Conscious Styling: the secret that sorts out your wardrobe to help you dress for success

Do you want to dress well at work to make a great impression, but stare at your wardrobe in confusion every morning? Helen Robinett's 'conscious styling' methods will help you to shop well and look great.

Have you ever wondered why some people look styled and ‘put together’ from their hair and accessories to their clothing choice and colours? It’s no fluke that some people have style and others just don’t. Some people tell me that style kings and queens are just born like that. I’m not buying it. What I know for sure is that this stuff is modelled from a very young age. If you’ve had great role models who have shown you the value of a good education, how to communicate and how to get yourself organised, congratulations! Our parents and teachers do their best to model what they can. Some of us are well skilled in some areas and leave the rest to chance. Same thing happens with an effective visual image and some sense of style. No one is born with it. It’s modelled and coached, for sure!

Conscious styling is about being seriously conscious about how you are building your wardrobe to set yourself up for success. If you are in business, and more particularly if you are in a service based profession this is crucial as the first impression a prospective client has of you forms a perception that will communicate a very strong impression of WHO you are. Your ability to look like the brand of your business/organisation will let the client know if you are the one they want to be doing business with. Elements of your grooming, choice of colour and accessories will send warning bells to your client as to the level of detail you will take in your dealings with them. If you are looking groomed and styled it will send the message that you will attend to the same level of detail with them in business. If you are running late, forgot your pen and neglected to press your shirt it will alert your prospective client to Google someone else who might care a bit more than you do.

A recent client gave me a gift of awareness this year. She very clearly communicated that she has ‘too much stuff’ in the wardrobe and was feeling quite overwhelmed about why she had made some purchases. This got me to thinking about why on earth this happens because over the past eight years I have discovered that most of us are wearing about 20 per cent of our wardrobe. We wear that 20 per cent over and over again. Why? Because it works, that’s why. So what’s happening with the other 80? And how much of your hard earned cash is sitting there not earning its rent in your wardrobe? Dare you to do the math on that!

Anyway, I reckon we evolve as style queens and kings for our business and personal lives. I see just as many women who are successful in their business attire and have no idea how to dress for a hot date. The biggest wardrobe issue for men and women is to discover how to do ‘smart casual’ well. They can present well for business and do the ‘real’ casual thing at home on the weekend but they lack the knack of the smart or business casual for dinner with friends, a work conference or casual Friday.

All this lead to the development of the ‘conscious styling evolution model’. Here’s how the model works. Start at the bottom in ‘trapped’ and move your way up:



Can you see where you are? Are you feeling uncomfortable or are you in sheer delight because you recognise that you have already reached the freedom zone? Is your current wardrobe in alignment with the goals you have set for yourself for 2011? If not, now is a very good time to take stock and re-assess the action you need to take to step up a level.

Most people are hovering in Discovery and some have found their way into Overwhelm where they are absolutely and utterly confused. The goal is to move you into the Freedom zone and this can be achieved in a relatively short pain free period of time. Oh you will experience a little discomfort as you become conscious of how much you have been sabotaging yourself, but this will pass very quickly as you journey on to the freedom zone.

Jane has recently completed a wardrobe session. Her last session was a few years ago and the purchases made were great for where she was at then. She is now in a senior position for a training company and about to take on a role where she will have quite a public profile. Her life has changed and the wardrobe is no longer reflective of who she is. Jane admitted that she just kept going back to the same shop because it was ‘easy’. I get it! The thing is that we evolve as human beings and our needs change. Keeping a current and fresh image matters. It matters quite a lot.

I built a list for Jane. Some of what she had in that wardrobe is still quite good. Some of it just had to be retired. She got busy with life and just kept going back to the same store to buy more of the same stuff she was buying before. Not a bad idea initially. It’s easy isn’t it? No need to think too much or put in the legwork to find the pieces to compliment the wardrobe more effectively and make the other pieces work a bit harder.

Now you might be thinking, seriously how could she not have got that handled on her own? Easy, most of us are just too darn close to our own stuff. Hence the reason I hire an image professional to check out my wardrobe each year in line with my goals of who I want my clients to be and where I see my business heading. Someone else always sees the stuff that you don’t. Even better when you hire a professional to get this stuff handled for you. Besides that, you can probably claim it as a tax deduction depending on your work.

Where is Jane at now? I set her up with the right boutiques to bridge the gaps for exactly the pieces she was missing in her wardrobe. I gave the boutique owners the heads up on what Jane needed and then I checked in to see that she was happy. She knows where to go now for the perfect pair of jeans and a summer sandal that will fit with her lifestyle. Her hair colour has just been changed to a deeper shade and she has refreshed her make up with the Image Quest make up stylist.

In a nutshell, Jane feels great. She was fine before, but she has stepped up a level now and her confidence has soared. She got really clear that a wardrobe refresh needs to be an annual event and has asked me to diarise to call her to rebook at the end of 2011. Too much money wasted on stuff that was not serving her as she progressed professionally. Any of this sounding familiar? How can you step yourself up a level as we head beyond the Autumn/Winter season?

We know it will make a BIG difference to who you are being in 2011.

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