I recently met up for breakfast with my brother in my home town of Okehampton, West Devon. We met in The White Hart hotel, a 17th century coaching inn, now converted into a J D Wetherspoon pub and hotel.
The buildings history is tastefully honoured with a decent collection of nostalgic photos and paintings including the town and surrounding area. We were trying to pinpoint the year of a particular black and white street scene of Okehampton when I saw a lady in the foreground of the picture.
She was wearing a white buttoned up three quarter length dress, a neat collar and short capped sleeves with a fitted waist and a pattern around the hem. A pair of cream courts, a matching bag and her hair was styled in a neat flipped bob.
I shouted out ‘‘It’s the 60’s’’ like a crazed pub quizzer.
And then we saw the date. 1960.
What struck me, is that it took a dress and a particular time in fashion to pinpoint the age of the photo. Not from looking at the cars, buses or buildings, but a simple cotton dress.
Whether you were born during these times or not, most of us recognise something from the fashion eras of the 1940’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s and many of us will have a favourite style from those times. Any one of these eras is always a great excuse for a fancy-dress party too!
The styles of these times stood out not only for their individuality, but were clear signposts and maps to what was happening socially and politically in the country and around the world.
The wartime rationing of food and clothing in the 1940’s literally forced fashion into slimmer silhouettes using cheaper and less material. Tights and stockings would be a thing of the past as women learnt to ‘draw’ on their back seams or go without.
This all changed with the end of war in 1947. Christian Dior showed 90 creations to an audience in Paris. The skirts and dresses used huge amounts of material with equal quantities of netting underneath. It was the famous Bar jacket and full pleated skirt that epitomised what was coined The New Look. It marked the end of rationing and the doom and gloom of war and gave way to a booming time in fashion as well as in dance and music.
Fashion nowadays is a massed produced affair and there are few ‘stand-out’ moments when a new fashion season comes around and lets face it, there are only so many ways you can design another cotton t-shirt.
With charity shops in almost every town and city in the UK, it is not hard to pick up a bargain and a a complete outfit while supporting a charity or two and you will often find original pieces from way-back-when.
On top of that, you are helping to recycle the burgeoning clothes mountain we already have.
Would you like a new look?
Are you are overwhelmed or lost in the fashion jungle? Then get in touch with me today and find out how you can update your style, wardrobe and image in three easy steps!
Wishing you all a very happy, healthy and stylish 2018!
If you are on Facebook, and depending on your interests, the chances that you belong to a group or two, is fairly likely.
Earlier this year, I joined the group UK Makeup Addicts. I wouldn’t exactly call myself a makeup addict, but prefer to keep an interest in, and an eye out on what people are doing with their new purchases in an industry now worth 4 billion a year in the UK.
UK makeup addicts have over 50,000 members and it is fair to say, the majority of the group are in their early twenties to thirties. Every now and again, someone the other side of forty will pop up, and it is these occasions that keep me going.
As a teenager, living in the rural countryside of South West England, the only makeup I could get my 1980’s hands on, was a range in the local Spar called Cover Girl, endorsed by US model Cheryl Tiegs. I loved the packaging with her expensive hair, perfect teeth and firm skin and in my naivety, I believed that if I bought the highly-perfumed compact powder and mascara, that I would (totes) look like her- Needless to say, It didn’t happen.
Makeup brands that were big in my time were Miners, Rimmel, Max Factor, Maybelline, Almay and Avon and like most teenagers, I experimented with makeup.
Photo Trude Bosence
I would constantly pick the wrong colour of foundation or powder. Starting off with deep orange, (with accompanying tide-marks) progressing to pale beige and eventually ending up with my perfect match. mortuary white. (not its specific name, but looking at old photos, I can only describe it as goth horror)
Meanwhile, my sister was being lavish with her pink miners cream blush and doing a fine impression of Ziggy Stardust. This along with her self-made mullet (she was at art school, so it was fine) was just about the icing on the cake.
I had no clue about skincare or the first thing about how to apply makeup. The only brushes I had at the time, came with the compacts and they disintegrated after a few uses.
The choice of products were minimal compared with today. On-line shopping, YouTube tutorials and celebrity make-up artists didn’t exist and high definition foundation was another 25 years off.
One afternoon while I was perusing through the makeup group, I saw a woman around my age pop up. Enter Trude Bosence. A vivacious 53 year old makeup artist, hair stylist, stylist and photographer from North Devon. Trude asked everyone what they thought of her photo and fingers on buzzers, I was straight in there with ‘you look great’ (which she did) and with a relief I can’t express, at seeing someone my age posting a photo of herself.
