I’ve realised lately that shopping anxiety has recently become a bit of a thing for me. But what started out as a joke phrase at first, had now somehow turned into an actual reality.
For many years I had always felt that I was quite a fashion forward lady. My style was unique to me, and pretty much classic, yet on trend for the most part. But after pregnancy, child birth, and breast feeding, my body (like most women’s) was just never the same – and I suddenly felt very uncomfortable in my own skin.
I started to hide it away, and dress in a way that I almost didn’t get noticed. My style was just becoming boring and blah. But that’s not to say that I was getting around as a complete dag in my T-shirt and trackies… Far from it. But try as I might, I certainly was not pulling off what you might call “fashionista mum” style over the last couple of years.
What I realised when I was becoming more and more body conscious, is that I stopped really shopping for me – and instead allowed my 5 year old to be the stylish one. I was unconsciously hiding behind my handsome hubby and gorgeous girl. Boring mum was always letting them both steal the show; anything to take the attention off me I guess. Behind this smoke screen I had created with my family, I just became content with rotating a bunch of safe and old faithful outfits, that really didn’t show me off at all.
I decided that I needed to start dressing for me again, but I had no idea of where to start. I mean, for most women, the thought of going on a shopping spree for a new wardrobe sounds like bliss… But for me, the anxiety was raising and it was starting to feel like torture. I didn’t know what I needed, where to go, or what I was even looking for. It was like I was totally out of touch with shopping now – since I had been unconsciously avoiding it for a good 5 years or so. My husband was offering to come with me, but that was just adding to the pressure I was feeling even more for some reason. I felt that I needed to enlist the help of an expert – a personal stylist.
My husband was sceptical at first.
“Why would you need someone else to tell you what to wear?”
And yeah, I totally get that comment. Why should I? Well, over the years I have always followed a number of different personal stylists and fashion bloggers on social media – always admiring their little tips and tricks, whether it be their flat lays, their OOTD’s , their inspo shots, or their polyvore pull together’s – and then trying to piece together their looks from what I had inside my own wardrobe. But this felt different.
It was hard to admit that over the years I had lost a little of my own sense of identity, and that I needed help to rediscover my own personality in the way I present myself – and let it shine on through.
I wasn’t the 28 year old club kid / festival darling / urban trendy person any more… And what did that even mean? Urban, boho, utilitarian, vintage? Who am I? That was a decade ago, and my lifestyle is way different now. I’m 38, and a wife and mum – but I don’t want to be boring or frumpy. I don’t want to now be just a wallflower in the back ground. I may not be out clubbing and hitting the coolest parties so much any more, but I still want to look good – and I want my image to be the best it can be.
So my solution to this part of my problem as I saw it, was to get some expert tips from a personal stylist. But with the level of anxiety that I was facing, it felt too overwhelming for me at this stage to jump in the deep end for the one-on-one treatment. Instead, I managed to find a very insightful lady, who had put together a down-right genius service. A personal styling workshop.
Bernadette Payne from That’s My Style, by Bernadette is a personal stylist that I had been following for quite a while now, and I just gravitated to her instantly. Her Invest In You – Dress With Confidence Style Workshop hit the nail on the head for me. It was a small group of women meeting in a stylish little patisserie, after hours. Where we could all sit down in a very un-intimidating environment, and learn a little more about ourselves, and how to make ourselves feel even better.
As we each told a little bit about our backgrounds and the secrets behind why we were there, I realised that we were all feeling the same way. We were all feeling insecure within ourselves, yet we were all entirely fabulous with who we were, and with what we had all achieved in our lives. We just didn’t know how to flaunt that fabulousness.
With a little bit of fashion psychological testing applied to us by Bernadette, we were then able to really hone in on what our deep down personal style actually was. We were then taught to browse the magazines and fashion pages, be able to identify “our look”, and then how we could emulate that look from key pieces, yet still make it our own. And that was one of the key points that I have taken home from the workshop:
Your style is your own interpretation. You might admire someone, and the way they dress; so you should take elements of that, but then make it more you.
I also learned that we are unconsciously judged by people within just 2 seconds of meeting them. So therefore, your body is a canvas, and you, yourself – are a brand. Your style represents your lifestyle in the here and now. Who do you want to be? And how do you want to portray yourself?
Bernadette went on to explain that your wardrobe needs to be versatile. You need to be ready for anything and everything, and it really shouldn’t take you very long at all to be able to put an outfit all together. This taught me that I don’t necessarily need a big wardrobe, but instead a quality wardrobe of key pieces that fit really well. I can then let my own individuality shine through with little tweaks, variations, and accessories. There is no point in holding onto a designer dress that looked great on the model, but does not suit my shape at all, (actually it accentuates my worst features), but I still hold on to it because one day it might look good….. Sorry honey, it’s not gonna happen.
So off I went with all of this brand new advice in my head, and attended to my own wardrobe cleanse, where I was instructed to try on absolutely everything in my wardrobe – no exceptions. And as I went along, I was always remembering these key snippets given to me by Bernadette:
- Where will you wear it?
- Where else will you wear it?
- What will you wear it with?
- And what else can you wear it with?
And finally, if it doesn’t fit you absolutely perfectly, then it’s got to go…. The same goes for anything with holes in it, pilling, stains or discolouration – because you’re too good for that!
The result after an entire day spent trying clothes on and off, was a HUGE pile of unwanted items on my bed – and now a nice, ordered, easy to find, calming & zen wardrobe. I even found some fantastic little quirky pieces that I even forgot that I had – and are just perfect for bringing out my extra unique style working with what I now have left.
And by the weekend, I had made myself a list of key pieces that I needed to now buy to complete my perfect capsule wardrobe. So armed with my list – and my new found fashion confidence (courtesy of Bernadette), I marched straight into Bondi Junction and tackled the big boys – Topshop & Zara.
Suffice it to say, I was pretty chuffed with that effort.
And to top it off, I can now get dressed wearing a stylish outfit that I feel great in, that’s a little bit different everyday, without stress – and in pretty much under 5 mins flat. Which is exactly what Bernadette can do too!
I cannot recommend this experience highly enough. The difference in my wardrobe’s functionality, and my shopping needs have changed dramatically – now that I’ve finally realised what I am shopping for. So if you have a wardrobe full of clothes, but never anything to actually wear, then get in touch with Bernadette Payne, or go along to one of her eye opening styling workshops. You will be truly surprised with what you will get out of it!
Bernadette Payne is a personal fashion stylist, blogger, wife, and mother of three – with over 20 years experience buying and manufacturing fashion lines for some of Australia’s leading fashion retailers. After travelling the fashion world for many years, she now brings this knowledge home giving direct advice to suit her clients here in the Australian market; finding the best styles for every body shape, inspiring the ultimate confidence in all she works with.
Offering a range of services from wardrobe makeovers, personal shopping, and style workshops, you can make a connection with Bernadette via her website, or follow her on social media for her expert tips and every day styling inspo via the That’s My Style Facebook page, and Instagram.
Words by Danielle Tinkler.
Photo credit: Deposit Photos.