The Style Saboteurs – or why you sometimes need to get out of your own way

Do you know someone who gives herself a hard time about how she looks? You know the kind of thing; “I can’t wear this I’m too old, fat, tall – and so it goes on.

This blog is about celebrating the amazingness (Yes, I know I’ve made the word up) of women. Very accomplished women who have demanding jobs and may also act as carers for their families still tend to put themselves down when it comes to their appearance.

Well, if that is you I would like you to stop right now. Let’s explore some of what I call the style ‘saboteurs’. Those ideas and beliefs we have about how we look that prevent us from rejuvenating our personal style.

Comparing yourself to others

The reality is that you are unique. To compare yourself to someone else is a pointless exercise especially if they are younger, thinner or richer. Unfortunately the media tend to promote ‘ideals’ of beauty that at best are unhelpful and at worst create dissatisfaction. Be the best you can be. Be you at your best. I love this quote from a man who embraced style and was always himself.

“Be yourself. Other people are already take” by Oscar Wilde

Waiting to lose weight before you buy new clothes

We all know it is unhealthy to be overweight and if you are severely overweight then you need to seek professional advice. If you are a woman who has had children, if you are going through, or have gone through the menopause or you simply lead a busy life and have erratic eating patterns then the chances are you weigh more than you did a few years ago. If you are constantly telling yourself you’ll buy that new dress when you have lost 10lbs then, guess what – you won’t. You’ll continue to wear the same old thing which you probably don’t like and may not suit you. Just because you weigh more than you’d like (and many of us do!) does not mean you can’t look good and wear stylish clothes. Style is dressing for the shape you have now.

I can never find anything to fit

Oh please! I do not accept this. Unless you are an extraterrestrial being I’m assuming you look much like the rest of us. Women come in all different sizes and shapes so the starting point is to know what shape you are. I’m also assuming you know what size you are. I will soon be posting an article about body shape, but in the meantime, I can strongly recommend The Body Shape Bible’ by Trinny & Susannah, www.orionbooks.co.uk which explores 12 different body shapes and provides good advice about the best clothes for each type. In my opinion, based on mountains of research, no one has produced a better guide.

I’m too old to change my style

You are never too old. There are no age limits to having style. Style rejuvenation is about looking good at any age. Just look at some of these stunning older women. Now tell me you are too old!

 confident mono chromeup swwep

bobrelaxed fit beige knitwear

My kids/friends/partner/colleagues will laugh at me

Time for some tough love! You owe it to yourself to look good and feel good, for you. If someone you know feels ill at ease or threatened by your desire to look good and update yourself (perhaps it will highlight just how much they have let themselves go) then it really is their problem. Also, if they really care about you they should feel happy to support you. When your children do this it usually is because they see you in a role rather than as an individual. You may need to sit them down and talk to them and  firmly let them know that you are doing this for you.

I just haven’t got the time

If you have a very busy work schedule and/or a large family to look after then of course you will be short of time. In this case you will need to schedule some time each week (or day) to clear out your wardrobe, decide what you need to buy and then go shopping. Always shop with a plan. Click onto the Style Challenges page and read my article ‘The Art of Shopping’ which provides a fool proof guide to successful shopping. Follow the guidelines and it will change how you shop forever, and save you a small fortune! Many large stores provide personal shoppers and provided you are clear about what you want to buy they can be helpful. However, I would offer a note of caution. They can only offer the brands they stock, which you may not like or may not suit your body shape, and the personal shopper may be years younger than you and will either (I’m speaking from feedback from my clients) dress you in clothes that are too ‘this season’, and therefore offer a poor return in investment, or may dress you as they ‘perceive’ an older woman should look.

What’s your particular style saboteur? Why not let me know.

10 Style Essentials – No 6

Well Cut Jeans

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Me – in flared jeans!

Before you mutter ‘I don’t suit jeans’ please think again. There are literally hundreds of jeans brands spanning the globe. There are literally hundreds of designers creating styles in every shape and size. If you can’t bring yourself to wear jeans then add another pair of trousers to your ‘essentials’. Perhaps in navy or deep plum as these are colours that work well across the colour palette. I hope to goodness no one is reading this thinking ‘I’m too old for jeans’. Nonsense. Jeans can look good at virtually any age. Get the cut right and overall look of your outfit right and you will look good. The two women below prove this point perfectly.

grey jacket grey hair sweater scarf boots

Whatever style or brand you choose they must fit your body shape well. Are you a skinny, straight, boot cut or flare sort of women? Here are some basic guidelines.

  • Boot cut jeans are the most universally flattering as the slight flare at the bottom can balance out heavy thighs.
NYDJ blue

Not Your Daughters Jeans – high quality and good fit

  • Avoid skinny cut if you have really thin or chunky legs. If you have thin legs this cut will only make them look thinner which can have the effect of making your top half look too bulky, and if you have chunky legs – well, need I say more.
  • Straight leg jeans look good on most body shapes, except pear shapes.
  • Flared styles – which are making a real comeback – require reasonably long legs and a neat bottom. So, if you have short legs and/or a substantial rear end you probably should avoid. If you do opt for flares then consider what you wear on your feet. Heels look good but wedges can make your feet look too clumpy. If you prefer flat boots or shoes then ensure the hem covers you footwear bur doesn’t trail. One of my pet dislikes is where the bottom of jeans is frayed and dirty from trailing along the ground. Not stylish!
  • Cropped jeans can look very chic although much depends, yet again, on what you decide to put on your feet. Elegant flats, loafers, sneakers all look good. For a more sophisticated look go for kitten heels or if your feet are up for it (and providing you can walk smoothly in high heels) go for stilettos. A neat ankle boot can also work well.
  • The colour of the jeans is best kept to darker shades of denim. This is more flattering and also looks classier. Save the washed out denim for holidays. Do not be afraid to wear white jeans as they can look very stylish indeed. If you feel your hips are too wide then wear with a long tunic or cardigan.
  • Distressed jeans. Please don’t! I personally dislike to see them on anyone over 40. I don’t think they should form any part of your Style Essentials. I was recently in Zara (always a pleasure) and spotted an older woman with chunky legs wearing a pale blue skinny cut pair, that were literally molded to her legs.  There were pockets of flesh poking through the rips. Please be warned.
white with navy coat

