Can we start with the premise that clothes are important? I mean not just important, but very, very important. Let's admit that they do much more than their original purpose of protecting from the elements - they provide an image, an identity even.
Say no all you like. Say "Oh, but I'm practical, I like functional clothes" and I'll gainsay you right back - all the way to the shops. Your 'functional wardrobe' is an indication of who you are. Your 'clean lines' tell me that you aspire to focus and a lack of clutter in your life. Oh yes, the clothes maketh the wo/man, and there is no getting away from it.
So, let's talk about dressing habits. What do you wear to work? What do you put on for a job interview? For a summer barbeque in your friend's garden? For the school run? For a wedding?
When you open your wardrobe, how do you feel? Energised and confident, or flattened, depressed, confused?
Now I'll 'fess up. I've just had a "Wardrobe Wellness Session" with Jo Bunner of the Good Clothes Philosophy, 'champion of slow fashion and eternal style'. Jo decided I had a middle-aged menopausal type style issue (she's such a flatterer this woman), whereby I needed to "rediscover my inner style and embrace "Fashion Freedom". She explained, "Women in their 40s and 50s usually care less about what others think or the dictates of fashion, and yearn to express themselves, but they've sometimes lost touch with their inner style. I'm here to help you reconnect with the very essence of your individuality!"
With that she got straight to analysing my colours. For the uninitiated this means she made me wipe off the ever-present berry-coloured lippy from Bobbi Brown, wrap my hair in a white towel turban, and sit directly in front of the window. Then she put swathes of different colours in front of my face and told me NOT to look directly into her eyes. "It's off-putting for both of us," she explained. Blimey, I don't think I've had so much unnerving close attention since my last check at the opticians.
After lots of umming and ahhing about seasonal palettes and skin tones (apparently I was pretty Wintry), it turns out I'm 'dominantly Autumnal'. Which was, frankly, a downer because my wardrobe is full of blues and greys (think Summer, Winter, Spring). No wonder opening it up fills me with the opposite of inspiration - it's like it's full of dementors from Harry Potter sucking the life and soul out of me. But Jo can cure all of that, without so much as an "Accio crazy style mistakes!" And I'm all about sunsets and trees now, darling.
Having explained that many people have a weird disconnect between themselves and the way they present, Jo asked me "What three adjectives would you like people to use about you before they have spoken to you?"
This is Jo's Style for Life question and it wasn't easy. However, never disparaged, this scatty, ageing, and slightly unsure person came up with, "Focussed, attractive and confident". Oh yes. Oh. Yes.
Going through some of my wardrobe items, (tops for layering, easy pullovers, going-out dresses), Jo asked some pertinent questions as I changed clothes, and I mumbled on about what I liked and what I wasn't sure about or comfortable wearing.
She observed me like a hawk as I put things on (easily or with difficulty?), she listened intently to what I said about the way the items made me feel ("Ooo this is so cosy when it's cold out, and feels so warm and friendly", or "I'm never too sure how this is supposed to sit on my shoulders").
And, together, over a couple of very busy hours, we made a huge pile of clothes that weren't right for my now energising and inviting wardobe!
Jo then sent me a summary of her findings, individualised and helpful, to use in the future.
I liked her guidance on finding my inner personal style and not relying on advice in fashion magazines. She took my history and personal preferences into account with her summary and it's insightful and helpful, with ideas to help me get back in touch.
And now I'm off to dye my almost 20 year old simple Ghost white wedding dress a beautiful khaki. As Jo says, "don't save things for best, 'cos when does best come?"
Jo's offering a free 1.5 hour Initial Confab (normally worth £50) to any of our readers who'd like one (as long as you're within 25 miles on BN14 otherwise travel is added as a cost). Just mention you saw her on Loose Debra :-)
Chief Freedom Fighter and New Wearer of Darker, Deeper, Richer Yellow-Based Tones