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Wear What You Want to Be

If you are in life stage: Climbing the Ladder Posted May 25th, 2012
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Reporting in about my first session with Image Consultant Susan Hill…

After discussing my style homework—which consisted of several interesting questionnaires about my different life roles, things I like and don’t like in clothing, what I feel works/doesn’t work on my body type and what I need my clothes to do for me—I showed Susan my “style portfolio”.   She had asked me to look through magazines and store catalogs and tear out pictures of clothing or “looks” that appeal to me.  I did that and added these pictures to a file I’ve always kept of clothing I might want to buy.

All this preparation laid a great foundation for my work with Susan, and gave her a backdrop for deciding whether the clothing in my closet meets my style criteria.  Before we ventured forth to my closet (which I had pre-organized to an unusually “neat as a pin” state), Susan asked me to write down style words that describe how I want to look in my clothing.

With my words in hand–classic with a twist, elegant, refined, interesting, smart, professional, authoritative and finished—we started critiquing all my clothing.   Each piece in the “save” pile had to fit for one of my life roles (businesswoman, mother, wife, etc.), and be in synch with my style words.

What a cathartic and fun “all about me” experience!  Who else would look through every piece of clothing you own and give you a totally honest appraisal?  Finally, all those “iffy” things hanging in my closet were transported to the Goodwill pile.  Out went the Pucci-esque long jacket with the jazzy pink and green design.  Ixnay to the jacket with the exaggerated Peter Pan color.  Toss the two dresses I had a seamstress make in a lightweight linen (that looks more wrinkled than professional).  No to this and no to that until my closet looked slightly anemic in quantity, but much more vibrant in desired style persona.

My first session with Susan also focused a great deal on fit and proportion—something that can be hard to judge when you’re looking in the mirror on your own (or when you are getting the self-serving opinion of a retail store saleswoman on commission).  We looked through my shoes and jewelry, and decided that my “classic with a twist” is better executed in unique and interesting accessories than bold fabrics.   We started thinking about the outfits I could make with the clothing left in my closet. And the last step of this first session was to think about the clothing I needed to buy (for upcoming events and for life in general), and where I am likely to find what I need.

Before Susan left she was already on the phone with one of her fashion contacts ordering pants and jackets for me from a label that I know fits me well.  I watched this efficiency with awe and gratitude:  without a lot of dreaded shopping there is no way I can easily know what’s “out there”.  Susan streamlined the research and shopping process and spared me a lot of precious time.

Since my first image consulting session, I’ve thought a lot about my style words, and I consciously reach for clothing that projects my authentic image—not one dictated by others in or outside the fashion industry.  I understand more about what will flatter my body type, and I’m trying to always wear (except for those quick trips to the market in my exercise clothes) outfits that reflect who I want to be and how I want to be perceived.  I’m learning the value of having well orchestrated “go to” outfits—even very casual ones–that make getting dressed a breeze.  With this streamlined approach to my wardrobe, I’m finding I’m a lot more comfortable, confident and productive at work and at play.

Next session with Susan: The Shopping Trip.  Susan Hill, a Certified Image Consultant with the London Image Institute, can be reached at susanmhill@mac.com or 508-258-9428.  

            • Eliminate the “shoulds” that linger about your wardrobe:  you should wear this because your mother always said it was appropriate, you should be able to fit into this style that all the chic women are wearing… whatever.
            • Get over the guilt of discarding perfectly good clothing that doesn’t fit your style words.
  • Take more expensive clothing you no longer want to consignment shops–and you’ll get some return on your investment.

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