One of the coolest things a client reported to me was when her daughter said to her, “I love your style, Mom. You’re expressing more of who you are now than ever before.” My client was seventy at the time of that compliment.
On another occasion, the same client was complimented while in line at the Mill Valley Film Festival. The young woman standing behind her said, “I’ve been checking you out. I want everything you’ve got on. You look great from head to toe!”
Being noticed for great style isn’t restricted to age. It’s possible at any decade.
What does it mean to show up?
What’s happening in the examples above?
A woman is being seen.
Her radiance surrounds her like an aura.
When dressed in clothes, colors and accessories that suit her and express her personality, she’s dressing from the inside out.
A natural outcome is that she revels in self-acceptance. She feels great about herself. This can be a first-time experience for a woman in her thirties, forties, fifties, sixties or beyond. I’ve seen it happen a lot. It’s a moving moment. When a woman shows up and allows herself to be seen, it’s pleasing to herself and everyone who comes into contact with her.
Clothes remind you of who you are
I was with a client recently creating new outfits from her existing wardrobe. When I asked her if anything had changed, if there was anything new she wanted to be expressing about herself, she said yes. She wanted to showcase her uniqueness and not look like she was dressed in a recognizable designer label.
While composing her new outfits I focused on looks that showed her artfulness, her gentle creativity and her beauty.
When the look comes together, it totally announces itself. I can’t hold back my enthusiasm. “Wow! Look how unique you look. You look so interesting. People will look at you and say to themselves ‘I want to know more about this woman.'”
Erin, my assistant, reinforces with her own words what she sees about the outfit and what it’s saying. It helps the client to see it through our eyes.
I know when the client gets it. I can tell by the softness in her eyes. Sometimes tears form. We’ll be looking in the mirror together and she smiles at her reflection. She may say, “I never knew I could look like this!”
That’s the magic of clothes.
One time after I’d done the intial style, closet and shopping appointment with a new client, we were back at her San Francisco flat and I was putting outfits together. She was looking at herself in the mirror with soft eyes. I asked her what she saw. She said, “I see the me that was forgotten.”
That’s the power of clothes. They can help you see what’s true about yourself. They can help you see what’s been invisible until now.
Clothes can speak for you without you ever opening your mouth. An outfit can tell your story more efficiently than your own words can!
Speak about yourself through your outfit
There’s one question I ask every new client during the style assessment appointment: “What do people know about you after five minutes?”
I’ve heard answers like these:
You can count on me.
I’ll get the job done.
Then I’ll ask them: “What do you wish they knew about you but don’t?”
Here are some of the answers I’ve gotten:
I wish they knew how irreverant I was.
I wish they could see that I graduated at the top of my class.
I wish they knew how sensitive I was.
I wish they knew I was fun to be around.
I wish they knew I was available.
Irreverant, intelligent, sensitive, fun, available. I take those words and create outfits to match those qualities. It’s not about creating a nice looking outfit. It’s about creating an outfit that tells the truth.
(My Glossary of Style Words from Adorable to Urban and everything in-between is in Brenda’s Wardrobe Companion: A Guide to Getting Dressed from the Inside Out (pages 77 through 86) is a great reference for getting ideas about how to dress a word.)
When I’ve created an outfit for a client using the words they’ve given me, I’ll say, “When in the next two weeks can you wear this outfit?” I want them to experience the outfit and the message it’s conveying as soon as possible.
When a client asked me about that particular time frame I said, “I just don’t want you to forget about yourself. I don’t want you to go back to sleep and forget what you’re wanting to express, right now, in 2016. If you practice wearing this and seeing yourself this way, it will start to feel natural.”
What are you ready to express?
What would you like to be expressing about yourself this year?
Choose a word, or two, or three. Then play with the idea of wearing that quality.
What would you wear to look pretty?
What would you wear to look cheerful?
What would you wear to look creative?
What would you wear to look sophisticated?
What would you wear to look relaxed?
What would you wear to look playful?
Step one is getting clear about what you want to express. Step two is then going to your closet with your word in mind and seeing what jumps out at you as a way to express that word.
We’ll talk more about the “how” of this later in the month. But play with this idea. Try to build an outfit that expresses this new thing you want to be expressing now in 2016.
Let me know how it goes, okay?