My Personal Style Consultation

Personal style is an evolving thing, but I do think underneath our various  layers of lifestyle and role playing, we have an underlying style.

There will be quite a bit about me in this blog, because you can't talk about a person's style without talking about the person, or thinking about what and who they are - at the current stage of life.   So this post is a bit long winded and wordy.  Skim through or come back another day if you like, when I have a sewing post and some pictures up:)

I have never really dressed in a way that says "this is me".  I've dressed for all the things life has called me to do - uniforms for work, student garb for study, cheap blacks for theatre, old clothes for renovations and wearing at home while paying off my mortgage.  Clothes were well down my list of priorities - I was too busy becoming educated and financially a little secure (if there is any such thing). I was always Practical Pollyanna in my approach to the finer things of life!!

I have always dressed appropriately when called upon and do have the basic uniform every well dressed woman should have.

And I now have a wardrobe full of casual clothes from my let's get re-acquainted with sewing efforts of the last 16 months or so.  - these were missing from my wardrobe.

I also have a problem with my new role.  The trigger for me booking this consult was that the head of the new little hospital where we have a lease on one of the consulting suites,  came in one day to sort out a problem with the door  key.  He saw me  doing accounts.  Oh, he said, you do the accounts.  Only a passing look, but he  looked a little relieved, he now had me pegged as "office girl". He knows what I do and who I am!!!


I am not the office girl, I am helping and supporting my husband who is still struggling with health issues and working in  a very demanding profession.  (IN THIS CONTEXT I HELP HIM WITH ACCOUNTS AND PATIENT BILLS. AND MANY OTHER THINGS.   I DON'T "DO THE ACCOUNTS". )

Compare this to what DH's colleague said when he met me:

"You must be.....  I have heard all about you...(bits and pieces of small talk) are the backbone, I think". ( and he has known DH for years, and also knows the demands of the profession).

And this, from our Accountant's system's manager and bookkeeping wizard:

"People will see you just as the office help, you are much more than that".

And he also said this last year after things were under control:

" You have been such a pleasure to work with. A full professional, your experience and education shows.  You just came in with no knowledge of this system and sorted things out".  (yes, well, I did keep my feelings to myself and tried to behave well!!!).


Recently, I was reading through a newsletter from Clare Maxfield.  (I subscribe to her newsletters).  She was offering, I think from memory, 8 free consultations by phone.

I thought about this, and thought that this is not really the sort of thing I do, put my hand up for something free. But I thought I have given a lot of myself in life, so maybe it is okay.

I already know what colours suit me (I'm a summer in the old system - there are many variations that have developed over the years since I trained, most of which I have kept up with - but they all work the same themes.  And I am a classic summer in any case).

I also know my body lines - I'm a straight body shape.  

Clare rang and we had a chat.  She wanted to know what my main concern was - so I told her my troubles with other peoples perceptions, and what I also had done in life.  She got the fact that people saw me as "working for my husband" instead of me choosing to help and support my husband in his work.  She said that is less than ideal for me, and we have to change some messages via appearance

We did a Discovery Session and worked out that I was a giver, but I was also very accomplished in my own right, and that I really am starting to say I want this to be seen  (Yes!!!  I was thrilled with the comment about how professional I was, and how good I was to work with!!!)
(Just an aside - my DH is an Uber Giver par excellence - we are both tarred with the same brush. We do not exude confident arrogance!!)

We discussed that I am actually accomplished in my own right and deep down  I want to be seen in this light.  We discussed various styles - and could rule out most of them straight away. 
 The Rebellious sort of style . (BIG NO).
 Creative style (NO).
The Dramatic, look at me style (NO - I might have a Drama degree, but I know what a stage is for, and what reality is!!), 
Classic style (NO, not really, have worn it to work and for most of my life, because it is safe and works).
Romantic - she suspected I had a slight bit of that (Yes).
Natural - she suspected I had a slight bit of that (Yes).
And the Elegant Style.
Guess what I felt was right??  Yes, the Elegant Style.  It does feel like me, but I have hidden it under the roles I have played to get there top the place where maybe I can start being me a little bit more, and less me playing whatever role is allocated to me.

With this style, there is a layer of refinement.  So tailored clothes, and tailored blouses, not shirts as such.
I have three key words to consider when I now shop clothes:  They are

We chose quietly powerful because in the town I currently live in, many people have quite interesting boundary problems, and I have found that if you are perceived as a bit soft or nice (which I am) you get walked over.  And I do have a quiet personal power - otherwise I would not have supported my husband through the tough patch.

