

My father hated green. Result was that neither my mother nor I owned a single green garment between us. Before I had my colours done and appreciated which shades of green really suit me, I’d acquired every type of green in my wardrobe after my father died! I’m still in a bit of a rebellious phase wearing the odd splash of lime green, which is not in my palette!

But seriously it’s about dressing for you and not for others. If you are being authentic in your style you will feel more confident.

Accept Your Ugly Bits

Being authentic is about accepting yourself for who you are. It’s about accepting yourself and loving the good bits about your body.

Stop being so critical and really look at your body. Embrace the positives about your body. Even if seems insignificant use it as a starting point.

Take for example the colour of your eyes. You can really highlight this by wearing colours that make your eyes stand out.

highlight the parts you love

Recently when I was working with a client I asked her to tell me which parts of her body she loved. She told me that she really embraced her curves, how she felt sexy and feminine. She told me how she hated her thighs and wished her legs were thinner. Then she stopped and started to laugh.

An ‘aha moment’ as she realised that if her legs were skinny she’d look out of proportion.

Live Your Truth

As your life changes you may feel that to be authentic your wardrobe needs a makeover.

If you are going through a major life change, it can be a catalyst for seeking help with your style. I refer to this as the Chrysalis stage, as the butterfly starts to emerge and spread its beautiful wings. You want them to shine out and be authentic to you.

being authentic living your truth

Working with one client recently, she proudly showed me her recent purchase, a biker jacket.  This was a statement piece that she wanted to embrace a new phase in her life.   But to be authentic she wanted to embrace her soft feminine style.

We worked with the jacket pairing it with various accessories and in addition to the jeans/boots and soft blouse look, we created outfits with jersey dresses to create a gentle rock chic style.

Listen To Your Body

Sometimes being authentic is simply about listening to the messages your body is giving you.

There are some days when I want to feel nurtured.  All I want are soft natural fibres close to my skin. I want to be in touch with nature and feel its healing powers. I find it difficult to do this if I’m wearing man made fabrics.

listen to your body

Equally to be authentic to the way I’m feeling I want bright bold colours and fabrics that cling to my body in the right places. I want to stand out from the crowd. Sometimes I’m drawn to certain colours and other days where the same colour won’t look the same.

Your subconscious is often more in tune with your wardrobe than you give it credit for! Don’t fight it and let it guide you.

Don’t Always Speak The Truth

You are asked by a friend what you think about her new dress.   Believing it to be awful how do you handle it?

Being Authentic and Speaking the Truth

Do you feel it is better to just state your opinion and would you expect that from your friends in return?

Many of us do feel it’s important to be honest with our friends but equally we don’t want to upset them.

But remember that often when we are asking for someone’s opinion it’s because we don’t trust our own judgment.  We feel that something’s not right or we want our decision to be ratified.

So why not ask your friend what she likes about the dress. Ask her how does it make her feel?   You may draw out of her what she’s uncertain about so that she then makes a decision on the dress.

BTW from a professional point of view I would then expand on what worked with the dress and what doesn’t work.   As I see my role as a style coach and educator.

I want to leave you with one more thought about being authentic

be who you are

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clothing choices confidence

Clothing Choices: How To Have A Great Day

 

clothing choices confidence

I left the house today for a series of meetings and wanted to make an impact.

It was hot and I was going to be spending a lot of time in the car and wandering around.  So I chose a sleeveless sundress which wouldn’t crease when I got hot.   There’s nothing worse when you’re wilting in the heat to think that your clothes are dissolving into a heap too.  I also chose some distinctive sandals.

But there were deeper reasons why I decided on this particular outfit.  The last time I’d worn it had been to a fashion event in London and I’d received some great complements.  I’d worn it before at a networking event and several people had told me I looked lovely.

Complements make us feel good and give us confidence.  While basing our clothing choices purely on the opinions of others isn’t a great idea, there’s nothing wrong in having our own decisions about our wardrobe ratified.

It worked! Five minutes after I’d parked the car I was stopped by a lovely gentleman who told me what a beautiful dress I was wearing.  He went on to say how he loved to see people when they really made an effort to dress well. Result?  I had a very successful first meeting (not with the gentleman who had commented I hasten to add!).

