Confident Personal Style – part 3 – start on the inside

Happy New Year.

Thank you again for the emails I’ve received about the Confident Personal Style idea over the holidays – they’re giving me some great ideas for posts over the coming months.

One theme that has come up a lot is: how do you get started?

I’ll be writing about the practical issues such as where to look for clothes, how to put the style together, how to make the right choices for you, how to consistently apply the Capsule Wardrobe approach, how to ensure your style develops with you as you get older over the coming weeks.

But the first steps lie much closer to home – in your current wardrobe and in your own mind – in understanding how you see yourself and giving yourself permission to spend time, effort and money to look the best you can.

Giving yourself permission to go on this journey is the key to making it fun and successful.

I believe that the vast majority of women deep down want to look as good as they can, but our culture has come to discourage it as vain, shallow, frivolous or wasteful (I’ve written about this in more detail here – although lately I’m not sure Michelle Obama is quite the model of style that she used to be). 

And with fashion magazines mostly showing clothes that are unwearable, too many choices and not enough advice, it is not surprising that many of us haven’t really worked out what we feel about ourselves – and either wear clothes that are too young (because we follow the magazines) or too frumpy (because we can’t find an alternative).

With too many choices and not enough advice, many women will tell you that they don’t really care about how they look.  But I honestly believe that anyone with any self-respect does care.  What they actually mean is that they don’t know where to start or find someone to help – not just with clothes, but hair, make up, nails, accessories – all of it together.

Some years ago, a leading fashion journalist decided to give me a challenge.  She introduced me to an incredibly plain, but quite successful woman who was very sceptical about the whole style thing and asked us to dress her.  This was probably my biggest – and most successful – challenge. At the end of the session, the woman burst into tears – happy ones.  She said she had never thought she could look attractive and realised that she had been inventing excuses not to have to make the effort, because she didn’t know where to start.

Our brains are almost hard wired to make these excuses and make them feel like valid reasons sitting like demons on our shoulders.  Here are some excuses to debunk in your own mind to help smooth the path your confident personal style:

  • I couldn’t spend the money
  • I don’t have the time
  • What will people say?
  • I don’t want to seem vain
  • My figure is faulty
  • What if I stand out?
  • I don’t want to play by men’s rules

These fears may be engrained and hard to shift.  Over the next few weeks, at the end of the regular posts, I’ll look at them one at a time and give you some reasons to not to use them.

Next week’s post: Assessing what you feel about your current wardrobe.

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3 Responses to “Confident Personal Style – part 3 – start on the inside”


  • What do you mean re: The First Lady, Michelle Obama? I think I missed your message….

    • First, let me say that I have only the highest regard for The First Lady. My comment was purely a sartorial aside based on how she is photographed in the media.

      When she first came into the spotlight (over here in the UK, at least), it looked like the advice she was getting showed a keen understanding of her position and her shape; which is why the UK media picked up on her as a role model for high flying women showing an interest in looking good – and dressing appropriately for her role.

      I still think she looks very nice, but it now seems more hit and miss – she seems to be experimenting with the trendier designers and little cardigans from J Crew and I’m not sure if that’s because she’s getting the wrong advice or just no longer getting advice.

      Warmest regards

      Susie

  • Happy New Year! I love your blog and am looking forward to MORE of your tips!

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