STYLE – TRUMP IT!

trumpAn interesting outcome to the American Presidential election! Once again the poll forecasters didn’t really see it coming……

So, what does style have to do with President Elect Mr Trump? One thing is for sure – his style is nothing like the man whom he succeeds.

If Mr Trump were to ask me, and I am quite sure that he won’t, I have the top ten 10 nuggets of wisdom that I should like to pass on both to him and to all those who wish their style to be not just “good enough” but “WOW”!

1. Practice makes perfect
2. Treat others as you yourself would like to be treated
3. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again
4. Manners cost nothing
5. You can’t judge a book by its cover
6. Good things come to those who wait
7. Two wrongs don’t make a right
8. It’s not the winning, it’s the taking part that counts
9. Never say never
10. There’s no time like the present

Words of wisdom are useless if we fail to relate them to the life we have and if we fail to put them into practice.

The difficulties and challenges that modern day living throws at us makes it hard to trump our own style. Francesca Martinez (stand up comedian, actress & author of “What the **** is Normal?”) calls this “the giant unhappiness machine”. Unlike most of us she refuses to be defined by the media’s narrow notion of what a great looking person looks and acts like. Born with Cerebral Palsy she is acutely aware of the pressure that society puts on each of us to conform to pre-set standards & to be “normal”.

She believes we are too often dis-empowered by our efforts to aspire to impossible dreams of normality. We learn to fear difference rather than accept that what is normal is that every one is different. We look to being the same rather than shining out as an individual. We define ourselves not by what we can do but by what we cannot do. I see this day in day out with the clients that I work with and the people that I meet at style events.

A thought – the celebration of the individual – “Strictly” …. just look at the different shapes and personalities of those competing. Just look at how Wardrobe celebrates those differences and works with them. Diverting here, delineating there. A delight!

How about this? “Accepting yourself as you are is an act of civil disobedience” (Francesca Martinez again). I like that idea! Let’s relate that to style:

1. Practice makes perfect … it certainly does. Creating a style that works for you (and no one else) is not as easy as it looks but, the more effort you put in –the easier it becomes and the more effortless it looks.
2. Treat others as you yourself would like to be treated … your children, grandchildren, friends, work colleagues are all, just like you, living with the tyranny of being “normal”. We need to be very strong if we are not to be knocked off our confidence perches. Do all that you can to instil confidence in those around you with positive thinking and comments. Most importantly – lead by example. Not do as I say but do as I do! If you are worrying about your weight, height, age … that is what others will learn too. Mr Trump doesn’t look like George Clooney or any other media hunk but this hasn’t stopped him succeeding with the goals he has set himself.
3. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again … absolutely, but don’t tie yourself in knots. Find out what the basics of great style are:

SAY STYLE PERSONALITY SHAPE SCALE SHADE

… and use them to develop a style that works for you. Mr Trump has a style that works for him – it works for those who voted him in too!
4. Manners cost nothing … style manners take into account who you are meeting and the occasion that you are dressing for. You may love dressing as a Goth but that is not what your client is looking for if you are a teacher or solicitor. You may be powerful & efficient at work but this is not what will fill your child’s heart with joy & confidence when you are at home. Find a way to match who you are with the role that you are fulfilling at any time in your day. I wonder if Mr Trump wears a fluffy onesie at home?!
5. You can’t judge a book by its cover … no you can’t but we do! Which is why there is such a huge industry attached to book design & illustration. It takes 3 seconds on first meeting someone to decide whether we like them, trust them and believe that they will be good at what they do. If you get it wrong it will take another 6 months to change their thinking around. Photos of Trump meeting Obama after the election result speak much louder than the words that were said.
6. Good things come to those who wait … yes they do but you have to be actively waiting. Sitting and wishing that things could be different will only sustain an unhappy status quo. Get out there and make positive moves and have positive thoughts to be where you want to be. Trump did it – so can you.
7. Two wrongs don’t make a right … they certainly don’t. So why keep buying clothes & accessories & colours that don’t work for you? If what you buy feels wrong – it is wrong. Find out why and you won’t make the same mistake again. Don’t build an impenetrable wall (or fence) around yourself that won’t allow the truth in.
8. It’s not the winning, it’s the taking part that counts … another style truth and one that Hilary Clinton dealt extremely well with (in public at least). Great style is part of who you are they are the clothes & accessories & colours in which you feel yourself whether you are 15 or 95. This isn’t a race or a competition – this is about you growing & developing and enjoying that growth & development. We haven’t seen or heard the last of Hilary of that I am quite sure.
9. Never say never … everyone and anyone can find a style that works for them whatever their age, shape or height. You have features & facts not faults & flaws. Learn to think positively not negatively. Mr Trump. Mr Obama. Mrs Trump. Mrs Obama. Each has a style. Each is making it work for them – each makes themselves more or less attractive to those that they meet.
10. There’s no time like the present … so get cracking!!!!! Forget prevarication and grab those style horns. You know where I am if you need an objective eye and a bit of a hand to lead the way …. let’s successfully play the style trump card in 2017 and let Donald get on with being Mr Obama’s successor..