My second meeting was also a great success and by the time I got to my third meeting of the day I was flying high as a kite (nothing to do with the quantity of caffeine ingested!).

Conversely do you find yourself resorting to well-worn comfort clothes when things aren’t going so well?  Our clothes can have such a big impact on us that it can distort our thoughts and judgements said Professor Karen J Pine.

The clothes we wear affect our behaviour, attitudes, mood, confidence, and how others respond to us.  Termed “Enclothed Cognition“ by Adam Galinsky and Hajo Adam.

clothing choices impact our behaviour

Let’s consider each of these elements in turn.

 

The Way We Behave

Take my example today.  I had just received a complement about my appearance, which reinforced my decision on my outfit, but more importantly made me feel fabulous.   The energy I exuded was positive and bubbly and helped to build the rapport quickly with the other party.

I’m not the only one testing this theory!  There have been more scientific studies have been carried out than my example today!

In one such study 50% of students taking a cognitive test were asked to wear a white coat. They were told that the coat belonged to a doctor. The students wearing the coat performed better in the tests than those who were not wearing the white coat.

We attach a symbolic meaning to our clothes. So using the doctors coats as an example. We associate doctors as:

  • Careful
  • Meticulous
  • Rigorous
  • Educated

 

Our Attitude

Today my outfit choice meant that I was feeling really positive.   I didn’t have to try hard I could simply be myself in meetings, feeling confident will automatically help us to relax.

Again this theory has been tested by psychologists.  In a study carried out at Harvard, this was tested by giving participants a pair of sunglasses.

Half of the group had been told they were wearing genuine designer sunglasses. The remaining members of the group were informed that their glasses were fake designer sunglasses.

The group was then given a competitive game as an exercise.  Those who were told they were counterfeit glasses were more prepared to cheat in a game that the group was assigned. They were also more suspicious of others!

Our Mood

How do heels make you feel? Most women feel more powerful when they are wearing heels, they act more confidently.  I certainly do although wearing heels was not even a consideration for  me running around between meetings in 27 Degrees!

So can our clothing choices have the opposite effect?

One woman I know has a ‘grumpy jumper’.   If she’s going through a low period she allows herself to put on the grumpy jumper and to allow herself to work through the emotions. When she is ready to face the world again the grumpy jumper gets consigned to the back of the drawer.

We can choose to dress for the way we feel when we get dressed. Alternatively we can dress for the way we want to feel.    I work from home a lot and my clothing choices around the house are pretty casual when I’m at my computer all day.  But when I come back from a meeting although I do get changed into jeans, shorts etc, I’ll usually leave my jewellery on.  It’s amazing how different this makes me feel.

clothing choices heels

Our Confidence

Who has heard of the Red Hat Society?   The idea originated from Sue Cooper in 1997.

Sue  bought herself a red fedora from a charity shop for $7.50 as a present to herself to celebrate her 50th birthday.

She immediately noticed how confident, liberated and playful she felt when she wore her red fedora. So Sue started to buy her friends a red hat for their birthdays. They added a purple outfit to their red hats and so the Red Hat Society was born.

With over a million members globally the Red Hat Society is a sisterhood. It’s a powerful social group which has helped to empower women. They spread their playful and positive approach to aging across the world.

A date for your diary – 25th April – The official Red Hat Society Day.

clothing choices red hat society

How Others Respond To Us

A study carried out at University of Hertfordshire, participants volunteered to have their photo taken in roughly the same body position.

The participants were asked to complete a questionnaire about their mood at the time they got dressed that morning.  After they had been photographed the research team pixelated out their faces from the images.

A second group were given the images and asked to determine the subject’s mood purely from the clothes they were wearing.

The study revealed a high level of accuracy in being able to determine the wearer’s mood by sampling looking at the clothing choices.

 

So how can we give ourselves a confidence boost every time we get dressed?

 

Know Your Colours

If we wear the right colours we look healthy and radiant. Other people are drawn towards us and want to engage with us.