Within a short space of time Trude and I hit it off, and spontaneously agreed to do a photoshoot a week later.
As a former model, I know the pressures on the makeup artist, stylist and photographer and although photo shoots can be fun, they can also come with a few time constraints. There is no time left to get creative.
Doing a shoot with Trude would have none of these restrictions. For either of us. There was no agenda, goal, deadline, or pre-conceived ideas. This along with her super friendly and relaxed attitude would make it a load of fun!
Trude’s pink flamingo studio was ultimate. The main part of her studio was taken up with a selection of props, backdrops, and lighting equipment, while a well designed end section was her dedicated makeup bar. This says nothing for her incredibly well stocked rail of clothes (many are vintage) along with a good selection of shoes, wigs and accessories. A one-stop shop for a complete head-to-toe makeover!
Trude in her pink flamingo dressing room
As well as meeting and making a new friend in Trude, I watched us working together and it got me thinking about what 50 means to me.
Reaching 50 is definitely one of those milestones everyone talks about, but it is more than the sum of its parts.
Reaching 50 is about taking opportunities and invites as they come your way. You never know where they might lead, the people you meet or the new things you will learn.
It is about trusting and using your instincts, intuition and perceptions. They won’t let you down, as long as you use them.
It is about not taking yourself too seriously, being spontaneous and laughing as much as possible!
It is surrounding yourself with kind, positive and authentic people. The kind who help you grow and who reflect the same qualities and values in life while telling you the truth.
”No” is a complete sentence- It is about saying yes when you mean yes, and no when you mean no.
Reaching 50 is about owning and loving every part of who you are, and who you have become and about being unequivocably comfortable in your own skin.
Every now and again Trude and I would laugh loud and raucously in the shoot-
”We’ll show them how its done”
Trude, I think we did!
If you have lost your confidence, fizz, style and self, somewhere in the maze of life, then get in touch for a free consultation and discover how a colour analysis, wardrobe plan or personal shopping trip will help to boost your confidence and give you a fresh start. You will wish you had done it sooner!
Contact Trude Bosence for information on her photoshoots via her Facebook page.
This is an annual re-post which I have done for the last six years. Here are four reasons why.
Firstly, I have always been in love with this dress and will never tire of its extraordinary ability to flatter every single body type, shape, age and size. Secondly, it holds a special place in my heart since I got married in a Dirndl to my Bavarian husband seven years ago. Thirdly, I spent a decent amount of time researching and delving into its fascinating history, and feel it worthy of a good airing and finally, it is an introduction for anyone who is new to this dress and would love to know more!
At the end, there is a useful guide on how to pick the right Dirndl with tricks and tips on getting the best fit and finding your most flattering colour.
Dirndl and Lederhosen or Tracht
If the dirndl could get herself a plaque on the Hollywood hall of fame, I would press her bodice into the clay and make her famous, just for me!
This is a dedication to the Dirndl, a dress with a legacy going back 140 years. Having stood the test of time, the Dirndl is worn today by thousands of women across Bavaria, Austria, the Alps and beyond and has become a multi-million dollar industry.
Dirndl, a term for “young girl” and the name given to the dress, originated as a simplified form of a servant’s or maid’s dress and was made of plain colours or simple check, denoting regional and social background. Back then, the dirndl was coloured using vegetable dyes, giving it a much softer look than the colours we see today, which are richer and brighter. The dirndl was adopted by the upper echelons of society in the late 1800s, when it was fashionable to emulate the simple life of the peasants, and they were made in expensive, embroidered fabrics of velvet, silk, satin and fine cottons.
The two basic styles of the dress are Trachtendirndl, which consists of a blouse, tailored bodice, a full skirt and an apron and the Landhausmode (country house style), which is a dirndl-like dress and skirt that is more informal. You can still see women wearing this “softer” version, the landhausmode, on a daily basis.
The dirndl is still worn by many women for traditional and cultural events and at weddings, to show their regional pride. Lets face it, when you have an outfit that is so flattering, there won’t be many cries of “I’ve got nothing to wear!” The dirndl has a pride and pertinence to it lacking in the expensive and “samey” fashion labels on the market.