White jeans are in a class of their own

With trench coat & jeans

With white shirt and trench – timeless

Style strategies for real women

Welcome to my blog, where I give you a range of tips, information and some great ‘secrets’, which will radically improve how you present yourself to the world. You’ll look better than ever and feel more at ease with how you look.

Together we will work with style strategies for real women, just like you, that redefine what it means to dress well and present a stylish and rejuvenated image.

Are you somewhat fed-up, even irritated, by the way women are portrayed in the media? The way we are constantly compared to our younger, often slimmer and more toned counterparts. The majority of women are not size 8 six feet tall Eastern European models.

It’s time to redress the balance and, importantly, take control of our own style and regain our power. This is what my blog is all about. It’s not about slavishly following fashion and trends, it’s about finding a new more stylish you. It’s about rejuvenating your own style. You may need some slight tweaks or perhaps a complete overhaul. It’s up to you. All of the women shown have style, yet they are all different.

long hair and long skirt confident mono chrome

Over the coming months we’ll look at what it means to be ‘stylish’. Together we will discover that while fashion can be exciting, and recognizing that in the UK we have and are consistently producing amazing young fashion designers, style has depth, focus and longevity. To be stylish is to have presence.

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Who am I?

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Me in my 50’s

I’m a ‘baby boomer’ who absolutely loves clothes, shoes, perfume, skincare – you get the picture! I am also a Leadership and Management consultant who has had the privilege to work with some fabulous organisations and even more fabulous corporate women.

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Me in my 60’s enjoying a festive season walk!

My other business, started 3 years ago, is Style Rejuvenation, where I act as a style ‘partner’ and help women to edit their wardrobe, rejuvenate their overall look, create a capsule wardrobe, dress for that special occasion and, my favourite, partner them on shopping trips. If you loath shopping call on me. Take a look at Style Stories and read about the experience of some of my clients.

 

Be kind to your eyes

Earlier this month I talked about the first step in healthy skin starting with a good cleansing regime. Part of this is to care for that very sensitive area of skin around our eyes. When I was a teenager Dusty Springfield inspired many girls to adopt very dark eye shadow and thick black liner. I wasn’t one of them as this look made my eyes disappear! I had a friend who embraced this kind of eye make-up and she ‘washed’ it off with water, soap and the vigorous use of a face cloth! I lost touch with her but can only hope she didn’t end up with dreadfully wrinkled skin. Even as a young girl I knew this aggressive rubbing could not be good.

It is vital that you treat the delicate skin around the eye area with the utmost care. The cleanser you use on your face is not usually recommended for your eyes. I know many women use facial wipes to remove their eye make-up, and I’ll admit I’ve done this myself when I’ve been in a rush, however, you are liable to exert too much pressure and pull the skin. I find that a cotton wool pad is much more effective – and kinder. As most older women use eye make-up I’d like to share with you some of the products I’ve tried and the results I’ve obtained. Some are budget buys and some are more luxe.

chanel eye mup remover

My All Time Favourite – worth every penny!

Over the years I have tried many, many skin care products, eye make-up remover included, and nothing comes close to the performance of Chanel’s. It removes all trace of your eye make-up and leaves the skin soft and conditioned. If you are on a budget then Waitrose own brand ‘Pure’ is excellent value. I discovered this by chance. I was staying away on business and had forgot to pack my Chanel. So I rushed into the nearest supermarket and picked up the first product I saw on the shelf.

waitrose eye mup rem

Under £2.00 and it works!

lancome bi fical

Exceptional Performance from Lancome

Another good range is Caudalie. The products are a delight to use and are very gentle on your skin. The price is reasonable too.

caudalie eye rem

A delight to use and very gentle

Despite using a gentle formula you may, like me, occasionally have puffy eyes (I’m an avid reader and I’m sure this doesn’t help!) so I always have a jar of Clinique All About Eyes to hand.

clinique all about eyes

Creating a working wardrobe

My client is a busy business executive with little time, or inclination, for shopping. Added to which she is often travelling and working away from home. She wanted a capsule wardrobe that would travel well and some key tips on how to put the various items together. I always do my research so I asked her a series of questions to determine what additions to her wardrobe were needed and to get an idea of her lifestyle. We decided to devote a whole day to shopping. Me with an added spring in my step, because shopping is my favourite activity, and her with some reluctance and slightly gritted teeth!

Here’s Ruth’s style story.

“I have to say, I used to shop out of necessity. I would put off shopping until I absolutely had to and then end up buying something that I didn’t feel completely comfortable in. I needed a working wardrobe that would help me to look my best and could fit in a suitcase for a week. Successful shopping, a brilliant working wardrobe that travels well are not easily achieved – until you find Brenda. I had long admired her style and then one day we went shopping. An experience like no other. That day resulted in a capsule wardrobe that I look gorgeous in 2 years later. I still use the style tips Brenda gave me and no longer make expensive mistakes. Brenda’s style rejuvenation service is worth every penny. I plan to use her again and I can’t wait for the Masterclass!”

Ruth, CEO, Chester, UK