They won’t necessarily know why they are drawn to looking directly into our eyes.

This can be really powerful if you’re meeting with someone and want to ensure their attention!

Conversely if we wear the wrong colours we can look tired or unwell. The colours may overwhelm us and people can be distracted by what we are wearing.

Have you ever been asked if you’re feeling okay, but until that point you’d been feeling fine?  What’s your reaction? Do you surreptitiously start feeling your forehead? Or do you make an excuse to disappear to the loo and poke your tongue in the mirror?

Well don’t – chances are that you’re simply wearing the wrong colours!

finding your style recipe

Understand What Suits You

Sadly most of us spend far too much time worrying about what we don’t love about our bodies.

80% of women are unhappy with their body image in the UK

87% of women opt out of an activity due to the way they feel about their body

These statistics are frankly frightening.  These findings are from the survey commissioned by Unilever as part of the Dove BeReal Campaign.

Wearing clothing that flatters your body is going to make you feel more confident. This applies to all of us, regardless of gender.

Style is a game of illusion. We can use styles, patterns, prints and textures to draw the eye in certain directions and change our shape. Conversely we can draw unwanted attention by wearing the wrong thing.

Take one very simple example. If you are a petite woman with an oversized handbag, this will have the effect of making you look even more petite.

Equally if you are a large scaled woman, and you carry a small clutch bag you will look bigger.

 

Clothing Choices Are Just About Colour and Style?

Not really we also need to think about our personality and how this is visible from our clothing choices.

With seconds to make that vital first impression, how much easier is it when someone ‘gets us’ immediately.

93% of communication when we first meet someone is non-verbal.

While our clothing isn’t the main factor in that non-verbal communication, it has more than a bit part to play.  So how do we express ourselves through our clothes?

By thinking about our clothing choices and what they say to the world.

Someone who is looking to appear calm and serene is hardly likely to rock up in a neon pink jumpsuit.   This is an extreme example but illustrates the point.

clothing choices reflect our personality

Discovering Your Style Recipe

When you’re thinking about the messages you want to communicate I’d recommend you start by doing this exercise. Keep a journal based on you, your wardrobe and your clothing choices.

The things you will be taking note of on a daily basis are:

  1. What Was I Wearing – remember how your clothing choices made you feel. Are there some pieces that are your ‘go to outfits’, in which you feel really confident?
  2. Do some items in your wardrobe attract complements when you wear them? They might not be clothes but could be accessories. Note these down too.
  3. Are there some colours that you wear that attract more complements or make you feel happier when you wear them?

Do this exercise for at least a couple of weeks.

When you’ve done this see what emerges. You will see some patterns emerging from your clothing choices. Whether it’s colours, shapes, fabric textures.

Take photos of the clothes that make you feel special and the ones you receive complements when wearing.

Look at the images – what words spring to mind? Become more mindful of the clothing choices that make you feel fabulous. This in itself will do wonders for your self-confidence!

I’d love to hear from you about your experiences of the way your wardrobe can help you to have a really fantastic day.

If you’d like to explore how I can help you to discover your style and make clothing choices that help you to feel fantastic, why not book a 30-minute call with me?

 

 

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women in business

Women In Business: Be Seen And Be Heard

This week I want to focus about women in business and in particular about being visible.

The UK has one of the strongest entrepreneurial economies in the world and a huge proportion of that being Micro Businesses run by women – source UK Govt*

  • There are 5.4M Small businesses in the UK
  • 95% of these businesses is defined as a micro business (less than 4 employees)
  • 20% of micro businesses are run by women – that’s 1.08M

Women In Business We Share Values

Many of the women in business that I meet and talk to share very similar values with regard to running a business:

  1. A burning desire to make a difference
  2. Passion for what they do which enables them to lead a fulfilled life
  3. Wanting to add value to their clients
  4. Freedom that a thriving business brings
  5. Flexibility that enables them to juggle business and family commitments

Women are more likely to have an innate desire to nurture and support others. This leads to many of them setting up a service-based business.    There are other factors too, which include lower start up costs and an increasing trend towards self-awareness and personal development.