Our wedding day in England. September 2010
Where to see it
This years Oktoberfest Thanksgiving Day Parade in Munich is on the 17th September. It is still one of the best places to see every region of Bavaria’s Tracht, which are displayed throughout the festivities in spectacular style. Get there early to see the many variations and styles of these exquisitely embroidered dresses, bodices and aprons—often accessorized with hats, feathers, bust adorning roses, brightly coloured silk shawls, handcrafted jewellery, medallions and beads for the neck and waist.
The exquisite attention to detail in the costumes discloses regional, social and historic status. Farmers would often show their wealth by displaying it on their wives’ dirndl, and it was common for a woman to show her dowry in the same way.
My wedding Dirndl decorated with Edelweiss
Holz vor der Hütte
But what makes the dirndl so fine for our Frauleins? The secret, my friends, lies in the bodice. The upper part of the body being the main focal point of this dress and really the whole purpose! It’s cheeky I know, but Holz vor der Hütte literally means: a stack of wood in front of the hut. Thus, the Dirndl creates a natural platform for adornment and enhancement of this area. So get this part of the dress right and the rest will follow!
The dirndl is also in my hall of fame because it fits all shapes, sizes, heights and statures, ticking all the boxes for fit and flattery. It is the ultimate IT dress. If you are not blessed with a bountiful bosom, the dirndl will give you some Holz Vor der Hütte and if you are blessed, then be prepared for admirers who just can’t help themselves.
Underneath the bodice is a cotton blouse, cut just under the bust to avoid any excess material, cleverly veiling any excess flesh, perfect for older ladies who want to cover their upper arms. The blouses come in plain cotton for a few euros or several hundred for exotic versions in organza, linen, lace and crystal embroidery. The hochzeit or wedding Tracht really are something else!
Invites from our Bavarian/English wedding. Hand-cut paper by Alexandra Lukaschewitz
If you don’t have a Tracht (traditional costume) then it is high time you got one, after all millions of other non-natives don the costume every year and it is a great way of feeling part of the festival and getting acquainted with beer and pretzel in traditional dress!
Below are some tips for buying a dirndl. Even though some may seem obvious, you want to be happy with your choice. Despite the myths out there—Newsflash! —there are some women who actually don’t like shopping! It can be a minefield with many choices and little help and is not always as enjoyable as it should be. This should eliminate the complexity a bit, making it easier and more fun.
Tips on buying a dirndl
#1 Make sure the bodice fits you. Look for the same size as a fitted top you already own when trying it on. The bodice is the only part that needs to fit you well.
#2 When trying on your dirndl, always try on the blouse that goes underneath, even if it is not the one you want to get, and lace the bodice up. This will give you a true fit. It should be snug but not tight; you need room for dancing and saying, “Prost!”
#3 You can wear any length you want, but here’s a guide: There is mini, midi or full length. If you are a teenager, you can get away with wearing the mini dirndl. If you are older, wear the mid-length or the traditional long length. Either way, no one will be looking at your legs!
#4 There are many good second hand shops around, and with time, you can mix and match your own Dirndl by choosing from a huge selection of dresses, blouses and aprons. You can pick up a complete outfit for €100. Scores of Oktoberfest revellers return their dirndls to second-hand stores after the party is over, so there are plenty of bargains to be had.
#5 Here is a color guide to help you get the most out of your dirndl. It will help bring out the best in your natural coloring and features. Then just wait to collect the “oohs and ahhs” from friends and colleagues!
• If you are a redhead – Look for bronze and golden shades, burnt orange and reds.
• If you are blonde – Look for yellows, rose and brown, blues and golden shades.
• If you are brunette – Look for purples, reds, dark green, black and plum shades.
• If you have black hair – Look for black, purple, charcoal and royal blue.
• If you have grey hair – Look for cool (blue based) colors, preferably with some contrast, also grey, dark navy, teal and spruce, and keep makeup light and subtle.
#6 How you tie the apron bow on the dirndl indicates your marital status:
• If you are engaged or married – tie it on the right side.
• If you are young, free and single – tie it on the left side.
• If you are widowed – tie it at the back.
Have fun and enjoy wearing your dirndl. If you are one of those with the apron bow tied to the left, then get ready to take on your suitors!
For shops: Google ”Dirndl” and you will find dozens of shops across Germany and the world selling Tracht
Like a chef, I can’t imagine doing my work without a few key ingredients to hand.
For example, a successful colour analysis can’t be achieved without having a set of specially dyed fabrics. These tools, along with a keen eye and sense for the qualities in a person’s skin, eye and hair colour provide results that not only update an image, but can boost self confidence and esteem in both private life and in the work place.
