And that’s where the School of Life comes in. A fantastic concept that I certainly couldn’t articulate any better than they do themselves:
“We address such issues as how to find fulfilling work, how to master the art of relationships, how to understand one’s past, how to achieve calm and how better to understand, and where necessary change, the world.”
Pretty cool huh? I have had a number of the School for Life courses on my list for a long time. So when I received a gift voucher from a kind individual for my birthday last year, I really struggled to know where to put my stake in the ground.
In the end I decided to brush up on my personal style, with a special event called ‘Dressing Well’. Now, I should clarify, I wouldn’t say that I dress badly (though feel free to disagree). I just don’t think I have quite nailed my own individual style yet, and was keen to get an expert opinion on the matter.
Cue Samantha Clarke, the wonderful, insightful and encouraging lady that ran the session. Now, I don’t want to give all of the magic away because I really would encourage you to head to one of her sessions for yourself – you will get far more out of it personally, but I will share with you some of the gems that I picked up from the sessions, and the things that particularly resonated with me.
Don’t bow to fashion
It might seem like an obvious one, but I think it is something that bears repeating; must we be in fashion? There really is no need to follow what the industry deems to be in fashion. It’s about what suits you and your style, and that is something that is innate.
Stick with your intuition and don’t try keep buying things that you know don’t suit you. I am frequently guilty of that so it was a good reminder.
Think about how you feel in clothes when you try them on (usually one of my biggest downfalls as I frequently order online). Think about length, colour, how something sits on you and whether it accentuates the part of your body that you consider to be your best.
I am very guilty of buying clothes because I like the look of them on the hanger, or on other people. I am not always 100% honest about how they make me feel in them.
So on my to do list is a complete wardrobe edit, trying everything on and if I don’t truly feel good in it…it has to go in the charity bag.
have a wallet free shopping day
Doesn’t sound that much fun does it?! But by taking the impulse out of shopping, and allowing yourself time to try the things that catch your eye on, you can then head home and contemplate the purchases you want to make.
Chances are it will be the clothes that you really felt good in that will stick with you and you will avoid those dreaded impulse buys that rarely see the light of day outside of your wardrobe.
I tend to be a slave to black. And one of the main reasons for this is that I have never been particularly gifted at pairing colour combinations. But one of my favourite tips from the event was to look to nature to gain inspiration.
Well, nature and some glossy magazines.
By flicking through and picking up on the images, and spreads that draw your eye, you can get some renewed ideas on colour combinations to introduce into your outfits.
Doing this every couple of months will help push your comfort zones and stop you from going for the obvious, and ‘safe’ colours.
the balance of investment
I tend to focus a lot of my purchases on the budget end of the scale, preferring quantity over quality to feed my shopping habit. But of course they don’t tend to stay the course and often they don’t keep their shape and hang on you in quite the way you would hope. So it made a lot of sense when Sam talked through how the make-up of your wardrobe should really sit:
- 60% of items should be your investment pieces, your wardrobe staples and the things that need to last. So your boots, your bags, your shoes and your key pieces.
- 30% should be your hard-working soldiers, your hosiery, long sleeves tops, every day pieces that mix and match with everything.
- 15% should be your USP items, the things that make up your personal style accents and your accessories
- 5% should be your trend stuff, the things that might not make it through to the next season.
And as you go down that scale, so should your spend on the items in these sections. So I can see that it is totally fine to nip to Primark to boost some trend pieces in my wardrobe that don’t need to last, but that perhaps I should invest some more pennies in the things that service me day in day out, season after season.
In terms of what those items actually are – one very obvious but important point is that the proportions in your wardrobe should match the proportions of activities in your life. So, unless you area regular party girl, your work wardrobe should out weigh your party pieces. Mine don’t. And I am not a regular party girl. So you can see some of the pieces that are going to bite the dust in the wardrobe edit.
we are family
Group things in your wardrobe, make them part of families – things that you can mix and match together and interchange to style outfits up or down. It will make them work harder and make you feel like you have more options.
If you buy something that isn’t going to go with everything else you own, you need to think about whether it is something that is really missing in your wardrobe that you need to build a family around…or if it is just a fad buy. Chances are it is probably more the latter.
It’s a definite lesson in not buying emotionally…I am drawn to buying ‘pretty’ things, but neglect to fully assess if they make me feel pretty.
tell a story
When you are choosing an outfit, think about what sort of look you want to convey…but don’t go so far out of your comfort zone that you no longer look like yourself.
If you lean towards a classic style then make sure you always have classic elements in your outfits. But that doesn’t mean you can’t play around with it, include playful pieces too. Burst of colour, or pattern, or a funky trend piece.
It’s all about working with your signature style and giving it a personal lilt.
make it one of your yeses
That’s it really in a nutshell, Sam did a lot of work in helping us all to dig deeper on what our signature style (or sleeve as she calls it) really is, with a handy little quiz to guide you in the right direction. But I won’t reveal all of that here because I really think you should head along to learn more. It’s really helped me to think about what I wear though.
You can find out about the latest School of life courses here, and more specifically Sam’s courses here…even if style consultancy isn’t for you, she also teaches classes about career choices, relationships, and so much more besides.
p.s. I know I am a bit of a fan girl, but Rock My Style also has some pretty great tips on finding your personal style. It includes mood boards (one of my favourite things ever, hence the Pinterest addiction), capsule wardrobe chat, and starting with the basics. Check it out here.
p.p.s. in case you are interested in finding out more about that Pinterest addiction, you can follow us here. There’s style inspiration aplenty!