We also discussed the use of colours to send messages.  To look more powerful, I must consider colours like red, teal, berrys , dark pink, all the gem colours.  So long as they are in my colour palette.
 We both agreed this would take time to achieve. I agree!   Strangely, the next day when I was dressing for work, I had to resort to my work clothes, which are of course not this style.  Yes, I looked neat and work like, but I knew it wasn't me.  It never had been. These clothes were literally purchased just for work, not to reflect me.

The same applies to most other clothes in my wardrobe.  They are all made or purchased with a utiltarian goal - to do the job for which they were intended . Not to do the job for which they were intended and reflect me as well!

There is a difference.

It is this difference I have to work on.

It is going to take time, but now all my sewing projects must reflect my personal style, and not just be clothes made for a job or just because that is what the pattern says.  



 To think Chic, and Elegant - Refined, Tailored, Blouses not Shirts.

Always choose clothes that are  Elegant, Ladylike and Quietly Powerful.

 As I have a "Natural" side to my personality, I must also be comfortable.

Anything "Romantic" (laces, florals) in social situations only.
romance - lace, soft floral, social situations only

My Colours: 

Basics - taupe, cream, red (rose, watermelon) navy.  For trousers, skirts  and jackets

Jewel colours convey sophistication and strength (the quietly powerful component)  - burgundy, wines, teal -  the gem colours.  Grey and camel can also be used (only I can't wear camel because I am a cool toned person).

As far as the time it will take to achieve these clothing objectives, and given that Practical Pollyanna still has quite a say as my alter ego, I think I will steer a middle course for now.

The quietly powerful will be quite difficult for me to do - DH and I are both very unassuming people, and have both had to learn to stand up for ourselves!  But I think I need to approach life with that sort of clothing as you do feel more confident.  I need that sort of help from my clothes!  Especially as I am also so petite and quite "cute"  and tend to be treated that way as well.

I still have lots on my plate to do - life will have plenty of challenges over the next few years (an elderly mother, husband close to retirement, house style moving quickly towards shabby grandeur from once upon a time.  And I want to do one or two things in life that I want to do before it gets too late!

And sewing better clothes is certainly one of the things in life I want to do.

I think I will probably evolve a Eurochic form of dressing - still elegant, refined and quietly powerful, but also practical for the life I lead.  And for the shoes I have to wear ( I have problem feet, and can't wear courts or high heels except if I stand still in one spot).  Because I still have to think about my lifestyle and the place where we live- which is a regional centre in Australia, so it is not the most stylish place in the world!

And already I am thinking differently. I shall finish anything I have already cut out, review the trouser muslin as to whether this is the right pattern or timing for now, and then start again:)

That will be quite a challenge.  I really won't know where to start :) .  Plenty of ideas, but putting all this together, as well as life challenges will be quite tricky.

One small step at a time, I think!


  1. Isn't it dreadful to be assessed and pigeonholed by people? A person who supports their spouse - whether it a wife supporting a husband or the other way around you are working as a partnership, Great to see you are taking up the free sessions.

  2. Gosh Liz you sound like a wonderful person. I really hope you get the time to continue on your sewing journey to elegance , lady like and quietly powerful ! And I hope your husband is also is also taking care and putting himself first. ( I know patients are always surprised that doctors get sick which is silly but I know some also expect that we should ALWAYS be there and get irritated when we have time off )!

    1. Ha!! A doctor take care of himself - he's the last person on his list! And I know, people do get irritated when the doctor is sick and only human.

  3. More power to you!

    It sounds like sorting shapes and styles is the next step for you. Looking forward to reading about the results.

  4. Sarah Liz this is a wonderful post, so full of honesty and very insightful. The image consultant sounds like a great idea and she has certainly given you plenty to think about and ideas to work with. This is a subject dear to my heart as I have had to adapt my wardrobe to a considerable extent, several times over the 40 + years of our marriage. I became a corporate wife at a young age, and after some dreadful fashion faux pas I had to learn fast. I know what you mean about being looked upon as the assistant or the secretary or such, simply because of your personal appearance. These days we are semi-retired and I can have fun with fashion, but for many years I always had the formal gear ready, often at a moment's notice having to go to formal functions. Good jackets are essential, and while I have a reputation for loving bright colours, in fact most of my clothes are in neutrals. I add colour with camis, scarves, shoes or bag, or a bright jacket with neutrals for the rest of the outfit. No more than 2 accent colours. Never wear florals unless you are definitely 'off duty'. My colour palette is Winter, a stronger version of your summer. Like you, I usually wear flat shoes because of feet problems, but look for chic ones. Django and Juliette is my favourite shoe brand these days. Now you have the basics wardrobe sorted, we look forward to seeing your next sewing adventure, elegant and ladylike. You are a very good and quick sewist - can't wait to see what you come up with! xx

    1. Thank you Patricia - and it's lovely finding out a little more about you. Being a corporate wife is not easy - you are always "on call", so you must be pleased that there is more time for you now. Thank you for your hints and tips. I'm hoping you are on the mend.