To carry out a colour analysis or indeed any other image session, it is impossible to work without the key ingredient of them all. People.
Or is it?
Personally, the thought of working remotely even with today’s fast moving technology seems counter productive to what I do.
I love the privilege of working closely with people to create a result that very often, they say they wish they’d done years ago!
When it comes down to personal image, nothing is more personal, than actually talking about it.
With every new style session, an initial consultation is carried out to create a personally tailored map. Questions range from favourite colours and style challenges to discussing body shape. The information gathered is key to a successful outcome but should be handled with sensitivity and care.
Without exception, these questions can trigger various emotions and responses whether conciously, or not. Reactions can include anything from subtle eye movement to physical shifts in body language and changes in skin colour.
Without seeing someone in the flesh, It would be easy to miss out vital clues on how they are feeling as they are taken through the various stages of a personal image makeover to its final conclusion.
The thought then of conducting a style session over the phone and via Skype was the last thing on my mind, when I got an email to ask for just that.
Here I take up the challenge to see how it works!
*Freya is a primary school teacher in her mid-thirties and is returning to teaching after looking after two young children. She needs an updated wardrobe to go with her new post.
Freya suffers from a condition known as hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) and colours up easily around the neckline and facial area, so it was vital that her clothing is comfortable and not restrictive. This meant as much natural fibre as possible as well as carefully selected styles that were away away from problem areas like the neckline and underarm area.
Choosing the right styles would not only help Freya to look cool, but help her feel cool and also disguise the process happening in the first place.
Freya needed more choice in tops and blouses. Experience in on-line shopping meant she spent more time returning clothes than keeping them.
She needed clothing that was easy to move around in whilst working with groups of active young children.
She wanted her style to be casual, without trying too hard and a look that reflected her age.
With each phone session I created a list of the items she was looking for to fit around her budget, size, fabric and colour etc. This would include an image of the clothing, the brand, size and the best online site selling the item. All she had to do was order them and try them on!
I also created a fashion/mood board to give Freya a visual picture of what her new wardrobe would look like and sent her a colour booklet so she could go shopping and match up her best colours.
Conducting the style sessions over the phone, allowed me to concentrate on every detail of Freya’s goals without distraction. As well as listening, I was able to do considerable note taking. Great for in filling in any gaps. (this could be perceived as rude with someone in front of me)
Dealing with personal issues was easier than I thought, and Freya felt comfortable and confident enough to tell me everything that was necessary to establish a clear working trust between us. Again, I think the phone session helped, and acted as a ‘safety barrier’
I enjoyed the on-line session and I can say it works and offers a good substitute especially if you live too far from the city, decent shops or you don’t have time to shop. However, it won’t ever replace being present and working through often personal stages of an image consultation (which can be a lot of fun working together!) this to me results in a more valuable and without doubt, a far more personal service.
Testimonial from Freya
I initially approached Rachel on recommendations from two friends who had been extremely happy with the services she had provided. Our initial consultation was via telephone and I felt immediately at ease talking to Rachel as she is so warm, friendly and has a genuine desire to help. After each conversation we had, Rachel provided a detailed summary of what we had discussed and she included links to recommended sites/products which she felt fitted my needs.Overall Rachel and I had several conversations either via telephone or Skype and she addressed each and every concern of mine with multiple suggestions and detailed responses.
The end result is that I have a colour palette which is tailored to me and I have a new confidence in myself and the way I look leaving me feeling ready to start work again!
London is undoubtedly one of the best shopping capitals in the world. But with such a huge and varied choice on offer, it can be a jungle. So where do you begin?
At best, shopping can be overwhelming and even intimidating.How do you shop for things that echo your personal style, and leave you feeling confident and energised, not frustrated and exhausted?
I am creating a series of guided shopping trips for small groups of like minded people around London and will be your style coach, tour guide and personal shopper rolled into one! email@example.com or more information:
Remember that old cliche where women are supposed to love shopping while the men folk are dragged along only to drop into the nearest chair, uttering ‘Yes dear, it looks fine dear’ ‘But, don’t you have one like that already..dear?’ are thankfully (mostly) confined to the archives of 70’s sitcoms.
Despite the myth that Women are supposed to love shopping I know for a fact many don’t like it at all. Some I speak to even hate it!