When you run a small business, you are the business. There’s no shirking behind a corporate veil.   We, as business owners, are our brand and we need to own that.   How else can we run an authentic credible business that ticks the boxes for our values?

I Am My Brand

Let me use my business as an example. When I ran Want Her Dress, an online boutique, which I bought in 2013, I hid behind the concept that I had a ‘store’.

women in business

 

At first I would talk about ‘we’ and ‘us’ in terms of my business.  It was as if I was not an important ingredient in the marketing. That was wrong, but selling products I managed to get away with it, at least for a while!

When I trained as a personal stylist and launched Want Her Outfit two years ago, I had nowhere to hide.

People weren’t attracted to me because I could determine which colours to wear, help them to dress for their body shape or detox their wardrobe. They saw something in me that they liked.

Equally I know other women will not be attracted to me and will seek help elsewhere.

But until I showed up and was really visible how would anyone be able to decide?

 

Time to Stand Under The Spotlight …

Oh boy that was a big stomach churning moment.

So in true Carol fashion I ditched the water wings, held my nose and leapt into the deep end of the swimming pool!

Within a month of completing my styling course I was running my own webinar.

Volunteers needed talk at networking events and expos – I was there!  BTW it was cringingly awful at first but I knew that I’d never get better unless I practised (sorry to my early audiences!)

I was asked to present on stage (twice) at Pure London, the largest fashion trade show in the UK.

The University of Hertfordshire invited me to come in talk to students I virtually hugged the lecturer on the spot!

I’ve done two pre-recorded radio interviews and on 21st February I will be doing my first live radio on Radio Verulam as part of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.

I also run events, workshops and retreats.

Last year I took my first baby steps into vlogging and FB Live.

 

So why am I telling you all of this?

It’s certainly not so that I can brag about my list of achievements. But it is to show you how I have shown up and let the world find out who I am.

There’s a very personal journey involved too as I have grown in confidence and have got much clearer on my big WHY.

I would be the first to admit that mine has been a very scattergun approach. It’s not a coincidence that I struggle to say no! I’m very good at seeing what potential benefits an activity might bring. Oh and I’m up for a challenge!

With so many small businesses wanting to reach an audience, it’s easy to see why video marketing is becoming so big.

Here are some compelling reasons why small businesses cannot ignore the impact:

  1. By 2019 74% of all internet traffic will be video (KBCP)
  2. Including a video in an email improves click through rate by 200-300% (Forrester)
  3. Video builds trust. 64% of people are more likely to buy online after watching a video. (ComScore)

 

So What’s Stopping Us?

It’s a 4-letter word beginning with F – fear!

woman hiding behind iPad

The most common objections that we put up for not putting ourselves on screen are:

  1. I don’t like the sound of my voice – guess what you’re not alone. You’d be in a very small minority if you did.
  2. I hate the way I look in photos let alone video and seeing myself on screen
  3. I’ll ‘fluff my lines’ and never be able to remember what I’m going to say
  4. I haven’t got time to learn something else
  5. I don’t understand enough about the technology to do it myself and don’t want to pay for it

The concerns are very real. But the good news is that with the right help and support you can start to produce your own videos. This will not only help your business but will benefit you personally!

 

The C-word…

Confidence is the big one here:

  1. Understanding how to look fabulous on screen will help your self-confidence way beyond making videos
  2. Getting clear on your message and what you want to say to the world will help you to communicate more effectively and hone your message.
  3. Communicating more effectively will help you speak to your ideal client and more importantly for your ideal client to hear you.
  4. Learning how easy it is to use the technology will help your self -confidence and broaden your knowledge.

Last year when I met Karen Witchalls-Plunkett I fell in love with the initiative she’d started of Teens on Screen.

I was like an excited puppy over the concept of giving teenagers the opportunity to present. Icing on the cake was doing this in a studio environment. I adored the fact that it would help their self-confidence, teach them how to present and give them an insight into what was involved with being on screen.

Karen Witchalls-Plunkett

Lunch And Coffee

Over lunch in a pub garden and several coffee dates we conceived the idea of offering training for women in business.

