Karen contacted Stylefish during the Summer and told me about her long career in the corporate sector. Having recently taken the decision to make some life changes (including leaving her job), on Karen’s wish list was to do more things for herself, including getting into fashion! Karen loves style and fashion (always has) and was interested in my personal stylist training course as something completely new for her to get into! She began her journey on my 12 week evening course in September and has very kindly been keeping a diary of her learning, her insights and her own highs and lows to share with you all!
Each week I will update this post with Karen’s latest updates and I just want to thank Karen for agreeing to be part of this special blog series I will be doing with students! Sharing is caring after all and what better way to see what it’s all like than from my lovely students! You will find my Spring 2016 course dates here.
Karen’s Personal Stylist Training Journey
While I am nervous it is more of a “nervous anticipation” of all to follow in the next 12 weeks as myself, Helen and Cecilia have embarked on our 12 week Personal Styling Journey on the 30th September with Stylefish and Julie.
Having worked for 20 years in the Financial Services Area and opting for Voluntary Redundancy in July this year this was something completely different in my life and I was very excited about learning something new, gaining new perspectives and embracing all opportunities that might arise over the next 12 weeks…
In the last few years in my previous career , I had moved into a more management and “people” role and combined with a love for clothes my “inner self” or that all important “gut instinct” was telling me that this was the right time to try this and I was open to all! Would be great if found a career out of it but worst case scenario I would enjoy learning and improving on my own style so nothing too shabby with that!
We’ve all experienced those precious moments when for whatever reason one feels elated and on cloud nine from feeling an inner confidence very hard to describe so to me it would be the greatest feeling if I was responsible for someone else feeling like that from gaining a sense of their own style , feeling empowered in their own self and feeling that they “look damn good” basically!!
So….. how did I feel after Week 1 ? Was any of the above going to materialise or transfer to reality ?
Yes I felt it was ….
On leaving the biggest comfort and “take away” was that apart from little tit-bits and discussion points on clothes (which were great by the way) we had focused pretty much on female psychology and female thought processes …the “comfort” and “take away” being that this was going to be about real women, every day women and not fashion models and magazine women.
In fact the core of all seemed to be on making real and every day women feel like models and magazine women in that they feel confident …
So there it is the C word, if I was to sum up in one word what I got from Week 1, it’s that : CONFIDENCE !!
My biggest learning was that our journey was all about allowing clients to feel confident and allowing everything else to fall on from that … giving them the confidence to know they are wearing the clothes not the clothes wearing them , giving them confidence in their bodies and shapes and feeling the power that a good Personal Stylist could have to “do good” .
N.B I need to be confident too !!
So end of Week 1…we had all got into the ship and the ship had set sail smoothly, our rods were cast and we were off (style) fishing ….
So Week 2 and confidence growing the “Body Shape” voyage left port …to me thus far I think this is where I learnt the most and caught the biggest fish…
Despite reading the fashion magazines etc I had never focused on the whole body shape theory and would always have gone on instinct and what suited / what didn’t, what looked right and basically what didn’t and although that is part of it, I am learning there is so much more to it!
I felt that women might have got too caught up in shapes and the whole positive / negative connotations that the media/ fashion world give to them so hand on heart I wasn’t too familiar …
However, I was here to learn and change and with Julie’s brilliant teaching and practical examples during the class I saw things differently and had the lightbulb moment when we talked about proportions/ shoulder width and making the corrections wherever necessary to balance the proportions. It is thankfully all making perfect sense and how had I not thought or seen this before??
How many times have I seen where others wear something tighter where they’re smaller to show it off but instead has the effect of highlighting where they’re bigger instead ?
How many times have I done it maybe??
So again the lightbulb moment and perfect sense shining – proportions , proportions and proportions and balancing them out.
I could see the reason behind the notorious body shapes and how important it is for a personal stylist to make the assessment and proceed accordingly.
Can’t emphasise enough the relaxed atmosphere in the class and the teaching methods deployed by Julie to bring all these precious fish to the surface in my head and while a lot to learn, a lot was slotting into place too.
Body Shapes fresh in mind from a week of studying strangers almost everywhere I went (so buoyed up from the previous week learnings!), we now started to get into the nitty gritty if you like of literally applying clothes to the 5 shapes which while great fun was also very useful and provided a great base and sounding board between us all.