Surveys in the UK suggest that up to 44% of women don’t like clothes shopping one bit. Apart from the usual issues such as finding the right size, not wanting to try on clothes, bad lighting and poorly placed mirrors. (all true) There can be an issue of too much choice (or lack thereof)
Having too much of a choice doesn’t sound like much of a problem considering world events, but having the confidence to know what looks right, and step out of the house feeling good about yourself can be an uphill struggle for those battling with issues in low self-esteem and confidence.
If you look good, you feel good. This has a positive effect on yourself as well as those around you and can affect for the better, every aspect of your life.
Shopping for men it has to be said, is far easier. By definition, their choice is narrower. For the corporate environment at least, they can choose between suit, pants, shirt, tie, jacket, sweater, shoes, man-bag and coat. Business dress for men is more relaxed than ever though, and lines can still get blurred. Successful dressing for men is down to the right tailoring, style, colour and cloth.
Shopping for women on the other hand, is a whole new ball game.
Although many of us can remember the carefree days of dressing up and experimenting with shopping in our youth.Having the responsibility of a young family, work, stress or illness can leave many women on the back foot regarding confidence, energy and the feel-good factor they once had.
With the continual care of others’, many mums tell me they are lucky to get even a brush through their hair before heading out the door on the school run. Let alone choose an outfit for the day!
One of the reasons shopping can be such a minefield for women today, is they can wear absolutely everything! From skirts, to shirts, dungarees to dinner jackets, catsuits to cufflinks. As well as every concievable colour, material and style in between.
We can cross borders without a fashion visa from feminine to masculine quicker than you can say The Devil Wears Prada.
With more choice comes more problems. Can I wear this length? Is this colour right for me? Does this make me look too young? What else will it go with? Am I trying too hard? All the hurdles, hoops and mental checks we go through before we buy something (and then to take it back) can be exhausting until we start the process of on-line shopping and find it just as fruitless.
Then there is the hair, makeup, nails, and general maintenance departments to keep the whole look rolling on.
After being lost in the ‘I’ve got nothing to wear’ maize for too long, and trying to put things right with well meaning relatives and friends, a style coach is often the only way out and onto a new path and direction.
As well as coming from a neutral and non-judgemental stand point, the role of a personal shopper is about matching an image to a personality and elevating a profile (whatever role in life) This allows you to get on with the job efficiently and successfully without thinking a second longer about the image you just worked at.
And the best part? Everyone will think it came from you.
To find out more about how a style coach can get you out of your maize, speak to Rachel for an initial consultation: +44 79890 77603 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Have you ever had one of those nightmares where you find yourself naked at a dinner party? Or wearing a clown outfit at a funeral? Self-consciousness, insecurity and embarrassment are such strong psychological forces that they regularly haunt our dreams.
But you can turn them around. Here’s my story.
Early on last year, I was booked to walk in a fashion show for a department store outside Munich. It was my first job for a new agency and also my first catwalk show in years.
As far as my runway CV went, mine was fairly thin. My experience – and comfort zone – lay more in fashion showrooms for wholesale fashion buyers, photographic work and modelling for TV shopping channels. Rather chillaxed, really, compared to hot footing it down the catwalk trying to keep cool and collected when really you’re sweating like a builder!
My catwalk debut was moons ago, circa 1985. The Top Shop store show in Plymouth was a culmination of a six week modeling and deportment course, oh yes. I walked out heavily buttoned and shoulder padded to a thumping version of ‘Mack the knife’, my hair was sprayed to high heaven and I was shaking from head to toe with nerves.
Then came wedding shows in freezing marquees amongst prize winning cows and bulls, Laura Ashley events in (far too many) brushed cotton floral dresses, and a couple of Liz Claiborne shows that had more twists and turns than the aforementioned clown with his pants on fire.
So, on that fatal winter’s day last year, I pulled on my grey wool dress, extreme thermal tights and five inch red sheepskin wedges to meet a couple of models I was going to be working with, at the local train station.
I spotted the girls immediately (and not only because they were the only ones up at 6am on a Saturday morning). They were tall. Really tall. Standing in their ballet flats, they came to the same height as me in my super wedges.
Something felt immediately wrong, but I let it pass in my early morning stupor. On arrival at the store, I met the remaining models (including two friendly and exuberant males). They greeted each other in high fives and air kisses, and politely said hello to me. It was clear that they had previously worked together and were furiously catching up.
Brilliant, all of them were the same towering height. Almost a head taller than me, way over six foot (1.90 metres). And insult to injury, the girls were one or two dress sizes smaller than me. Taller and smaller! Just my day.
