When I don't know what to wear....I mostly freak out and consider not leaving the house! Seriously.
How do these ladies do it? How do they manage to just 'know' what to wear?
Caroline Herrera has this quality in spades. That elusive combination of class and confidence that spells 'Chic'. Grace Kelly had it too, as did Audrey Hepburn, and more recently, Australias own Nicole Kidman. Note that these woman are more about 'style' than 'celebrity'. They are two very different things.
The inherent ability to know what works for you and what doesn't, and how to use that to work magic on the way you present yourself each and every day, doesn't seem to come easily to many of us, but you can learn! This is after all, a skill, as much as any other, like driving, baking, embroidering, or learning to use technology. You have to 'learn' the skill, you practice, you might fail a couple of times, and finally you master the skill. For some of us, this takes a lifetime, and we only master it when we accept that looking good every day, isn't the domain of celebrities. It's within everyones reach.
It's a common misconception that you have to be wealthy or of a certain ethnicity or culture to know how to look good. Granted, the French do seem to be 'born' with the ability to look Chic, but that's a whole other topic. Caroline Herrera is Venezuelan, not a culture that immediately springs to most peoples minds (rightly or wrongly) when one imagines a stylish look. My point is, that we need not feel defeated before we start, just because we're Australian, or South African or from New Zealand or Canada or Russia. We can stop settling for less than lovely, by acknowledging that our place of birth or where we live, be it country, city or suburb, does not have to dictate the way we dress or how well groomed we are, when we step out the door each day.
So, step number one. Stop telling yourself that you are too old, too fat, too tired, too frumpy, too financially constrained, or that you live in the wrong suburb, the wrong city, the wrong country or that your friends will think less of you, because you suddenly decide to look your best. Stop it. Now. And promise me you won't do that any more. The first eight are just demoralising and aren't true anyway, and the ninth says that maybe you need new friends! Or as someone wise once said to me, 'when two people meet, one will be the influencer, and one the influenced...which will you be?'.
My Mum repeated this often, in a different way. She would say to me 'don't lower yourself for anyone Darling'. Yep. That's right.
Second step, what's wrong with being the best dressed person in the room? Why is that considered a no-no all of a sudden. Once upon a time, that was the aim. Why oh why, do we all suddenly want to be less than we can be? It's so sad.
When I was composing this post, and searching for images to accompany it, this quote from Caroline Herrera jumped out at me. Because at the bottom of the attitude that 'I don't matter anymore', which translates to 'I don't have time' and 'my friends will think I'm getting above myself' and the plethora of other excuses we use, is perhaps this one simple idea...
"I don't know how".
Dress codes used to be very cut and dried. People knew what to wear because social mores spelled it all out quite clearly. Even when I was a child there were rules. I remember being so excited to get Cherry Red patent leather shoes with a small heel to wear to church on Sundays. The Cherry Red was a concession to the fact that I was no longer a small child (I think I was actually about nine years old by then), and the small heel, even more so. Prior to that, I wore little white Mary Janes with white frilled socks for Sunday Best. Wearing Cherry Red Patent leather with a heel, with hosiery, was very special and grown up. Nowadays, toddlers wear black, and teens wear whatever they want, and it's all quite liberating, I'll grant you that.
But back to you and me, and the "I don't know how".
In the last little while, I've acknowledged that I've used all of the abovementioned excuses, and finally decided that enough was enough. I matter. I need to set an example for my own daughter, now entering her young adult life. I need to show that I care about ME, as much as I care about her, and my family. That's a very important lesson.
So here I am. Decluttering, and reimagining myself as I wrestle with the end of my child rearing years, and face what will happily be a long and prosperous retirement with my beloved.
I accepted that maybe, despite what I thought, I could learn a thing or two, so I signed up for Marie-Anne Lecouers French Chic Academy. I'm taking the full Academy course, but you can also opt to tackle it piece by piece, commencing with the module to dress your shape here.
So, thirdly, accept what you do not know, and work on that!
Getting to know my body shape and what suits me has been a huge learning curve and an extremely valuable one. I highly recommend you do the same. It will change the way you think. I promise. It is in fact, one of the key reasons that French women truly do always look chic. They know their body shape and dress to suit. No fashions and fads and trends. Just what suits them, each and every day.
If you are unable to invest the money in Marie-Annes courses at this time, there are plenty of other resources to support you online.
Try here for measuring your Body Shape Proportions.
Then educate yourself. Pinterest, blogs, books from your local library...they can all help.
Do it. For you.
So. Here's my question...When you don't know what to wear...what do YOU choose?
Last year, I was choosing ripped jeans, ballet flats, loose shirts and empire line dresses. I had a wardrobe full of things I didn't wear, things I was hoping I'd fit into one day, and things I'd worn once and decided I didn't really like. I had 23 pairs of shoes, and so many necklaces and pairs of earrings, I could have opened my own accessory store. Don't get me wrong, in the middle of all that was some stuff I really liked that was quite stylish. I'm not a complete dead loss! But it was time. Time to let go of my Mummy wardrobe, and emerge as the person I'd wanted to be for at least a decade, but didn't really know how.
I've educated myself by taking the French Chic Academy course, and by doing lots and lots of online reading. I'm getting better at this, I think.
This year, when I don't know what to wear, and bearing in mind my Petite Plus Sized Apple Shape, I'm choosing:
Black wrap dress
I've had my hair cut, and I spend time on it every day rather than racing out the door with it scraped into a messy bun, which was acceptable, but not ideal. I've invested in some products to help me style my hair well, and learned how to use them properly, by finding a hairdresser that specialises in curly hair. This means I can stop torturing my hair with the hair straightener, and learn to love my curls all over again. Remember, it's about learning, practising, mastering.
I lay my outfit out the night before, including appropriate accessories, and make sure I have made choices that are flattering, not just convenient. 'Convenience' has been a big part of my wardrobe repertoire for far too long.
I'm making ME a priority. You should too. We deserve it.
Here's me 'doing a Caroline'. She's my new style icon, and four short months ago, I would not have imagined I could model my wardrobe on hers. But here I am. Not Caroline. Not even imagining I could be her, but making her style work for me in my own way.
I've adopted her neutral colour scheme, a semi A-line skirt, her button down blouse, minimalist accessorising, her peeptoe heels with red toenails, and her confident stance. I'll be perfecting my French Chignon next, and working on a good self tanner for my legs a la Caroline, so it really is baby steps, isn't it. But it just goes to show, that you CAN adapt these looks for your own shape and colouring, once you deal with the "I don't know how" issue.
You can do it too. Make your number one task for the next month, to find two outfits, one every day, and one special occasion, that can be your go-to, when you don't know what to wear. Determine your body shape, find your own style icon, and go for it.