What surprised me was how difficult it was at times but with that the learning and take away of how important all this preparation work would be when working with real clothes! I also learnt about the importance of bringing it back to the shapes and thinking the clothes through properly in our heads.
We all started to think more about ‘styling’ as opposed to just clothes and reinforce the theory in our heads that we need to maximise the styling in certain areas and minimise it in other areas and how you might do that.
“Fuss” was a word we tossed about a few times…drawing the eye to certain areas of there body depending on their shape taking it away elsewhere.
What a great word though and back to our C word above, what better way to instill confidence in someone than to make a fuss of them and do it well..something to really think about and hold as an aspiration as a stylist …
Week 4 started as we re-visited our Blue Peter Days and prepared our collages. As I worked away on preparing same for the Pear Shape, I again realised the difficulty in applying the theory to practical examples and how it’s only in doing that you could say we learn.
Was there a sense of trepidation creeping in for the next week in Dundrum maybe? (Where we will have our first shop floor styling experience!).
Yes, but overshadowed by the excitement and realisation (from Julie I must add!) that despite any doubts in ourselves as we struggled with our shapes, the very fact that we were struggling meant we were thinking more about our shapes and approaching it the right way. As a personal stylist you must think about the complete look, not just the bits you want to show off and hide as women!
There was no point in my Pear lady having the most brilliant tops and fabulous styling in the top area if I didn’t have anything right on the bottom. Yes, my fishing rod was still in the sea and I hadn’t caught anything just now but we were getting there and the fish would come…
From that we started to talk about scale, fabric, balance and proportions and so 3 very exhausted students left an hour later with loads of reading material and back up guides for the future.
Biggest surprise for me with all this was the amount of detail. Basically who would have ever thought that there was so much involved in clothing the human body? So much to remember and try and draw on but as Julie told us, the best stylists don’t learn everything off but by practice learn by doing and by understanding the theory! It is better better to dip in and out and still be guided by gut instinct and our body shape learnings.
The seeds were sown but there to be nurtured as and when we need…
Roll on Dundrum ..
Flat shoes and ready for action we all descended on the shop floor for the 1st foray into getting a real idea as to what’s involved as a Personal Stylist and some of the challenges and considerations we would face.
Where do I start?!
I know I personally almost fell to my car 3 hours later but was really exhilarated at same time!
As we worked through the various tasks allocated by Julie, we quickly began to realise again how important it is to “do” in learning.
Speed, quick thinking, observing as much as you can and thinking ahead all qualities/ useful attributes.
To me also preparation would be key and if at all possible knowledge of the store.
Being honest however what I learnt most is that it’s not about me and on a sensible level never would have thought it was, but yes at the back of the head I would have a fear that there would always be the inclination to gravitate towards the clothes I might like and bring my style to bear on someone else. I think that’s what I took away from the night most and the challenge to be open to everything in a shop and the exercises on the night all set out showing me that.
Also I’m back there again with the Confidence Word but I could really see how important it is in being a Stylist, I got things right on the night but I also got them wrong and that’s ok. It’s all part of the learning!
It does make you ask what happens if that happens with a real person ?
Yes I’m sure it will and I will need the confidence to fix it when it does and engage appropriately to explain the reasoning behind it and work though with my client.
To summarise, really useful to have that session included just now as brought together everything so far and gave me an idea as to how challenging the work could be which is good as it makes one try all the harder! Was much harder than thought selecting various items under time pressures and good to know the challenges at this stage. Julie is really showing us all the excitement that comes with personal styling!
Loved the clothes in House of Fraser and having real challenges to work on!
Brilliant also seeing what everyone else picked especially with the “Apple” shape and fabric strength became much clearer in my head.
Colour here we go…..
So on a very dark night but having been preceded by an exceptionally bright November day full of Autumnal colour, it was very apt that we started on something new and entered the world of Colour styling.
I quickly realised that I would never think of the four seasons quite the same way again (!) as we became immersed in the new fabulous colour terminology surrounding them as Julie led the way through our new learnings and started to guide us in thinking and approaching colour in Personal Styling the right way.