I felt I had been set up (like Channel 4’s ‘Faking It’ series) where they take a wrestler and train them up to be a ballet dancer to compete in a final showdown. Judges get to decide who the fake is. Sometimes they guess, but often they don’t. But there’s no faking height and size in a live show. All I had was my ability to walk, smile and show the clothing to the best effect.
Looking up at the high domed ceiling of the department store, I willed anyone to hoist me up and out of the building. To that effect, I even rung my husband but he was busy. So I was stuck with five fashion shows and model colleagues twenty years younger.
One of the girls I travelled with, became my partner. We practiced to be in sync with one another (as much as I could with her longer stride) and created a series of routines, turns and walks that we could remember.
It was then that the woman in charge caught my eye, and saw the discrepancy of choice in her new model. I felt like a pink pig trying to learn synchronized swimming in a sea of long limbed flamingos.
Rather than pretend NOT to see what was happening, I walked straight up to the boss.
‘Well, its obvious isn’t it?’ she said, crossly pointing at me up and down with her finger. ‘You are clearly not the height you said you were. You’re going to knock my whole show out. Everyone looks the same, EXCEPT YOU’, she bitched loudly.
I went on to explain that, perhaps, there must have been some kind of mix up in the measurement conversions, even though she had already seen me in person. Smiling hard, I promised her that she wouldn’t be disappointed, which she already was, obviously.
We got ready in our first outfits, but to make things more challenging, we didn’t walk out onto a level catwalk, common in most shows but immediately down two steep flights of stairs onto the department floor. My calf muscles were like steel by the time we finished!
I kept in time with the music, twirling to our memorized routine. I also kept telling myself: keep smiling, keep walking, don’t look down and please, please don’t fall on your pink pig arse! Fortunately, I completed the shows without a hitch.
In the last show, I was calm enough to take a look at the largely female audience. How on earth would these women in the audience wear the clothes and styles on models with a dress size eight and the height of Olympic athletes?
It was an abruptly absurd and exhilaratingly comical vision. The models were definitely Haute Couture, the clientele, of course, were just your average women, somewhere between a height of 5 feet 4 (1.65 metres) and a dress size 14 (42). Don’t get me wrong, that’s exactly as it should be!
My main job as a style coach is to help create and refresh a personal image of an individual person, who, in all likelihood, is not a supermodel. To do this with lasting results, things must be done in an authentic way. A successful image transformation not only has to fit to the personality, character (and comfort zone) of the person but should highlight the best of their body shape and unique features regardless of age, shape or size.
I couldn’t see how a catwalk show like this could carry this important message across. It looked manipulative to say the least.
I thought of the customers trying on the clothes after the shows, and wondered if they thought they could look like the models once they bought the clothes. I also wondered, how many were disappointed with their reflection and walked away empty handed and dejected.
As I made my way back to Munich I thought of my sometimes conflicting jobs as style coach and model. One creates and improves an image of reality, of what we do look like. The other participates in creating an illusion of what people think they should look like.
By now, I know which aspect I prefer. I hope you do too.
When people ask me what I do for a living, I try to sum it up as concisely as possible. From the What image would you like to project conversation to the full menu. Wardrobe Planning, Colour Analysis Makeup and Personal Shopping From the menu, It is the personal shopping that still leaves people the most puzzled. To clear things up, this newsletter will come in two parts: The guide to personal shopping and the guide to wardrobe planning.
Being a style coach is about listening and building trust. It is creating an arena that is comfortable, inspiring and motivating. The results are a personal style that is relevant, authentic and highly successful in a social and professional context.
I would like to thank two people who have inspired me to create this newsletter (and whose testimonials you can read at the end)
KAREN Travels between Munich and New York with her career as an opera singer. She came to me looking for more colour and to move away from her NewYork black. Being a few inches shorter than the average German woman, Karen wanted to find a European chic and for things to fit her height and shape. Read how her shopping trip went below.
JOHNA long time friend and actor, continues to reap the benefits from his wardrobe, colour analysis and personal shopping sessions. Being colour blind, we had to build a strong wardrobe in identifiable colours, tones and styles to help him secure acting roles.The investment continues to pay off and allows him to feel on top of his game. Read more about his experience below.
PERSONAL SHOPPING IS FOR EVERYONE ELSE!
Having spoken to various groups of people over the years, I have come to realise that although many have heard of personal shopping, they think it’s not something for them but rather for everyone else. It can seem intimidating or out of reach. It’s what rich people do or bored hollywood housewives, right?
