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Self-reinvention requires courage, but 97 year old fashion icon Iris Apfel is a perfect example that you’re never too old to look fabulous. So, how do we go about redesigning our personal style?
Tracey De Michele is a busy woman, a young-grandmother and a business owner. One thing bothered her though – she never liked seeing herself in photos.
“I was 52-years-old, I looked like I was 65. I didn’t like my clothes. I was really uncomfortable in my own body and I made a big effort to lose some weight and decided when my children had all left home that it was now time to spend some time on myself.”
She decided to try something out of the ordinary – a wardrobe makeover with a personal stylist to redesign her style, it wasn’t an easy decision though.
“I was terrified. I felt overwhelmed. I didn't want someone to come into my cupboard. It’s very personal.”
Her personal stylist Vesna Cavic acknowledges that the process of self-reinvention often requires courage.
"It’s good to become conscious that this journey of unleashing your personal style takes and requires, you know, courage.”
“This is sort of like stepping out of your comfort zone, you know, getting to know yourself in terms of your body shape, accepting who you are, trying new brand could be quite an intimidating area to go. It’s good to become conscious that this journey of unleashing your personal style takes and requires, you know, courage.”
It’s been two years since De Michele’s makeover and she’s never looked back and in fact, she now considers herself a rather different person.
"It helps with everyday life and I now have a new lease on life, fun, friendship."
“It helps with your relationship. It helps with everyday life and I now have a new lease on life, fun, friendship. It all comes from the internal feeling of being confident and it’s not always worrying about a $300 skirt or a $500 skirt, you can do a $20 op shop skirt and rock it and look amazing but just know how to wear it and when to wear it.”
Her stylist Vesna Cavic believes finding one’s style isn’t about blindly following fashion trends as everyone is unique.
“So, personal style is about the individual. It’s about you as a unique person. So, that's why I refer to personal style as a self-discovery journey.”
She says this process involves five pillars.
Step one is knowing your own body shape to identify what type of fabric and neckline fit you best.
"Then, the other pillar will be colours. Understanding the colours will make you look vibrant, really charged, make you feel good about you.”
The third aspect delves into your clothing personality.
“So, you may have a more classic elegant type of personality or you may have a bohemian vintage. Once you know your personality, you then know where shops to go.”
The fourth essential element is a deep dive into your closet.
“Understanding how to build a wardrobe that serves you, your lifestyle, your state in your life, who you are, and how to build it so you don't have to keep buying more and more and more.”
The final step is developing your skill in mixing and matching. Cavic says learning how to dress is like learning a new language. The more you put into it, the more you get out of it.
"I want to try something different, the way that I have been dressing hasn’t been fulfilling."
“We will have to leave that comfort zone and learn something new, try something new, play with different combinations. So, I think becoming mindful about that moment of ‘Yes! I want to feel better. I want to look better. I know that I have been doing things in a certain way but you know this is it, I want to try something different, the way that I have been dressing hasn’t been fulfilling. I want to look and feel different. I need to leave this comfort zone and try new things.’”
These days, with higher divorce rates amongst mature aged men and encouragement from their spouse and children, image consultant Dan Thomas is noticing that men are wanting to refresh their looks just as much as women.
A good place to start is perhaps by letting go of the fashion style you grew up with.
"They definitely want to find a happy medium between how they’re likely wearing their clothing at the moment which is very baggy and loose fitting"
“Clothing that's quite loose, not very close fitting to their bodies. The current style and the way that your clothing fits is much more tapered and closer fitting to the body so with more mature aged men, whilst they certainly don't want to wear very tight fitting clothing, but they definitely want to find a happy medium between how they’re likely wearing their clothing at the moment which is very baggy and loose fitting.”
With nearly two-thirds of Australian adults overweight or obese, if you’re conscious of your body image, Thomas suggests that you focus on dressing well rather than your physical changes as you navigate your new style.
“Because you can be in great shape but dress really poorly and nobody even really knows that you have a good body underneath those clothes, and, conversely, you can dress very smartly in good fitting clothing, which can often times make you appear even leaner or a better body shape than you actually have.”
Encouraged by her own transformation, Tracey De Michele used what she learnt from her stylist to renew her husband’s wardrobe – the first items to discard were clothes he’d worn for over 30 years.
“We went through and we spent time together and it was a really good experience and fun, and now when I see my husband get dressed up I get a certain pride now when I see him get dressed up cos I reckon he looks really good.”
Not everyone can afford a personal stylist but you can certainly find tips from fashion blogs, Pinterest and YouTube. Cavic suggests looking no further than your own wardrobe as the first step.
After all, only 20 per cent of the clothes in an average person’s wardrobe are actually worn regularly. Checking your own wardrobe first helps to identify what you need to buy.
This enables you to shop with purpose rather than randomly purchasing on-sale items that don’t go with anything.
“De-cluttering your wardrobe will be the main thing and it’s a must because you’re not going to get anywhere else if you don't do this step. The idea is that you want to have less in your wardrobe because the less we have, the more space we have. That physical space goes into our head so that gives us a sense of freedom, peace, calm, and the more creative we become.”
At the end of the day, your willingness determines the extent of your personal transformation.
"Take some actions because the journey ahead is very rewarding.”
“How willing, how prepared you are to invest in yourself? Like, do you feel you deserve this? Do you feel that you can get there? Of course you are, of course you can build your confidence but it’s up to you. Take some actions because the journey ahead is very rewarding.”