Our aim is to help women become more visible, grow in confidence and overcome the barriers.  We will be doing this as an online training course, supported by weekly calls and a private Facebook group.

But before we get too carried away with our ideas we want to ensure that what we plan to offer is beneficial to women in business.

This is where we’d like your help. We are preparing an online survey and would love to get your input.

We’re not quite there with the final survey! But we would love to know if you’re up for taking part.

We would love to hear from you if you are:

 

  1. A woman in business
  2. Plan to grow your business
  3. Want to reach more clients
  4. Would love to feel more confident about being visible

 

Please complete the form below to register your interest and we’ll be in touch very soon.

source UK Govt* Department Of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy- Business Population Estimates For UK and Regions 2016

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petite women

Petite Women Aren’t All Small And Dainty

Last night I was banging my head on the desk!

I was doing some research on clothes for petite women. This is because I have a client consultation coming up and I wanted to be prepared.

Normally I enjoy a good old ramble around the Internet when I’m vision boarding for clients. However, this was a major hiking expedition through a forest without a map!

petite women fashion problems

The good news is that tenacity pays dividends and my stock of tenacity is high! At the end of this post I’m going to offer you a round up of some of the key brands that design and manufacture for petite women.

 Petite Women Are Just One Shape Aren’t They?

The dictionary defines petite as ‘attractively small and dainty’.

But the definition for most petite women is that you can be any body shape.  The only common factor is that you are less than 5’ 4” (or 1.62M). Petite women are not necessarily just small and dainty!

Therefore the principles of dressing for your shape are still there. However there is an added dimension that height will affect the choice of clothing. Think of it in those terms and in theory it becomes easier!

My tips are focused on the petite women who would like to look taller. I’ve also added guidelines according to body shape.

 1. Necklines

V-neck for petite women

Banana Republic V-Neck

V-Neck is the best shape for petite women. A V-Neck creates more of a vertical line and the illusion of height. In comparison a square or wide rounded neckline adds width. If you have a small bust then a shallower V- neck or an open necked blouse is an option.

 2. Sleeves

A universal tip for anyone wanting to add height is to wear three quarter length sleeves. The sleeves end on the most slender part of the arm.

Just be aware that wherever the sleeve ends it will create width. So for example a curvy petite will not suit a short-sleeved top that ends in line with the bust.

 3. Handbags

An oversized handbag will overwhelm you, particularly if you also have a slender frame.

Smaller bags, although they don’t allow us to carry so much clutter (!) will be more in proportion to your height.

Curvy petite women can carry slightly bigger bags, but I’d avoid the big tote styles if you want to add height.

4.  Belts and Jewellerytassel leather belt

A bulky wide belt will create a line across your body that will make you look shorter.   As any horizontal pattern or shape will do.

But if you want to add shape and definition to your waist a narrow belt is a great idea.

Petite women will look better if their jewellery does not overwhelm them.

5. Shoes and Boots

Petite Women Pointed Toes

Sam Edelman on Nordstrom

The obvious choice for adding height is to wear heels. But not all petite women are comfortable in heels. These tips are not heel dependent:

  • Avoid ankle straps – another horizontal line
  • Nude is great for adding height
  • Pointed toes will look better than rounded
  • Boots just below the knee

 6. Prints and Patterns

Vertical lines and stripes will add height.

An open jacket over a top creates a simple vertical line.   Piping on a pair of trousers is another great way to make legs look longer.

Slender petite women will be overwhelmed with big prints and patterns. Curvy petite women can wear larger patterns and prints.

7. Hemlines

The general rules are that hemlines should not finish on the widest part of the thigh or the calf. Again this is because the eye will be drawn to a horizontal line that will reduce height.

Just below or above the knee is the best way to add height.

Minis for slender petite women will give the illusion of longer legs.

 8. Tailored And Structured

petite women tailored jacket

Jeetly – Chelsea Jacket

Tailored clothes will add structure for all petite women.

A crop jacket that ends at waist level will help legs to look longer for slender petite women.  Curvy petite women with a tummy should look for a hip length jacket.