Something great was that we were going to learn both methods of colour assessments, both the Seasonal Analysis and more detailed Tonal Analysis so while all a little surprised as to how much involved, was also the awareness that with knowledge comes power and in time we would have the power hopefully to transform and bring colour properly both into our own lives and other people’s …
Is someone a warm or a cool shade and in delving more then could they be “bright or soft” or “deep and light” and in working our way through a “live” assessment on one of us began to see how works in practice!
Biggest take away for me was probably how much involved and how difficult it was to begin with. We all have an idea as to colours that might work or not work with ourselves but didn’t realise the extent of detail you could go into! The take away for me was how important it is and the effect the right colour can have on someone and I was starting to have another light bulb moment like Week 2 (body shape and proportions ) – how much the colour can change someone’s face, their eyes and how much could light them up completely or bring them down ..
Another important point was that Julie emphasised a few times how we should not get tied up in learning the various factors involved ie bright and soft / deep and light etc and instead try and feel our way through it and 3 days later I can see how true this is as it is only in feeling and understanding the word connectivity and colours associated with seasons am I knowing it and feeling more confident …had I straight out learnt it off, it wouldn’t mean the same thing at all!
I’m now really excited about learning more and getting my own assessment done in addition to blending in secondary colours in lip stick and make up etc …
In time the effect on someone’s wardrobe (and mine …) will be all so much better too and on my purse. How great it will be to possess a wardrobe full of easy items to mix and match and have the confidence to know that all really work!
Next, week we continue with colour!
The old sayings are always the best ones especially the one where they say that time flies when you’re having fun and no truer than now as Week 7’s class was upon us ! Where has the time gone ?? Hard to believe that we are past the mid point and sailing happily towards the coast … for now though the anchor was well and truly in place and on with colour !!
While being completely honest I was still very much in awe of the detail involved and yes…of how difficult it actually was! I was also delighted as to how much had made sense over the week from reading and thinking on it so I was anxious to learn more as were all! So it happened that a supposed “quick” recap on the previous week actually turned into a full discussion where we started to slot more into place as we discussed and negotiated and had to come up with the different variations / shades for any single colour …
(Only appropriate to say at this point how much we appreciate how easy it is to ask questions and have a discussion because of the small class and definitely one of the advantages with the “Stylefish” course and that we are encouraged to ask as much as we want and can ( which we did !!).
So much as that sounds confusing, it actually wasn’t! Being a true Irish colleen of course well aware of the old 40 shades of green but now actually delved more and while we set about only finding 4 variations of green (not 40!) I began to see how colour is very different for every season and hence for everyone! ….and that yes everyone can wear every colour ONCE they find the correct shade ie let’s look at Red :
- Postbox Red as a solid Deep Winter Colour
- Rust as a warm Autumnal look
- Watermelon Red as cool Summer look
- Coral for Warm Spring
And so on…
Didn’t dare mention the 50 Shades of Grey though…..
Julie probed more into the tonal analysis and slowly we began to appreciate the value here and the skin undertones which paved the way for the hard work of the night as we completed the real assessments on ourselves having gained some confidence from Helen’s assessment the previous week.
As Julie always says – the real learning comes from doing and this is where I learnt the most from the night …in essence from having a perception of what I thought my colour assessment would be and being someway wrong (but now knowing what I am looking at and for!).
The best way is definitely to learn!!
So without a doubt the biggest highlight and also biggest takeaway was where I learnt that it’s not about the actual colours but the effect of the colours on my skin, my eyes, my face essentially and so I’m not a warm Autumn just because I like those colours but a cool Winter because of the contrast between my dark hair, pale skin and blue eyes and rightly or wrongly it took me to the end of the class to see this!
I am so happy for it to have clicked though (even if was at end ) that going to say it again … it’s not the actual colours but the effect of the colours on my face – hair, skin and eyes !
So I’m Winter instead of Autumn but okay I can take being Cool, Bright and Deep any time…however the colours in my wardrobe are a different matter!
As Scarlett (see another shade of red !) O’Hara famously said “I can’t think about that today, I’ll think about that tomorrow …..”
It’s not all bad though as while I thought Autumn would come out for me, interestingly enough I do possess and do tend to wear Winter shades a lot more than I thought proving the science behind the Tonal Analysis to be correct in that people do tend to gravitate towards the colour in their own individual make ups (and that I did have some clue and a right eye for it before!!)