The people who use a personal shopper, use one from all kinds of reasons, backgrounds, cultures, ages, shapes, sizes and budgets. (and no, not just actors and opera singers!)
It is why talking to people, and creating workshops are important. They help bring the subject closer to the audience, making it more attainable and less intimidating.
You dont need money to look good, but you do need to know how to use the right tricks and techniques that apply to you and everything that is unique about you.
WHO USES A PERSONAL SHOPPER?
Take for example business professionals. They need to project an image that matches their role and responsibility in the company they represent. How they look and what they say should be unequivocal and create an impact before a word is even spoken. When it comes to climbing the career ladder, details matter and people do notice.
Actors need to create a strong first impression. New York based John Pirkis has often seconds to gain the confidence of potential investors when he goes up for a new role. Dressing the part requires attention to detail.The suit John wears is from one of our shopping trips and continues to earn him praise in castings. His blog: ‘Diary of a Failed Actor’ describes perfectly the highs and lows of his profession.
SOCIAL-There are social reasons. Someone may have lost their confidence (and their way) from a separation or divorce.They want to bring back some of the style they once had and start dating again. A session with a style coach can help them find a more relevant image while giving them the confidence and motivation to make a fresh start.
FAMILY-There are those who have raised a family and are looking to return to work or start a new career. This means bringing an image up to date and in line with other job applicants and is also an opportunity to turn a new page. Personal shoppers are booked for birthdays, anniversaries and as leaving presents and gift vouchers are a popular choice.
COPY CAT- It is no good copying a look in a magazine if it doesn’t translate to your body shape or the person you are. We all know that models don’t represent the majority of womens’ body shapes (or mens for that matter) but copying them can take out the hard work for us.
It takes time to develop a style and find something that you are comfortable with. Being in a neutral, non-judgemental position allows me to speed up the process!
ON THE STREET- Surveys say that women dominate 65% of the global market. When it comes to retail shopping, It is evident there are still huge gaps in the market. Often I see women (and men) walking around stores in an effort and a daze trying to find something to wear. Help is either minimal or intrusive and not much in between.They exit the store minutes later, only to repeat the process somewhere else.
The experience is nil and the frustration is high.
STEP BY STEP GUIDE TO SHOPPING
MEETING UP- To begin with there is an informal but focused consultation to discuss specific desires and goals. Meeting in person works two ways. It allows me to get a clear idea of bodyshape, height and natural colouring, aswell as the persons character and personality. It also helps build a level of trust and establish a friendly working relationship.
LOOK BOOK- Having a photograph to work with beforehand, allows me to prepare a few images I think are suitable (like a look-book) for the person I am working with. This helps establish a focus for ideas and drums up excitement. Together we discuss style, shape, colour, fabric, accessories and anything else that is important
RESEARCH-Before a shopping trip, research has to be carried out. This is an important aspect for a successful shop and the focus of everything I know about that person so far. From where to find the right length pair of pants, skirt, dress, jacket, collar type, material, tailoring, colour, pattern, accessories and so on. This also applies to skin care and makeup
SHOPPING DATE-The big date has arrived and what we’ve been waiting for! When trying on clothes, I advise people to come wearing (easy to get in and out of) clothing. To bring heels if trying on dresses and business shoes if trying on suits. Clothes that are hampered with buckles and buttons will only slow down the process!
SUCCESS- Of the clothes I select, 99% of them are bought and successfully integrated into the wardrobe. The selected items not only double the outfit choices but work with existing pieces and new alike. Guided shopping can seriously breaks old habits because they are intensive one-to-one style workouts and a time of real focus. Many people report that they not only save money on future trips but are able to shop in half their normal time.
SELF AWARENESS- Finally, these sessions are a reminder that is important to highlight the best of ourselves for ourselves. Unique aspects that over time have been forgotten or buried under the layers of life.They are about bringing those positive aspects to the surface by recognising what we have got, not what we haven’t. Knowing how to reflect these qualities increases confidence, self-esteem, self-awareness and is always an inspiration to others.
See what Karen and John had to say!
Rachel is fantastic – she is smart, talented, genuinely positive and amazingly tactful. I am a typical New York “everything in black” girl, and also a good 6 inches shorter than the average German woman.The lovely european chic-casual style has been a mystery to me since I moved here. I had pretty much given up on ever finding clothes in Germany when I went to Rachel for help
She has a brilliant eye for colour and form, and after our initial consultation, even before we went shopping, she had me thinking differently about how to dress and what to put together.She has the patience of a saint – I had extremely vague answers to her questions about my personal style, since “black” has been my answer to everything for years.The shopping experience was amazing.
