“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are” Anais Nin
This quote rang very true for me this week. After many lockdowns in Victoria, I finally managed to progress with a booking to see Professional Styling expert Samantha La Porte from Style Union StyleUnion.com.au some time back. While I was reluctant to move forward with it, given like many I am in recovery mode, my initial commitment to the stylist and a desire to support small businesses kicked in. I found the courage to invest some energy and time in pursuing an uncomfortable area for me being fashion.
How profound an experience it was to have someone who is an expert in their field, feed back to me what my image says about my professional image. To challenge me on how I dress and why, and to provide other fashion perspectives that may be more relevant for me where I am at in my career right now. So many aspects of our lives are driven by habit, some conscious some unconscious. For me fashion has been one of those. While I like to look neat and professional, I have a somewhat utilitarian view to clothing. Since being a small child, I have had a love of boots and clothing with pockets!
On the career front I have been privileged to have worked successfully for many years as a coach helping my clients develop their personal brand from an employment perspective, capturing their career stories, their unique value proposition, their career purpose, and goals. My work with clients is often at an intellectual and emotional level. Not so much on a physical image level.
It was a powerful experience to be on the other end as a client going through effectively an image and emotional coaching experience. To learn so much about how I approach my clothing choices based on largely unconscious influences and behaviours from my past. While some have served me well, others not so greatly.
The value of having someone who is an expert in their field, provide an honest and insightful perspective of how they see me visually and the messages this sends to them about my personal brand was confronting. It was uncomfortable however also hugely useful, to help me move out of my comfort zone and challenge some of my thoughts about my image and brand.
I will admit I felt very vulnerable through the experience, and it also seemed somewhat decadent to be spending money on such a service. However, I could also see what a worthwhile time and financial investment I was making in myself and my career. As someone more analytical and less visual I had glossed over this aspect of personal branding to my own detriment for too long! Not since my twenties have I dedicated such time to the pursuit of fashion and image. I now have a style summary and know what to look for when I do go shopping, which will ultimately save me time and money. I have cleared out the clothes and shoes no longer serving me, or my brand (with the help of my stylist doing a wardrobe consult) and I do overall feel clearer and more positive about my personal brand going into 2022.
Having had the professional styling experience with Samantha, I do honestly feel better about myself and my visual image. There is a renewed positivity towards clothing, and I am looking forward to taking on the advice and applying it more frequently to my clothing choices and checking in more frequently with how others see and experience my brand on a visual level, not just a technical and emotional level.