Julie pointed out that it is a process which will take time (to accept your colours if they are different to what you expected) so I’m going to give it the time and like I said last week feel my way though it …and by being wrong with myself means I am now all the more empowered as I know why I was wrong and learnt which will only help all the more going forward…..
I am going to move outside my comfort zone now somewhat and rightly so..how could I expect to encourage anyone else to do that if I don’t do it first??
Also yes work with accessories and with other colours in the same colour families as we discussed also in the class.
Onwards and upwards as we dock next week and leave for Dundrum again focusing on picking colours on the shop floor! The fun goes on…..
So here we were back in Dundrum Town Centre for our 2nd visit there and 2nd experience of working with real clothes in real shops etc !
Having come through our 1st experience there in 1 piece, have to say was really looking forward to the evening and not as nervous even though focusing on the massive world of colour and all it involves…but for the moment 3 excited fish set off with Julie for some fun..
Following a quick recap on the seasonal colours ( Warm Spring and Autumn ) and ( Cool Winter and Summer) and all the tones ( Bright / Soft and Deep / Light in addition to our Warm / Cool ) off we set to practice. What uppermost in our minds and discussed with Julie was that here we were in November on the tail of Autumn, so how were Spring and Summer colours going to work out – would be find any?!
We quickly learnt that if working with a client who fitted into the Spring or Summer palette, we wouldn’t expect them to not shop at this time of year would we!? So yes of course we would find them and that precisely was what we were learning to do.
So commenced with task of selecting 3 warm colour items and 3 cool items and we soon became immersed. To me I immediately set out about selecting 3 gold items for my warm items and 3 silver items for my cool items (easy to find as Christmas bling starting to appear! ) but knew that was too easy an answer and we all followed up on that task by leaving aside the cool and silver and starting to look at other colours ie Royal Blue for Cool and Winter, warmer and brighter shades of Green for Spring but also looking at cooler Greens and you know what ? ..that for some colours they could work for any season and there are no rules sometimes when it comes to styling … go with your gut and instinct and if it works it works!! Don’t overthink or analyse but be guided by tones and colours.
Very soon we were completely working the floor in the House of Fraser and comparing various colours …
Was that a cool pink or a warm one ? Who would that particular blue suit ?
Opinions were thrashed around and mirrors checked as we tested ourselves and worked on the thought process … I mentioned the bling word above so yes being the season that’s in it we discussed the effect of sparkles and how they “brighten” an outfit instead of softening it and l learnt in particular how a winter dress (or a winter dress as I would have called it in my previous thinking and life pre Stylefish) was actually perfect for a Summer person as a cool grey and so on …loads to learn but loving it!
We also looked at tricks and tools of the trade used by the shops in laying out clothes with matching items/ tones / accessories together.
So on to our final stop for the night in Hobbs where we were immediately met by brilliant pops of colour …here Julie shared and showed us some real gems in the way she styled and put outfits together matching (or should I say deliberately mismatching !) colours, different prints , dots and stripes and gained a real insight into the value of a good Personal Stylist (very much reluctant to mention the lightbulb moment again as I’ve overused that term too many times already but this was another one!!)
Being completely honest I tend to stick to matching items, matching colours, shoes, bag / belt etc and through the work we were completing on colour I started to see that don’t need to do that, where appropriate I need to rock it up and not play it safe as much.
I absolutely loved the “not so normal “outfits ..I would quite happily wear them, I would feel confident, different and great and that is what styling all about … I mentioned last week putting myself outside of my comfort zone but now this was becoming clearer…
So after 3 intense weeks on the colour journey do I know it all ? Of course not as always learning but have been taken on a magical trip through a colour kaleidoscope where this is only the beginning and I am looking forward to combining it all with the body shape!
For now it’s back to the classroom next week..
Were we really here on Week 9 ? Where has the time gone ??
As all settled back into the class after our 2nd shop floor experience the previous week, a sense of impending panic and disappointment was apparent as all too soon the classes would be finished! While largely finished with our colour work after the previous 3 weeks we all enjoyed another recap and discussion on same, in particular our thoughts on Dundrum and again a recap on the tonal system and how it all links together.
Very important to connect the seasons too and be aware of the overlap and to EXPERIMENT and play around with the colour families … CONFIDENCE and being brave and as I write I really feel that …there are no rules within the rules as such!!
