I was telling my husband this morning about my speaking gig last night, and he encouraged me to start recording my thoughts about image consulting. Great idea! I thought. Then I remembered this blog, which I’ve neglected something awful of late….
Last night I drove to a branch of the Prince George’s County library to talk to a group about my topic du jour: “Reinventing You.” They were a diverse group: black and white, young moms and retirees…. you get the idea.
To a person, they each had problems with their clothes and their wardrobes, the nagging suspicion that it could be better than it was — that THEY could look better than they did. One woman, who wore a nice bright green jacket with black piping and a pair of skinny jeans, complained that she always wore ugly shoes (and sure enough, there were a brand-spanking new pair of white leather running shoes). She explained that she really needed to be comfortable, but couldn’t she look a little better while being comfortable? Another brought her two small children to the event and said she ran her husband’s business in addition to her own full-time job, and there just wasn’t time in the day to pay attention to her own style. Most touching were the very heavy woman who said she was in the process of losing weight (You go, girl!) and the woman on disability who had pretty much no money to spend.
But the desire to look attractive — to feel PRETTY, darn it! — doesn’t know age or ability or weight boundaries. And I think that’s the thing I find most moving of all. We’re hard-wired to want to feel our best. It’s just that some of us have the savvy and the budgets and the born beauty, and the rest of us have to fake it. And that’s where the joy comes for me — in helping other women fake it, because you can get a lot of mileage from a little smoke and mirrors.
With that, my five favorite ways to look your best, no matter what your circumstances.
1. Keep it clean and neat, and if possible, pretty. Pilled, stained T-shirts — and clothes in general — know no age or class boundaries either, trust me. I’ve seen them in the biggest, most beautiful closets imaginable. What are they doing there?! If you can, purge and renew your wardrobe regularly, especially those things, like T-shirts, that quickly show age and wear. Update jeans, hairstyle, and glasses at least every two years.
2. Wear your best colors. The older we get, the softer the colors that flatter us, whether in hair, glasses, or clothing. Test different colors to see which flatter you best, then wear them. Black gets old after a while — and it is a LOT more sophisticated to wear interesting color combinations than all black.
3. Smile, stand up straight, make eye contact, and shake hands firmly. These will take you a long way in life, and the most stylish clothes can’t make up for them when they’re missing.
4. Lose the stress. A great way to do that: Get rid of all the clothes that don’t fit, that you don’t wear — or that your mother-in-law gave you 10 years ago and you despise. (I’ve literally never had a client who didn’t have a piece like that, I swear!)
5. Be nice to yourself. Whatever your schedule or budget, make a little teeny bit of time and space in your life to love yourself. Buy yourself a trinket if you’re the person who spends it all on your kids. Sit down for a cuppa in the middle of the day and meditate on what’s good and right about your life. You’re beautiful and special and you deserve it!
Those are my thoughts about why I do what I do — why I feel it’s important and wrapped up in who we are and how we live, despite all the messages that package appearance and style as trite and unimportant.
What motivates YOU to want to look (and feel) better? I want to hear from you! (And please subscribe to this blog and visit my Facebook page.)