I generally give up after one hour, but two and a half hours with Rachel passed in the blink of an eye.Not only did I end up with some beautiful clothes in lovely colours, but we also got some fantastic things in black that actually fit me.
Rachel very tactfully explained to me how to mix and match to achieve the look I wanted, and much to my delight, I can apply her advice to both my old and my new clothes.My “What Not To Wear” moments have dramatically decreased and miraculously, my mother, my husband, and my garment-district friends all love my new clothes!If you want assistance, advice or even just a ray of sunshine in your wardrobe, I highly recommend consulting Rachel for any and all of your fashion needs.
Rachel, I cannot thank you enough for the extraordinary results you have achieved for me! Not only restyling my wardrobe, but also taking the dread I had of shopping for clothes. Being colour blind just added to my problem.
Your patience, calm energy and passion for the task in hand made the event and effortless joy and education.
I feel confident to venture out on a shopping trip of my own and even look forward to it.
Thank you again.
‘‘People will stare. Make it worth their while” Harry Winston
There is no getting away from it. My work is personal. In order to get to the heart of someones style, I have to get to the heart of their wardrobe. This means sifting through items that no longer measure up. (literally) ultimately clothes that stay, should fit into two categories. They should Fit and they should Feel Good (lets call it FFG!)
COLOURS- should compliment the natural tones of skin, eyes and hair and styles should match body shape, frame and personality.
DRESS UP-Many people dress older or younger than they really are, or in clothes that are larger or smaller than their true size.
REASONS-Over time, we can lose sight of ourselves. Styles we once looked good in, no longer fit and the colours we used to love, no longer make us feel or look as good. There are clothes handed down by well meaning friends or relatives which don’t fit (they don’t have the FFG!) and why in the end, they get discarded.
They were bought with someone else in mind. certainly not for you and not for your body shape or character. Whether you are selecting your own clothes or given them, try them on first. If they don’t have the FFG factor then please don’t feel obliged to take them or buy them!
SHOPPING-With relatives can prove tricky. In the heat of the moment, outfits are bought that you wouldn’t otherwise see yourself in but you oblige (because they bought something too) It’s not something you would have chosen, and most likely will be worn once.Well meaning relatives can play dress up in things they think you will look good in.This also comes with obvious problems. Then there are just plain old habits of buying the same styles in the same colours like, forever!
GRACEFULLY AGEING- Take my mum for example. She used to apply the Mary Quant style eye makeup that was standard in the 70’s. She even painted in her lower lashes. She looked amazing. By the 80’s though she adopted different methods in both makeup and dress. This didn’t diminish from her style but only increased it. With each decade she made small changes that bought her up to date.These changes were subtle but transformative. Now in her early 70’s she is as stylish (and as beautiful) as ever.
It is so important to try things on and see why they don’t work on a particular body shape and to get into the habit of looking in the mirror!
STEP BY STEP GUIDE TO WARDROBE PLANNING
Firstly, an informal consultation is arranged to establish specific desires, goals and problem areas. Whether you want to create a formal business look, a change of style or to add a few key pieces. An appointment is made to visit your home and your wardrobe!
Clothes are tried on to establish what should stay and what should go. This is based on Items that no longer fit the body shape, personality or lifestyle, aswell as colours that no longer flatter the natural colouring of hair, skin and eyes and finally clothes that are old and worn out. Where there are any gaps, a shopping list is made of the necessary items to complete the wardrobe.
Once the wardrobe is de-cluttered and organised, the next step is to mix and recycle the remaining clothes back in. Planning a wardrobe is not about spending money on new clothes but knowing how to breathe new life back into what you already have. Mixing suit jackets with jeans, and skirts with vintage tops and jackets. Utilising hats, belts, scarves and other accessories to maximum effect.
By the end of a wardrobe session, you will have gained awareness for styles that fit your body shape and personality creating your unique look. You will find shopping and choosing individual pieces easier and faster and will have the confidence that the pieces you do pick will sit comfortably into your wardrobe. This is the true meaning of finding your style!
We often stop wearing things that dont make us feel good without knowing why-you already have the answer-Trust your instinct!
If you would like to see what a wardrobe session can do for you, please get in touch for an informal and friendly chat: email@example.com