Last week I watched two films back to back. Actually, to be absolutely correct, they were sandwiched by a fish and chip supper. I needed sustenance.
The afternoon film was “Lady in the Van” and the evening film was “Spectre”.
My thoughts on each.
“Lady in the Van” … pure Alan Bennett and quite brilliant. I wish I could write like that.
“Spectre” … pure Bond and very entertaining. I wish I could drive like that.
So where am I going here?
First off – “kite in a hurricane” is how the baddie describes Bond’s attempt to unravel the challenge he faces.
It struck home rather forcibly because it is that feeling of smallness and lack of substance against a climate of thinking so huge and forceful that often brings clients come to my door. How can they make effective and powerful statements about who and what they are when there is a raging fashion and media hurricane buffeting them into believing that they just aren’t of the calibre needed to make that change? That personal discovery and unabashed experimentation is only for those achingly sublime less than twenty –five year olds somethings or Bond women whose every centimetre of their dress and demeanour exists as validation of how smoothly stylish and sizzlingly hot they are.
The response of us mere mortals – the ones who make their own meals, change their own beds, put out the cat, bring in the dog et al is to huddle protectively into what is safe and into what we have always done with not a thought about whether what we are doing is working well for us.
“I always wear black” …. “If you tell me I can’t wear flat shoes I am leaving now” … “ I hate green” … “I don’t want to look like a parrot”… “My friend chose this for me, she always looks fantastic.”.
The above are all things that have been said to me and talking to clients at The Style Room and guests at style talk & workshop venues I will make an unscientific guess of 90%, give or take …
The reasons are many … “in a rut “ … “don’t want to look foolish” … “black will make me look slim” … “grey is not going to offend” … “ I lack the confidence to do any thing else” …. “I look awful in …. (choose a colour or style)”….” I don’t have time to worry about how I look”.
Staying where we are with a wardrobe filled with the wrong colours and shapes in which to clothe ourselves may seem like an easy option but it causes all sorts of difficulties.
Not to understand how colour and style and shape works prevents you from exploring what you can do with you.
The daily throwing on a uniform of safeness that doesn’t work for you be it bright or dull or whether at work or home is to ignore who you are and how you feel.
Clothes in the right shape, scale and shade help us all to say what we want to say in the way we want to say it.
You only have to look at Maggie Smith as Miss Shepherd and Maggie Smith as The Dowager Countess, Lady Violet, to know how true this is.
Both are strong characters with acid-tongues but threadbare dishabille versus inimitable élan appear before us just by the wardrobes they are given to wear.
One woman loses authority and credibility by what the Wardrobe Department choose for her to wear whilst the other gains power and credibility. It is something that we can all do.
Wearing clothes that work well for us as an individual will give us confidence and energy. In turn that confidence and energy is passed on to those we meet.
It takes a strong character to stay individual and to allow their inner character to start making sense. Put simply, to dress as the person you actually are.
It takes an even stronger one to acknowledge that they may need help with this, that flight is not the answer to looking like the person they actually are but that fight armed with help is.
To look like the person you actually are is about learning how to make small, careful adjustments that say something new and exciting about who you. Great and successful personal style is about bringing out the real substance of yourself, not creating a superficial image.
Do this and you gain the upper hand; however hard that hurricane buffets, bellows and bullies. You become in charge of the clothes that you wear.
And you have a two way choice: embrace the freedom to be wayward and experimental a la Lady Gaga or find your own inner chic and be a pinnacle of suave sophistication a la Vanessa Redgrave.
Which is where we come to “A Lady in the Van”. Most particularly, in this instance, to Maggie Smith.
As the imperious and determined Miss Shepherd, Maggie Smith embraces the role of an eccentric bag lady who believes herself to be “a person of significance”. Laughable. Her dress and demeanour is not that of one of life’s winners. She, and her clothes, are dirty, old and mis-shappen. A rag bag.
But, her belief that she is significant – made her so (with more than a little help from Alan Bennett!)
Her personal writings and papers are now stored at The Bodleian and she has had not only a book but a play and a film written about her too.
So whilst we might titter at her notion that one day she would be elected as Prime Minister and have to choose between living at No 10 or in her van – in actuality, she achieved so much more … longevity.
I imagine that Miss Shepherd will still be being studied in schools and colleges and watched on stage when David Cameron or Jeremy Corbyn and their brat packs are long forgotten.
The daily throwing on of a uniform of safeness that doesn’t work for you be it bright or dull; at work or at home, is to dress daily with lacklustre. When you dress, your shape and scale and colouring are factors that need consideration but just as important of all to consider who you are and how you feel.
Clothes in the right shape, scale and shade help us all to say what we want to say in the way we want to say it. How many of us want to say tired, unhealthy and ageing however thin or safe such a colour combination may make us look?
Wearing clothes that work well for you will energise you and give you confidence. In turn that energy and confidence is passed on to those we meet.
Looking into a mirror that reflects back you as an individual creating a positive impact will brighten up your day and brighten up the day of others. You will be fired-up not fed-up for life not just February 2016.
Once you have the information you need you can build and experiment and build again
With knowledge comes confidence. With confidence comes success. With success comes more success.
There is no need to be a kite in a hurricane ….
If I can help – you know where I am.
Go stylishly this 2016!