As we get back to “normal” life it’s time for us to get reacquainted with our wardrobes. It’s now too hot and not socially-acceptable to wear lycra and trainers 24/7. But it seems a lot of us have emerged from lockdown with a sense of unease about our clothes, our style and how they marry up. Some have lost or gained weight, some have changed their careers, some have had babies, some have changed their working habits and environment, some have changed their relationship, their social life and even their whole way of life. All of these life events have an impact on how we feel about ourselves, and inevitably how we want to dress.
I set up Shonamac 20 years ago in October, but had a hiatus 15 years ago when I trained as a “stylist” and, for a few years, did style consultations, wardrobe clearances and personal shopping for clients. The Trinny & Susannah phenomenon helped vast swathes of women inject themselves with self-confidence knowing they were “getting it right” and not making “fashion mistakes” – and I wanted to be part of that revolution.
But for me and the clients I helped, I came to realise that was just one small part of “styling”. Focussing on your body shape and colouring is what I call the basic “mechanics” of styling. Anyone can learn that and get it right. The challenge is putting those shapes and colours together in a way that makes a woman shine with confidence and feel at ease. When I was a brand new mother (pre Shonamac days) I needed a dress for my best friend’s wedding and, as I felt fat and frumpy, used a personal shopper. She convinced me that I needed to put my curvy figure in a purple wrap dress. So far so good (if unimaginative). So I spent £500 on a purple ditzy floral silk chiffon wrap dress with ruffled sleeves and neckline. Anyone who knows me will be grinning from ear to ear as the words floral, ditzy, chiffon, ruffle are not part of my wardrobe vocabulary. But at the time I was swayed by someone who was following the “mechanics” - but as she didn’t know me she had no idea she was telling me I looked amazing in a dress I felt super-uncomfortable in. I wore it to the wedding and hated every second of it. I never wore it again and ended up selling it. It was one of those cathartic events which made me think “never again” and started me down the path to learn more and ultimately change my career.
After being a styling “mechanic” for a few years I started to concentrate on coaching women through the process rather than telling them what to do. I even trained as a life coach and neural linguistic programming practitioner to be able to help women gain more insight into what their issues were around confidence, self-image and how they wanted to present themselves to the world. I then started working with the London Transgender Clinic and their patients which was some of the most rewarding yet challenging work I have ever done. But after one particular fortnight spending 8 hour days helping women melt their credit cards in Selfridges, I took a step back, hung up my high heels and concentrated on the resale business.
So as I talk to customers and our sellers in the shop as the world opens up, I have been fascinated by the repeated message – that we have cocooned ourselves for a year and emerging from that cocoon is proving a challenge. Many women are re-evaluating their relationship with their wardrobe as it no longer feels appropriate, but beyond that they are floundering.
Listening to these women I have decided to come out of “retirement” and offer wardrobe coaching (for want of a better word) to those who are struggling. The aim is always to come away from the process with a capsule wardrobe of sustainable pieces that will allow you to easily put together outfits for anything your life throws at you. That may not mean buying anything new at all. It may give you a shopping list of a few pieces that will pull everything together (happy to provide suggestions but my Selfridges/Harvey Nichols days are over!). It may need a complete rethink but that’s OK – as long as the result of the rethink is what’s going to work for the foreseeable future.
If you are interested in talking further about how I could help you then please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org. As an indication, I would normally send you an initial questionnaire booklet for you to complete and return to me. We would then use that to do a two hour initial coaching session, a two hour session to go through the styling mechanics (colours, shapes, etc) and then a further session with your wardrobe. Additional coaching sessions can be added if needed. Sessions either in person or over Zoom. References available.