If fitted isn’t your style then at least keep top or bottom half more structured.

9. Trousers

The basic principles for petite women are to wear high-waisted trousers. High waisted trousers will make legs look longer. True but not all shapes can wear them and may find some styles uncomfortable.

Straight or skinny Boot cut shapes again will add length.   Details on jeans and trousers check out my Skinny Jeans Are So Last Year.

 10. Monochrome

Keeping an outfit in one colour will help petite women to add height without the changes in colour creating horizontal lines.

But if you want to break up the colours, try a scarf simply draped round the back of your neck and leave to hang down your front, another great way to create vertical lines.

What Did I Learn On My Hike?

I promised you a summary of where to shop for petite women, some of which I’m sure will be very familiar but other brands and sites may be new to you. Feel fee to add to this list in the comments, as I’m sure other petite women would be really interested in your experiences.

petite women where to shop

Banana Republic – Plays by the rules!

Seriously BR has a great selection of petite clothing, which follows the style guidelines for petite women.  Focusing on smart casual daywear that works for many modern office environments.

Gap – which incidentally owns BR.  Gap has always been a go to place for great casual basics. Slightly less formal than BR but caters well for the petite market.

NYDJ – Designed specifically for women of all shapes and sizes.

Jeetly – semi formal smart stylish clothing. Founded by a former optometrist who got fed up of being told by her patients ‘you don’t look old enough to be doing this job!’

Wallis – offering smart clothes and occasion wear with some more casual styles.

Free People – bohemian styles that are great and go down to size 2-4 but are not specifically styled for petite women.

Asos – has a great range aimed at mainly younger petite women

These general tips are helpful as a framework but there is still an important aspect to consider. You need to define your personal style. Decide what personal values you want the world to see and think about how best to reflect these in your clothes.

If you are petite I would love to learn about your style journey and where you shop for clothes.  Please post your comments below.

 

 

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AbCrack

AbCrack: Healthy Look Or Dangerous Obsession?

After reading the headline article in the Times Magazine on Saturday ‘Have You Seen My AbCrack?’ I felt compelled to comment.

Let me make it clear, just in case you’ve not read my story or previous blogs, I do not advocate extreme dieting or obsessive exercise.

A 20-year battle with anorexia and an obsession with exercise that literally brought me to my knees in the street, means I do have some experience to draw on here!

The article got me thinking with Professor Marika Tiggeman’s comments that ‘digital fitness reinforces yet another ideal that women can fail to live up to.’

I decided to see what else was out there and Googled AbCrack to find a cluster of headlines in July 2016.

‘The AbCrack is a dangerous Instagram trend’ (Good Housekeeping)

‘The Ab Crack is the newest body trend to spark social media outrage’. Oddchatter

‘What is the Abcrack’ asked the Telegraph

But is there a dangerous trend on social media? Not according to my research on hashtags!

Reach Impressions
Abcrack 8.6K 12.4K
Thighgap 774K 966K

So What’s My Point?

The headlines that suggest a lot of people are involved with something dangerous to put it succinctly.

If it were a trend going viral then the headlines would be more current. A week may be a long time in politics but four months is a decade online!

Presumably in July we needed a distraction immediately post-Brexit and the debacles at Westminster. Disappearing down an Abcrack might not have seemed such a daft option!

Headlines Aside What Are The Key Points? I’m not going to be adding a lot that’s not already out there but I am going to give you my view.

What Is An AbCrack?

The term AbCrack is used to describe the vertical line that appears to divide the abdominal muscles. The correct term is the Linea Alba (the white line).  This line and the accompanying six pack are only seen on very toned bodies.

The muscles have to be very developed through exercise and diet.   Diet also plays an important role in making the muscles more visible as many of us carry a layer of body fat over the stomach muscles.

AbCrack

AbCrack – Can Any Woman Have One?

No!   But that’s no different from other body parts. We don’t all have long legs for example!

We are all genetically different and this means that some people will be able to gain an AbCrack more easily than others.

Jessica Ennis Hill is a great example. Like many athletes natural ability, motivation and determination play a huge part, But scientists would also say that genetics have played a part.