We spoke about The Stylefish rule of three in addition to layering our basics and adding accent colours. So it stands to reason if we’re dressing for our correct body shape and we now know what colours to wear what’s next??
Yes, there it is that dreaded wardrobe (dare I extend it to wardrobe(s), chests of drawers, hot press, etc ..), the contents therein and that declutter word !
While aware that studying in how to offer a brilliant wardrobe decluttering service to a client or use it in conjunction with all else, I feel completely connected here as while I can thankfully admit to being in an “okay” place now wardrobe wise I wasn’t always and I was that soldier not knowing where anything was, not being able to hang anything up properly and literally dreading opening the wardrobe.
You know one of those presses where the ironing board and hoover is jammed in together and one almost has to say a novena before braving it …well yes the wardrobe was something similar ….why do we do it??
It’s soul destroying and literally clutters the brain and head space!!
So yes I said above I’m in an “okay” place now but okay isn’t brilliant and could always be better and with recent work changes in my life, completing this course is my fresh start clothes wise!
I’ve learnt so much in recent weeks and hand on heart for all the clothes in my possession that are right, there’s the same amount that aren’t …
So while I really want to help someone else making the fresh start this way, I will also be doing it myself and by the end of tonights class I could see that even being left with only a few items (but the right ones ) is better than an abundance of the wrong ones.
So some little tips but big take aways for me ….
- Wire hangers …yes they’re one of Satan’s tools as Julie pointed out but I still have some – get rid Karen!
- The maybe pile you create when decluttering is not to be bigger than any other pile and is really only for the definite maybe items, not something you know deep down is not right … if you never wore it, are you going to really wear it now ?
- If you never loved it what’s suddenly going to change?
- Live for today, not tomorrow ..if it doesn’t fit now , don’t keep it.
- Only items ready and available to be worn should be in one’s wardrobe / press etc – not anything that needs the dry cleaner and oh yes all those bits that you’re going to get around to altering some day ( including sewing on buttons Karen ….!)
- A clear wardrobe is the sign of a clear mind!
- Look forward to feeling great knowing that no matter what you pull from wardrobe, it will look good on you after the process.
- So what if a smaller pool to pull from?
- So what if the same item pulled a lot?
As Julie said : love your clothes and they will love you..
Loving yourself in the right clothes = RESULT !!
Week 10 and 11
WEEK 10 AND 11
All too aware that our journey in the classroom is drawing to a close, we knew that the next 2 weeks would be vital in pulling together everything we had learnt so far and becoming as confident as we could be in the world of Personal Styling…. so with this in mind it only stands to reason that we would focus somewhat on ourselves again, our own style and awareness (yes a tall order in hindsight ……!!)
So, fresh from wardrobe planning the week before we continued on the same vein discussing the essentials of a good wardrobe and the nitty gritty of our own personal style.
Everyone has an idea of what style they would like or admire, be it emulating a certain personality and their look but on a day to day basis what do we actually do?
Alongside coming up with our own ideas of the essential components of a good wardrobe – some capsule items we discussed … pair of black and blue jeans , little black dress, good structured jacket, nude and black heels, white shirt, statement coat, set of camisole tops, leather skirt….
In coming to terms with the gap between where we want to be and where we are now we can start to bring about change, but first we must look at our style personality, that reason why certain styles from our wardrobe get lots of wear and others lay unworn!!
You have to be honest with yourself when it comes to your style personality. For example, If asked how one likes to wear colour one could wish that they wear strong, bright and “get noticed “ colours but have to admit that mostly they go for the more muted look on a day to day to day basis. Similarly with Jewellery .. .does one reach for the “quirky” piece or the ‘eye catching’ statement piece or maybe when they really think about it match their accessories with their clothes and keep it simple most days?
Which is right and which is wrong?
Neither of course but too often there is an element of confusion where we (1) think we are something we are not! or (2) the actual place we stand in right now is the most important. What do our clothes need to do for us? Sure, we all want to be more daring in our styling, but is that who we want/ need to be everyday? Self awareness of where are are and where you are trying to get to is key !!
