Personal style is very - well, personal! And that's exactly how I believe it should be. Yet in truth your personal brand and image can say a lot about you - especially in the workplace. As well as, most importantly, have an impact on how you feel about yourself. Which is why I was intrigued to learn more when a very kind invitation popped into my inbox a few weeks ago.
Now I have to say ahead of the consultation at Katy's home studio in Thame, Oxfordshire I was quite nervous. Picturing a room full of mirrors pointing at every angle and having to wiggle myself in and out of different clothing at the mercy of someone I'd never met before. Not my idea of fun!
I needn't have worried though as that wasn't the deal at all - in fact I didn't have to change clothes once, nor did I have to really spend a whole lot of time looking in the mirror. Instead it was very much about learning what works for me and my body shape, which colours are most suitable, as well as what types of accessories to wear and much, much more.
You begin the session by answering a series of multiple choice questions designed to bring out your own style personality. Investigating things like how you like to wear colour, what kind of clothes are in your work versus casual wardrobe, what type of hairstyle do you prefer for example.
Answering these helps to pinpoint in a bit more detail where your style lies - be it natural, classic, romantic, creative and so on. Helping you to see why you choose certain types of clothes and why they work for you. Examples of celebrities with similar taste assist you in understanding what your style personality means and what kind of looks fit within that - a helpful way to visualise the kind of image you have. It may actually be a combination of more than one. In fact I think mine was a mixture of three but it was incredibly accurate when I think about what I wear on a daily basis and what I have sitting in my wardrobe.
Once this has been decided you then work through a style workbook together as you discuss key attributes like scale and height, colour blocking, proportions and types of clothes and clothing shapes that will work for you and your body shape. Katy works as part of the Colour Me Beautiful image consultancy who provide the workbooks and some of the fabrics and tools that she uses to help explain your colouring and style.
Colour has such a strong affect on your image, how it makes you look and feel as well as what it portrays to others. I spent a fair bit of time exploring this with Katy in more detail as it truly is quite fascinating just how much a certain colour can do (or not do) for you.
Part of the consultation involves working out the right colours for you by holding up different samples to see which ones suit you best. It's not necessarily that certain colours aren't ever going to look good on you, more that particular colours will enhance you better than others.
This is quickly demonstrated by holding fabrics up to your face in the mirror. Instantly it's clear that in some cases all you can see is the colour because it's too dominant, yet other colours work with you - you can see yourself and not just the overpowering hue of the fabric.
The psychology of colour is equally interesting.
At the furthest ends of the colour spectrum, black and white, will tend to offer up more feelings of authority. Hence the black and white uniforms of our police force and why it's often advised that you pick black to wear when interviewing for a management position.
Mid-tone colours, with less contrast, make you appear more approachable. Certain blues will fall into this category which is why you will often find blue in the uniforms of medical staff, nurses, social workers etc. If you want to ace an interview choose blues, especially navy as this reportedly inspires confidence, credibility and trustworthiness. However if interviewing for a more creative position you may want to avoid this colour as you could come across a little too conservative!
You may have heard that you should never wear orange to an interview? Well that's kind of true. In a recent survey over 25% of employers stated that orange made them feel the candidate was unprofessional. Orange is quite a flamboyant and creative colour but it doesn't necessarily direct a prospective employer to find you suitable for a professional and organised role in the workplace so it might be best left for your weekend wardrobe and not your working one.
Intrigued to learn more about the role colour plays when interviewing for a job? Read this article for a neat summary of exactly what does and doesn't work according to employers:
Why You Should Never Wear Orange To An Interview - Fast Company
So if you're interested in learning a little bit more about what works for you in the style stakes. If you'd love to know which styles, shapes and colours will bring out the best in you then I can't recommend a session with Katy enough.
One of the best things to come out of the session for me is that since getting home and having a little reshuffle of my wardrobe with what I learned in mind (and I don't mean chucking everything out but more making the most out of what you have) I've honestly found getting up each day and getting dressed so much easier.
You know those days when you just can't find anything to wear, when nothing fits, nothing matches. Well the advice Katy gives helps to start to eliminate that feeling. Enabling you to get an outfit together fast and get out of the door feeling your best without all of the aggravation that getting dressed for the day might usually bring!
I was invited along to take part in a complimentary session with Katy. However all opinions are 100% my own and if I hadn't of enjoyed the experience I wouldn't be sharing it with you today.