B – lieve & achieve

beeMy style business name, Jenny B, didn’t come from nowhere:

  1. The B is the first letter of my surname. Using it means that I won’t confuse people!
  2. My contact name at my previous employment was Jenny Be. And, as being, is the only way to be a successful human being I rather took to this.
  3. I like and admire bees. They are an inspiration about what can be achieved if we want to be who we are. Aerodynamically they should not be able to fly – but they do!

Last week I was invited to speak at the annual Barnardo’s lunch at Horton Grange. Great fun and very invigorating.

This week I was asked to do an evening workshop in Brancepeth to raise money for Dorothy’s Well Project, Tanzania. Another fun and invigorating occasion.

Put a great number of women in one place and provide them with a wonderfully relaxing venue, the opportunity to eat, drink, chat and share magnanimously and you have a winning formula.

Of course, a committee determined to make the occasion a success is also needed. The success of both, as far as I could see, was not only the energy and commitment of the committee but, most importantly, its members taking the opportunity to learn from each event organised and to tweak what follows accordingly – the opportunity to improve and move with the times; to move incrementally towards perfection knowing that perfection will never be achieved but delighting in this fact rather than being defeated by it.

And this is exactly how great and successful personal style is achieved.

Perfection will never be reached. I have never met the perfect person either in dress, deeds or demeanour. I do not believe that the perfect person even exists. However, I have met people who exist perfectly.

How do they do this?

They are positive thinkers and they present themselves positively.

They enjoy challenge. They are interested in themselves and in others. They have a curiosity about life and their role in it. They enjoy the space that they use in life. They enjoy being who they are and they communicate that enjoyment to those they meet.

The majority of clients who come to work with me are quite sure that they are into a hide to nothing; that whatever they do to try to improve how they look and how they feel will not work.

Some have tried before.

Some have decided there is no point in trying.
Some would like to try but are not sure that it is worth it. After all they have got by thus far so why look for change when they might fail?

All are looking in the wrong direction. They are looking down rather than up. And because they are looking down rather than up, they feel down rather than up.

Bees shouldn’t be able to fly. Has no one told them or did they choose not to hear?

The scientifically observed flaws and faults that should prevent them from flying just don’t.

The facts are that bees can fly with the features that they have been given.

Bees know what they want to do – they want to buzz, and busily trip from one flower to another and gather pollen and make honey – and be!

No negative thinking here.

Being at one with your inner and outer self is easy – just find out what the facts are. Decide on the features that you have and choose those to use and those to lose.

You won’t necessarily feel good if you look good – but it is far more likely!

What you will do is make it very easy for others to know who you are.

Within 3 seconds those you meet are going to make many a decision about you … whether you look like the sort of person they would like to spend time with, whom they can trust, who will be good at what they do, what sort of education they have had, what sort of lifestyle they have … so to create a personal style that speaks of the person you really are is a must if you want to communicate effectively.

I am ashamed to tell you this BUT …. I spent years convinced that I did not like a person I met at a work conference. She looked dull, cross and opinionated and a bit scary. Five years later I found out that she was interesting, warm and a diverse thinker. I like her very much and rue the five years wasted. Was it my fault for jumping to the wrong conclusions or her fault for giving me the wrong signals?

Does “fault” come into this? Probably not.

The facts are that she presented a negative image of herself and I didn’t wait around long enough to find out how mis-guided these signals were.

I will leave you with the secret that I shared with the lunch and evening guests.

Last year had a multiple set of challenges that gathered together as my own annus horribilis as well as an annus mirabilis with the birth of Andres – first Bersin grandchild.

As you can imagine, housework was not high on the list. Actually it rarely reached the list at all. I found that taking my glasses off really helped here as did candlelight when friends came for the evening.

A month ago I decided that housekeeping needed a gentle re-assertion – a light dusting down. Not doing badly until I came to a Malin jug with a dehydrated bat in its bottom! An analogy for life & style?

If you don’t keep yourself dusted down you may find a dehydrated and wizened bat, old and inconsequential before its time, staring at you from the bottom of the jug – or your mirror!

If you don’t know how –find out. If I had kept dusting that lovely little bat could still be alive and flying and being!

NOW. ALWAYS. STYLE

baby bThis is our grandson at 8 weeks old wearing the same jumper that his father wore at around the same age. It was made by a work colleague’s wife as a gift. He asked many a time what we were going to call our bump and, as I couldn’t tell him, his wife put “baby” as an all rounder. What a result – this now means that ooooooooodles of Baby Bersins will be able to wear this very same jumper. A family heirloom is created! Thank you, Sue Reeve, for the conception of and the knitting of.

The purpose of this photo and short tale other than to show the gorgeous Andres off?

Quite simple. Style was 34 years ago … style is now and style will be in another 34 years or so. What worked for our son Jem and works for his son, Andres, is style! Always.

Battered, beaten and bruised by images of fashion perfection we forget that perfection lies with ourselves. We can create a look that flatters our shape and frames our personality IF we stop ourselves from falling into negative thinking and rise to the challenge of positive thinking instead.

It isn’t easy. If it was we would all be doing it and the fashion industry and the perfection quake would not exist. I wouldn’t have a job.

Last Friday I found myself in a church hall surrounded by babies and their mums and dads for a singing group. The singing didn’t happen as the leader had lost her voice but there was much playing and noise and interacting with toys and one another. The babies and toddlers all different shapes and sizes appeared very happy with being themselves. The dads didn’t seem too unhappy either.

Not so the mums. I heard many a conversation about the change in their bodies since childbirth. Not one comment was positive. All were looking back to the pre-baby body and many were wishing that they could return to the slimmer, svelter, better proportioned bodies they once had.

The truth is that if I had heard them speaking pre-baby bumps I am pretty sure that not one of them would have thought that the body they had then was exquisite and worth celebrating. Hindsight is an interesting thing but it doesn’t help us live in the now.

So, what do we need for now that will last us always?

Remember that great style has two essential elements: the factual and the emotional. Both need to be addressed.

Here’s how.

THE FACTUAL

  • Be AWARE of what you have – don’t guess what your shape your body is, get the facts.
  • BALANCE what you want to – don’t wallow in negativity get it sorted.
  • CREATE shapes that give you the shape you want – positive thinking is needed
  • DIVERT from areas that you do not want others to notice – you choose
  • ENHANCE the areas that you want others to notice – you are in charge!

THE EMOTIONAL

  • APPRECIATE what you have – if you don’t you won’t allow anyone else to.
  • BE YOU – finding the look that suits you means you will look like you – not a Barbie doll
  • CONFIDENCE – success creates more success.
  • DELIGHT – in what you have, you do not have faults – you do have features.
  • EMPOWER – knowledge is power.

As easy as ABCDE! You know where I am if you need some help along the way……..

 

 

KITE IN A HURRICANE

kiteLast 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!