IT LOOKED SO MUCH BETTER IN THE SHOP!

betterI was sent this postcard by a client as a “thank you” for the style & colour work that we had done together. I love it because it encompasses the style-lost in just 8 words & one picture.

As does this, Mignon McLaughlin in her book, The Neurotic’s Notebook, wrote “Women usually love what they buy, yet hate two thirds of what is in their closets.”

I was in Guildford on Saturday doing a Personal Shopping Consultation when a woman came out of the changing rooms to show her daughter her “outfit” – dress, jacket & shoes.

What did she think? Would it do for the interview – most importantly would she also be able to wear each of the items again at some stage in the future?

Her daughter preferred the black suede kitten heels to the black suede wedges. So did I. But the wearer was not sure that she would wear a pair of heels again. Too uncomfortable.

We got to chatting and the information I gleaned was not good:

  • The interview was on Monday so something had to be bought NOW and there was going to be no opportunity to take in the dress & take up the sleeves of the jacket to fit. No time either to buy anything other than the best of the lot: “That will have to do”
  • She had no idea about what she wanted her clothes to say about herself. How will her interviewers be able to bond with her? And because she had no idea she defaulted to paying a lot of money in the vain hope that the cost of the outfit will override its ineffectiveness.
  • Work clothes are best staying at work. Trying to buy clothes and shoes that will do for other events is unlikely to be successful. Particularly when the work that you do requires formal dressing.

An effective confident personal image is relevant in both in our work and play lives. Most importantly, developing a look that speaks positively of who we are gives us the opportunity to know ourselves, like ourselves and to our own ourselves in a positive not negative way. It is about speaking clearly without saying a word. The lady in the shop was floundering because she had no idea about what she wanted to say about herself at the interview.

I think that she had done what most of us do when we don’t want to do or think of something – she put off the interview outfit choosing until the very last minute. Not a good strategy. Having a perfectly clear style strategy gives us a real opportunity to be ourselves, and to present ourselves, in the way that we wish. AND to get it right!

It very much seemed to me that she was confusing fashion with style – and fashion was not important to her. However, she then fell into the fashion trap – fashion is about being identified by the labels that are worn and makes us part of the crowd we seek to belong to. Style is about the perfectly clear shining through of the individual and is about using dress and demeanour as a celebration and an expression of who we are. She didn’t need to be in that shop feeling awkward and inadequate; she was a bright, warm, attractive human being. What she needed was style know-how.

We can’t find or display a confident image (which is what she wanted for that interview) when we have little, or no, direction – we need a clear and precise strategy.

Developing such a strategy gives us the chance to look at where we are and where we want to be; to signal who we are effectively and powerfully and manoeuvre change in a way that suits ourselves. Here’s how:

First Impressions Count – Know the Impact

Meet someone new and it takes just three seconds for you to have made that indelible first impression. With just a glance, you evaluate them. Two things happen so quickly they could almost be as one: firstly, you notice the quality and level of energy they give out; whether they are open or closed, charming or alarming, secondly, you respond to how they look from their grooming to what they are wearing… and they do the same to you!

In those same three seconds, they have appraised your visual and behavioural appearance from head to toe. They have instantly analysed your dress, mannerisms and body language. You may intrigue some and disenchant others but feel something about you they certainly will. If they like what they see they will unconsciously tend to see the best in you and look for opportunities to say “yes”. If they don’t like what they see, the opposite is true.