  5. What a great read!

    I am down sometimes about how my desired style doesn't fit into my work wardrobe...and that I have to wear work clothes that bore me. I just love that you're doing this. Can't wait to see the "results".

    1. Thank you Nakisha - I should think you have to be very conservative in your work environment.

  6. you have a great slim shape like a model and you can totally rock elegant style!

  7. Quietly powerful, love that! In my opinion buying some nice accessories helps to take you from wearing clothes to wearing an outfit. A classy watch, stylish leather bag and some nice shoes will make a 10 dollar homemade dress look good, whereas you can ruin the looks of a designer dress by wearing it with old Birkenstocks and an ugly shopping bag. Because of a recent back injury I can't wear high heals all day, so I invested in some quality flats and wedges in various colours. You could play with them: why not buy jewel toned flats? Go bold! Lately, when I started taking pictures of myself for my blog I noticed how little things can make a difference in the message you're sending to the world. I'm not taking shortcuts anymore. A five minute make-up routine, 60 seconds nailpolish when I'm wearing open shoes, changing my earrings for a better match, I can do that, even on a very busy day. Did you follow the Wardrobe Architect series on the Colette blog? Food for thought! I agree with the comment above, you can totally rock elegant, chic and powerful!

    1. Thank you Marianne - lots of ideas here - I have also noticed little touches you have made to your make up - and as you say, it does make a difference. I'm lucky, I've been able to get away with very little, but I think now I am older I need to pay attention to some of this :)

  8. Bravo to you. I face some of the same challenges that you face in that I don't look like a typical manager. I am using the principles from this group of awesome sewists,23473.0.html to build a new work wardrobe. The principles of 6Pacs gives me a core wardrobe to build on and keeps me from having orphan garments.

    1. Hello Towanda - I remember one of your 6pac capsules - you made some lovely clothes. I must start planning one or two capsules.

  9. Great post. I'm glad you've found the direction you want to go in to project the image externally of what you feel internally. Good luck. I'm looking forward to seeing some of your new ideas put into practice.

  10. Really enjoyed your post. The image consultation sounds really worthwhile in terms of making you think and giving you a focus. I love the idea of thinking elegant, ladylike and quietly confident whenever choosing clothes. I look forward to seeing how you wardrobe evolves. It does all good to take time to review and re-energise our wardrobes rom time to time.

    1. Thank you Tracy - yes, it was good - You are right, we do need to stand back and take stock occasionally.

  11. What an interesting post! I also had a lot of perception issues when I was working in a professional office environment. I'm short in height with a deep voice so people always get disoriented when they had talked to me on the phone for a while but had just met me in person. I found that pant suits in strong colours helped establish my professional look, as well as a well groomed haircut, and neutral makeup. Body language makes a difference too. It's always a learning process trying to find one's own 'appropriate look' for the difference roles that we take on in life. Good luck and I hope you have fun during the process.

    1. Yes, when you are petite, you need to project a presence - and as you say, all our roles require looks that are appropriate for the person, not just the role.

  12. Great post...and wonderful to get a consultant. You are already elegant and lady like so build on that with the small steps. I don't think there has to be much to change...your choice of fabric colors are always great for you!

  13. I love the colours you have suggested for yourself, much nicer than the black on you, I think. I would love to see you in more grey and soft pretty colours like that. You have very similar colouring to my mother and she looks absolutely gorgeous in all shades of grey.

    1. I agree Carolyn - although it is hard to find fabrics or clothes if you are a RTW person in those sorts of colours sometimes.

  14. Very interesting post and thank you for sharing. It will take time and you have the basic clothes to keep you going as you work out your new wardrobe. I agree with Carolyn and enjoy the process.

  15. This is a terrific post Sarah Liz! 'Quietly Powerful' - very good. I agree completely with Remembering..OZ that you are already elegant and ladylike to build on to create the image you feel from within. I am looking forward to reading more and appreciate your sharing your own personal journey with us.

    1. Thank you Lisa - and likewise, it's nice to follow everyone's journeys, sewing or otherwise :)

  16. I enjoyed reading your post, Liz. I think that sewing definitely gives us an opportunity to make clothes that express who we are. You've reminded me that every time I sew a garment, I need to ask myself whether it expresses who I am or not.


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