In the world of celebrity, there are two stages that radically define the degree of super-stardom. The first stage, BS (before stylist), sees the celebrity clambering with other c-listers for a spot on page 15. The second stage, AS (after stylist), guarantees the celebrity magazine covers, make-up endorsements and movie contracts. Don’t believe that stylists make a difference? Just ask Katie Holmes, fashion icon and Hollywood star. Now that she has a stylist. Before then she was just that plain chick from Dawson’s Creek.
Personal stylists work fashion miracles. In a short period of time, they can put together a wardrobe of items that perfectly suit your shape and colouring, and they can even supply you with a signature look. And it’s during pregnancy and motherhood, when a woman’s body and lifestyle change, that the guidance of a stylist can really come in handy. Of course, normally the services of a personal stylist are out of the financial reach of the average woman – but not today. Sarah Donges, personal stylist and director of The Beauty Tutor, givesKid Magazine readers a lesson in personal style.
Contrary to popular belief, Donges believes that most women aren’t born with a style gene. “Style is definitely something can be learnt,” she says. “It’s about understanding what works best for you and changing habits. The lessons women learn after spending time with a stylist she can carry with her for the rest of her life.”
Developing style, says Donges, is often about abandoning pre-conceived ideas about what looks good. “A woman might think that she looks great in yellow, for example,” says Donges. “Because years ago someone told her that, but really, they might have been commenting on how well she looked at the time or what she was wearing, and not actually about the colour.”
HOW TO DEVELOP YOUR SIGNATURE STYLE
STEP 1: CONSIDER YOUR LIFESTYLE
It’s important to be very clear about what you will be doing in your new, stylish clothes, says Donges. Do you work in an office? Do you lead an active, outdoors lifestyle? Or do you attend a lot of stylish, after-five events? Your clothes need to reflect your lifestyle – being uncomfortable or inappropriately dressed is not chic.
STEP 2: DETERMINE YOUR WARDROBE PREFERENCE
“Most women actually do know what they like,” explains Donges. “So it’s just a case of narrowing down the choices. You might like lace, but not like sequins; you might like skirts, but not dresses. You might like green, but not like blue because it reminds you of your school uniform. I had one client who liked scooped necks but hated v-necks. So I said, right, from now on, it’s round necks only.”
STEP 3: DETOX YOUR WARDROBE
“The aim is to have a wardrobe filled with clothes that all mix and match, that look good on you, feel great on and you like,” says Donges. And that means detoxing the wardrobe of all those other pieces that just aren’t working.
There are many reasons why our wardrobes become dysfunctional – hoarding being the most common. “You might have items in your wardrobe you have been waiting to fit back into. There is nothing sadder than looking in your wardrobe at items that don’t fit. Move them out! You might also hold on to an item because it’s a label or you bought it on an overseas trip or it was a gift. It’s fine to keep these clothes but you need to store excess items in a storage box away from your functioning wardrobe.
“A common problem is when clothes haven’t changed with your life. You might keep items you no longer need to wear, like corporate suits when you are a stay at home mum. “Before we begin the wardrobe detox, we do a body shape and colour analysis and have a chat about your personality and lifestyle,” says Donges. “Then we get started on sorting out your wardrobe. We work out what looks good, what doesn’t, where the gaps are and how we are going to fill those gaps. At the end everything in your wardrobe suits you, is wearable and goes with everything else. “We then compile a shopping list of other items you may need to bring it all together.”
HOW TO BUILD A STYLISH PREGNANCY WARDROBE
According to Sarah Donges, there are two big style mistakes women make during pregnancy: “Women think they have to wear black and they think they have to raid their partner’s wardrobe,” she laughs. It’s the mind-set of covering up, she explains, that leads women to disguise their changing shape with the more forgiving black and with oversized t-shirts and shirts. Building a stylish pregnancy wardrobe, she explains, doesn’t need to be expensive: all you need is to know the basics – and a little secret.
STEP ONE: THE BASICS
“The best place to start is to buy the staples of the wardrobe, and you can build from there,” says Donges.
- A great pair of jeans: “Jeans don’t need to be expensive,” says Donges. “But they need to be comfortable and suit your body shape.” Donges recommends taking the time to try on different styles in different stores, and not being fooled into thinking paying more means looking better.
- The basic trouser: Like jeans, the pregnant woman should have a standard pair of trousers that can be dressed up or down. Don’t look for funky styles or details and adornment – these trousers should be a blank canvas.
- The empire line: Every pregnant woman knows the joy of the empire line, the cut of dress or top with a band just below the breast, and Donges is a big fan. “Traditionally, maternity dresses or tops are cut in an A-line or are like sacks,” she says. “Empire line dresses, though, can be quite tailored.”
STEP TWO: ADD STYLE!
“Once you have the basic wardrobe,” says Donges. “Spend your money on accessories!” Scarves, necklaces, chunky bangles should all be on your shopping list. “You can wear the same outfit day after day and, trust me, no one will notice – they will be too busy looking at your fabulous headscarf!”
By Margaret Ambrose
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