Then, inside a further 87 seconds, without you having said a word, you have been appraised and decisions have been made as to how good you are at your job, what your social standing is, how educated you are and how much you can be trusted. It will take six months for those first impressions to be changed.

On first meeting, only 7% of what you say counts, the rest is down to your dress, demeanour and voice. This is the basis on which you attract that gorgeous woman/man across the room, make friends, win or lose at interviews, in meetings and making sales pitches. And, if you don’t believe me, conjure up someone you know of in your head. Boris Johnson, perhaps! What do you see in your mind’s eye? A naked, motionless Boris or a clothed, animated Boris? It will happen with everyone you can think of alive or dead.

Your height, weight, hair, symmetry of face and body are a big part of this first impression. Some of these things are beyond our control but with style knowledge you can create the illusion of a near perfect body that will attract and not deter those you meet. And, will mean that you can positively enjoy who you are and what you have.

Tease or Please – Your Choice

Those that tease are generally of the opinion that others must take them as they find; they may look dishevelled, disorganised and drab but beneath they are a power house of vibrancy, intelligence and diligence. They leave it to those whom they meet to be amazed and delighted when they discover the real person who lies below that drear and unpromising surface!

Research shows that how you look affects not only how you feel about yourself but how others feel about you too. And, apparently, those who are successful not only increase their earning power but also the confidence that they have in themselves whether at home work or play.

Those that please take an easier route; designers and creators make it their business (because it is their business!) to look as though they have flair, originality and inspired thought, whereas teachers and solicitors meet the needs of their clients by looking dependable, honest and with integrity. If they don’t, those that they meet may find it difficult to believe that they are good at what they do and worth listening to or employing.

An example. I am working with a client whose job is to guide and support senior managers into creating and effecting change within their businesses. Her role is one that is both inspirational and challenging. In terms of experience and intellect she is extremely able BUT she sees a yawning gap. Whilst her deeds and demeanour are spot-on her dress falls short. During her first consultation she described her choice of work dress as “conforming … corporate … dull.” Where does she want to be? “Confident … self-assured … chic … original … “. Easy enough to do now that she has recognised where she is and where she would like to be.

An Image Strategy – The Spiral of Success

Looking good at what you do inspires those you whom we meet to have confidence in our skills. The more inspired they are; the more confident you become. The more confident you become; the more you inspire others into recognising you as a positive presence in their lives. You have clinched the art of being in demand. Being in demand will mean that you are more likely to be in a position to pick the job you want, the friend you want, the lifestyle you want.

The finding of our own personal image is liberating. And, icing on the cake, get it right and you could be making 8-20% more than your competitors who don’t.

All you need is a simple strategy based on self-acceptance not self-criticism.

The mantra that I use with my clients is this:

SAY … STYLE PERSONALITY … SHAPE … SCALE & PROPORTION … SHADE

Understand it, implement it and you’ll find developing your own effective personal style easy and effortless. Some of those who do it now … Michelle Obama, Aung San Suu Kyi, Mary Beard, Gyles Brandryth, Brian Cox, Bob Geldorf.

These are not necessarily conventionally beautiful people but they are people with direction and focus who speak about who they are and what they are and what is important to them not only in their deeds but in their dress, demeanour too. We do not need to speak to them to know this.

This is successful style in action: confident, spirited, characterful and truly personal.

I hope the woman in the shop got the job! The odds weren’t looking good.

Jenny Bersin owns Jenny B Style and Image Consultancy, and is author of Style, the Road to Freedom. Perfecting Personal Effectiveness, Dressing for Success, Addressing Dressing and The Art of Fiscal Attraction are just a few of the subjects covered in Jenny’s talks, workshops, small group and one to one consultations. To find out more contact Jenny on 01661 844190, e-mail jenny@jennyb.co.uk; or visit www.jennybstyle.co.uk.

STYLE POLITICS – leading with style

merkelMy daughter-in-law texted me just after Theresa May had disappeared with husband, Phillip, into number 10 …

“What is T.M. wearing???!”