We looked at it there are 6 different style personalities to help us narrow things down:
- City Chic
Each one having it’s own different characteristics ie when we talk about Classic we are talking about the person who love good tailoring, understated elegance and neutral tones.
Creative on the other hand is all about looking different, vintage looks perhaps, quirky accessories…think of the Carrie character in Sex and the City.
Natural is what is says! Minimal fuss, likes to keep it simple, like low maintenance clothes whereas Dramatic also is what it says and is more a bolder look and you do not like to shrink away from being noticed!
Romantic likes more feminine pieces and long floaty and pretty clothes whereas City Chic possesses that almost Parisian chic and grown up look.
N.B and word of warning : Over simplifying and only mentioning attributes of the above very briefly…. !!
Understanding style personalities means it becomes much easier to discover our style NOW and bring this to bear on our wardrobe. Happy to report that I was pleasantly surprised that in working through it all, my style appeared to be Dramatic (no Divas I swear though!). This a style I would admire and aspire to but didn’t realise I was actually in that zone as much as I was … I now know the type of clothes and look I want ..one of the capsule wardrobes looks we talked about was a black leather skirt ..however for me this might be a variation on the norm ie a green leather skirt with pleating perhaps. As a dramatic it is important you look for that element that is slightly different!
Similarly, a capsule structured blazer for me would be one with a bit more funk to it. Armed with this awareness I won’t be settling for second best with my purchases going forward. I will only be buying something when I know it has that slight edge and I feel that it is bringing something special to my life and wardrobe and so eliminating all those “just okay” clothes purchases.
The best learning for me here is in having self awareness of myself and feeling more confident in what is most important to me and my style so as a Personal Stylist I now can share this with others.
Very sadly our time learning with Julie was coming to an end ……well were almost brought back to Week 1 where we had focused on women’s minds and needs and now brought all of this to bear when we ran through personal consultations in detail …
- The need to listen
- The need to understand
List goes on as we worked through check lists and Julie shared important tips and advice with us.
So who remembers the old Maths equations too? We talked about the Cost per wear of an item and the need to factor this in … think about something you have bought and maybe spent quite a lot on but divide the cost of the item plus maintenance by the number of times have worn it and can work out if it was worth it?
We also spoke of the dreaded Occasion Shopping. The days we splurge on an outfit never to be worn after the occasion! I have learnt now that a Personal Stylist will work with a Client on fitting yourself to the occasion not the other way around!
Be happy in one’s look and be mindful of where one spends most of their time even if that is work ..one should feel special everywhere!
Looking forward now to our final class next week as we styled 2 gorgeous volunteers!
I was reminded of my opening ramble to this diary all those week ago. That is just how important style and confidence are together and it is only fitting that we left on that Confident note ready for our final and practical week in Week 12 on the shop floor.
So what a wonderful end to a very enjoyable 12 weeks as we got the chance to style 2 real women! .Where everything we had learnt so far would have to be used! I really want to thank our 2 gorgeous girls who volunteered on the night to be styled and whom Julie had contacted in advance.
We were slightly nervous but excited and eager to learn from the experience and so delighted to report that was a great experience with many learnings. We were lucky to work with 2 very different personalities with different careers, needs etc and also styled one girl in Hobbs and the other girl in H&M which gave us all different insights as most of our practical work so far had been in the House of Fraser.
So what were the biggest takeaways ?
- Time Management was key…time just flew and could see how needed to be really organised and work to deadlines.
- Working on your gut always good , what thought would work at the outset usually did !
- Recognising straight away what wasn’t working and changing it. It is amazing how different something can look when tried on!
- Trying to piece the staple items of the wardrobe together first and the having fun with it ..usually the skirt or trousers and changing tops and accessories around then.
- Being confident!!!
As touched on in previous weeks, its all about your client now and what works for them and being open to different clothes and shops….we wouldn’t have selected those shops to work in but we still got on fine!
Not everything selected worked on the girls which is going to be true to life but similarly a lot of items did and we all got to pick each other’s brains on our different outfits and choices .
So complete with my Certificate from Stylefish, I am now qualified as a Personal Stylist!
Cannot recommend enough the course as a hugely enjoyable and worthwhile one and so glad I completed it and look forward to engaging with it in the future on so many levels. Classes were fun , enlightening and Julie shared her huge knowledge and insights with us at all times and want to thank her for all!