So I Can Get An AbCrack With Exercise?

The right exercise will help to develop the abdominal muscles.

The trend for weight training, boot camps and interval training will all help to develop strong core muscles but this will not be all that’s needed.

A fitness plan that focuses on getting as lean as possible is really important.

In the Times Article, Celebrity PT Matt Roberts details a very rigid fitness plan you would need to follow for five days/week to get lean enough. Matt’s plan involves cardio, interval and resistance training.

AbCrack Toned Body

What Else Do I Need To Get An AbCrack?

Obtaining really defined abdominal muscles means following a very strict diet.

It means eating a lot of lean protein (chicken, eggs, white fish), vegetables and slow release carbohydrates.  It also means giving up dairy, sugar, refined carbohydrates and alcohol.

Some trainers recommend eating good fats in moderation. Other diets recommend cutting fat entirely to maintain a low body fat percentage.

For the muscle to be really toned the body fat percentage must be really low. This can lead to problems.

AbCrack Lean Protein

What Body Fat Percentage Would I Need?

For the muscles to be really ripped (defined) a woman would need to be 16-19% body fat.

There are lots of statistics quoted and misquoted about body fat percentage.

The guidelines published by the World Health Organisation state that a healthy women’s body fat should be 21%-33%. The wide variation takes into account age, fitness levels and genetics.

Generally fit women are between 21-25%. While 16-19% may not sound much lower than this, the implications for health are wide reaching.

What’s Wrong With A Low Body Fat?

If you have a low body fat percentage this can cause a lot of health problems.

A diet low in fat increases the risk of deficiencies in fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K). These vitamins are important for healthy sight, skin and bone density apart from anything else.

A low body fat percentage can also increase the risk of heart disease.

It can also depress the immune system and can affect menstruation with consequences for fertility.

Is There Anything Else I Need To Know?

Yes and this is quite scary.

Muscles look at their best in a dehydrated body.   For fitness competitions contestants manipulate their water consumption.

For every day up to a week before the competition contestants drink six or seven litres of water. In the days leading up to the competition water consumption is reduced to the point of only taking sips on the day of the event.

As soon as contestants drink normally again the intense definition is lost, therefore the images are distorted.

exercise the physical benefits

What Else Might Happen To My Body?

A strict diet regime to reduce body fat will also reduce the fatty tissue that makes up the breasts. Female body builders very often lose their boobs.

Megan Prescott interviewed in the Times article, advised that this didn’t matter as she could have implants! This attitude does not appear to be uncommon amongst women bodybuilders.

Their ethos is a toned and honed body, which they want to be ‘perfect’ as they define it.

So Should I Forget About An AbCrack?

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be fit and having a toned body.

A lean toned body will give you more confidence. I love the way my body looks now with my deltoid dips and defined back muscles. Add a tan to that and I feel really confident!

But it becomes a problem when it becomes an obsessive habit to try to obtain something that’s largely unattainable and not particularly healthy when taken to an extreme form.

Deltoid Dip

So What Should I Do?

The benefits of healthy eating are well-documented.  Personally I believe in following a balanced diet that does not omit major food groups on a long term basis.

I’m a great fan of Jamie Oliver,  Joe Wicks and Madeline Shaw who all promote healthy eating which is both easy to follow and advocates a balanced diet of sensible ingredients.

While the Times may have used the Byline ‘Goodbye Waif, Hello Weights’ there are major benefits to resistance training.  But again I believe in a balanced approach and seeking advice if you’re not sure what is right for you.

Therefore if have an exercise routine that incorporates resistance training and builds a strong core it will offer protection against disease. With the added benefits of knowing you look good will increase confidence.

So if you’re not sure where to start with resistance training I’d always recommend visiting a gym and seek advice from the staff. I would avoid the DIY approach using fitness apps or some online program. You need to know that your technique is right to get the best from the exercises and avoid injury!

If you are wondering what to wear to the gym that will flatter your body shape, why not download my FREE Guide to Workout In Style

Related posts: 725,000 Are Affected By An Eating Disorder , Workout Clothes Bad For Your Body?

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