The simple answer… “Clothes”.

Of course, the simple answer is no answer and the question asked is not a cat scratch from one woman to another but a genuine appeal to understand why a woman who has just become the leading politician in Britain seems not to understand what that means.

And no, this is not about bad taste or good taste.

And yes, I know that the woman above is not Theresa May BUT it could be. Read on dear reader!

It is about no taste at all.

Is this important?

Should our politicians (male & female) sort their clothes out before they change the world? (Lisa Armstrong. The Daily Telegraph. 9.07.16)

The simple answer … “Yes”.

That is not to say that what is required from our female politicians is to look like Maggie Gyllenhaal’s character in The Honourable Woman (glorious though she was) but it is to say that they should be conveying the same message. They should be studies in of female empowerment.

Clothes that fit their body, their personality, their aims . The shapes and silhouettes should move seamlessly and in sync with them and, at the very best, be an extension of themselves.

If nothing else they should present a positive image to the world and certainly an image that projects who they are and what is important to them.

If this acts as a shell to protect them from the trials and tribulations of leadership – even better.

Some have already achieved this (I am quite serious here) –Jeremy Corbyn .. Michelle Obama .. Geoffrey Archer .. Christine Lagarde.

If anyone thought that Theresa May’s outfit when visiting the Queen and pro-offering her talk to the nation was “fashion with authority” I beg to differ.

The collar of the jacket fought with the necklace. The necklace was too heavy for the cloth of the jacket and dress and the wrong colour for her own colouring and was at variance with the dress neckline. What a yellow piece of chiffon sown onto the three quarter length jacket was supposed to do I am not sure. It certainly didn’t create anything other than an annoying diversion to the line of both dress and jacket.

Even the shoes – and Theresa May does make some very good shoe choices – were drab.

On the bright side they did fit her feet quite perfectly and show off a well-shaped ankle and calf. And, the hem of her skirt fell just at the right pace to show off a damn fine pair of legs.

So, to answer my daughter-in-law … Theresa May was wearing an outfit that made her look dull and old-fashioned not a professional, approachable and new-thinking leader.

At times of such political excitement and turmoil it is ENORMOUSLY important that our leaders wear clothes with which the led can connect, identify and be assured by.

Nicola Sturgeon has a really good go – she often works with colour really well but her clothes are often too tight making her movements less fluid and expressive than they should be.

Angela Merkel wear suits that work with both her body and personality – strong in line & tight in weave of cloth. The look is marred by the choice of a baby blue or blurry beige and the addition of a fiddly out of scale necklace in an effort, I imagine, to feminise the look.

There is no need for them to make themselves look womanly by wearing a masculine cut navy suit and white blouse with soft frill – unless it suits them of course.

These women do not have to enter into the world of power dressing – women who want to be on a par with men. They are above these men already.

What they need to do is dress like the leader they want us to believe that they are.

Which is why Jeremy Corbyn, Michelle Obama, Geoffrey Archer & Christine Lagarde have got it so right:

Jeremy Corbyn – a man of the people. Anti-establishment. Serious and of few words.
Michelle Obama – energetic & contemporary. Intelligent and forward thinking.
Geoffrey Archer – a wolf in sheep’s clothing. His dress & demeanour conned us all, which is just what it was meant to do.
Christine Lagarde – sharp, chic, expensive. A banker to her beautifully manicured toes.

Amal Alamuddin (Mrs Clooney) knows how to do it. Joe Cox knew how to do it. Mrs May can learn how to do it.

What we need from Theresa May is the appearance of one who is thoughtful & aware & subtly powerful. Who is incisive, persuasive, approachable. In touch!

A sizable majority of the British people have just let politicians know that they neither like nor trust them. Dressing in the blobby, dull, shapeless garb of a middle aged, well-off and conservative woman is not going to work.

Her clothes need to instil confidence not create barriers between those within the political circles and those who aren’t.

Her clothes should speak of just that. Their shape should help her to stand and move and sit flawlessly.

The scale of patterns & accessories she wears should make the very best of her own physicality.

She should use colour to energise & engage so that even on “bad days” she looks the best that she possibly can.

To be taken seriously she needs to dress seriously. Those animal print court shoes are a great start!