July 27, 2012

Styling it Forward

When I first reached out to my stylist, I admitted to her that I had absolutely no idea how to dress casually.  I had adopted the philosophy that once you find an outfit that works for you, you copy it and wear it every way possible. That "uniform" consisted of dark wash denim, a white oxford, and a black blazer. For work, that meant some sort of a suit (i.e. anything with a blazer). For stage, I hauled out the diva gowns. But for play ... wait, what?

I tried cargo pants, double-knit v-neck tops and platform flip-flops. I tried workout clothes. I resorted to a variation on my pajamas. That's when I finally realized, I needed help because I did not understand. When I was "on," I had an idea of what worked - and felt very different about myself in a positive way. But when it was time to be "casual," "out and about," or "everyday Jenn," I hadn't a clue. To make matters worse, what I did choose was the exact opposite of what looked flattering on my (very) hourglass shape. Non-tailored, slouchy, double knit, cropped cargo does not a flattering look make on this lady! So I hid in my house in the middle of the desert.

For a series of gigs I had on the East Coast during the summer of 2008 (which would ultimately lead to our move back to New York), I worked up the nerve to actually ask for the help. (Remember, I'm a Virgo. We don't do that well!) My girlfriend Amy happily came to my aid. She explained to me the basic fundamentals of dressing for my shape, the staples I needed in my closet, and the danger zone of pieces that just were not going to work on my body. She talked me through as we went rack-by-rack while she picked out looks that worked for my body. And good heavens did I buck her! "You want me to wear that?" "Uhhhhhhh ... I have to belt this?" "I can't just wear that with a blazer?" "Aren't dresses just for being dressy?" Those were some of my more common responses. 

However, I instinctively trusted her. And I had good reason - she had the know-how, the experience, and was getting ready for her own move to New York to continue her career in fashion. So, I listened. I stepped outside my comfort zone ... and in all truth, the process really did change my life.

I would like to believe in my very new age, self-help way that it shouldn't matter what we wear. We should just be these incredible spiritual beings having a human experience, and all of the love & light that comes from that way of being is enough.

Maybe in a perfect world.

However, changing what I put on my body back in 2008 helped me put the bat down. I no longer felt dumpy in my clothing, even though at the time I was struggling with my weight. I distinctly remember Amy saying to me:
"Jenn Newman. I can dress you at any size. Stop worrying about that. Your shape is your shape, and I will put you in clothing that looks amazing on you no matter what." 
That was the turning point.

4-1/2 years later, a cross-country move, life-changing circumstances, and everything in between, that sassy strawberry blonde girl I met years ago while working together at Coach has dressed me for all of it. When I landed back in the City in January 2009, I knew I could get up every morning and go get 'em because I wasn't worried about how I looked. Which translated to feeling great. Which translated to wanting to take even better care of myself. Which translated to eating well, lessening the need to "cover myself up" with too much makeup and over-sized clothing. I actually discovered something: my true self is worth taking care of on the outside, too!

Over the last several weeks, we (Amy, my photographer & I) have given you a glimpse of how Amy continues to style me. My hope is that even just one lady can put the bat down, stop hating her body type, or take the time to invest in learning how to dress for her true self. This curvy mama will tell you: just be you - but - why not be the best version of yourself?! It will mean some changes, yes. It will mean some cost. And it will mean having someone help you. But the end result, I promise, you will actually feel.

After all ... you are worth it!

xx JN

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