You ask me: Why all these posts on “pretty” and style from a psychologist?
I say: I’ve written before about my own journey from academia into equally valuing the psychology of looking fabulous on the outside as well. Spring gives us incentive to renew and present our best. As a psychologist, I have been blessed to help many people on “inside” transformations. With life changes come a desire to renew the outside, to reflect new ways of seeing oneself and new confidence, that “inner glow” which I defined in my last post.
I believe in teamwork and integral to my personal support team is my own stylist, Heather Harewood. We recently had a conversation on style, in part because its Spring and in part inspired by my favorite red carpet looks from the recent 2012 Metropolitan Museum Costume Institute Gala in New York, “The East Coast Oscars.” The exhibit is called “Impossible Conversations” between a designer everyone knows, Miuccia Prada and the famous Elsa Schiaparelli from the 1930’s, together revealing that good style can be timeless, fun and mood elevating!
Dr. Renee: Women love specialists and having stylists for hair and nails, trainers for bodies and mechanics for their cars…yet, many don’t even think about working with a stylist. Look at all these women on the red carpet with their designers/stylists as escorts, such as Chanel Iman and Tom Ford! Why should all women think about a stylist as part of their team?
Heather: A stylist is your personal expert on all things fresh and fashionable – she or he offers “head to toe” suggestions and guidance in color, style and accessorizing that are best suited for you. Whether it be just a few fashion or image adjustments, special event preparations, such as for a red carpet gala or a complete wardrobe revamping – a stylist is your “go to” person for dressing and image support.
Dr. Renee: Look at one of my favorite celebrity moms, Gisele Bundchen, here on the red carpet, she is just beaming! What is the relationship of style confidence to mood?
Heather: I believe the image and style we present reflect who we are at the heart – wearing a great outfit in our most complimentary colors and style makes a statement about who we are before we say a single word. People respond with aspirational stares, favorable comments (often unsolicited) and even with questions on where we shopped. Positive energy like that feeds your spirit and has “mood altering” implications. Regardless of how you may have felt prior, how could you not feel a boost to your confidence and self perception?
The more confident you continue to feel, the more confidently you dress – giving yourself permission to rock styles that you never thought you would (but you always wanted to.) I always say, I strive to service clients not just for who they are, but also for who they aspire to be.
Dr. Renee: Look at what Joan Smalls wore, a long sleeve mini in the midst of a sea of skin revealing, floor length ballgowns on the red carpet. She looks so comfortable and confident! What are the most common style misconceptions or rules that result in women or men looking or feeling less than optimal?
Heather: I believe we get stuck in ” RULES. ” So often, I hear clients say: “I never wear skirts” or “I don’t do red”, “People my shape should not wear capris” or a myriad of other rules that have invaded our minds, closets and our fitting rooms. With so many rules, we can find ourselves in the fashion rut of wearing the same styles all the time – How unexciting? It is imperative that we make style or fashion choices that are specfically suited for each us based on our body type, coloring, fit challenges and fashion goals – this is where partnership with a stylist is key.
Dr. Renee: Transformation. When we think of dramatic red-carpet change, we think Jennifer Hudson. What is the most dramatic change you’ve seen with a woman who receives styling?
Heather: I have been truly blessed to work with a young lady I will call “Tina.” Her husband “Steve” contacted me almost in tears because he wanted to do something special for her now that she made it through a series challenging medical complications. “Tina” is a nurse and mother and like many of us, invested all of herself in tending to the needs others more than her own. Over the prior year, she had lost over 100 pounds, was depressed and still dressing like the overweight person she had been. Tina met with me wearing an outfit that was too large and in a color that caused the appearance of dark shadows under her eyes. Within the first 15 minutes of sampling appropriate colors and styles, I could actually feel the “weight” lifting off of “Tina” as she viewed herself in the 3-way mirror. We were ready to begin our journey with a professional bra fitting (she had never had one), moved to work wear and on to weekend “play” wear. We covered a wardrobe of shoes and accessories and topped off the evening with a full blown cosmetic makeover. “Tina” learned how to interchange her clothing as we pulled together different looks. Now when she shops, we need only add in pieces (in the correct sizes) that compliment what she already owns. The transformation was incredible and has truly been my privilege to style her.
Dr. Renee: The impact of a look like January Jones’s yellow Atelier Versace dress can have a woman so inspired, she wants to hire a stylist immediately! how can can people start to find a stylist that will be a good match for them, what do you recommend?
Heather: First determine what your goals are in pursuing a stylist. What is it you hope a stylist will do for you?
Most major department stores or specilaty stores such as Nordstrom have a Personal Stylist Service – the service is typically complimentary and there is no obligation. Contact your favorite store at their website to request to speak with or to be contacted by a personal stylist. Expect that the stylist will ask questions to learn about you and your style. Be encouraged to ask your own questions that will help you to determine that the stylist you choose is the best fit for your wardrobing goals – it’s okay to be selective if you do not feel “chemistry” with the first person you speak with.
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