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childhood-style

How early childhood shapes our self-image and style

When Scott* entered my studio for his first consultation, his personal presence was quiet and nearly invisible. In his mid thirties and single, he wore light gray, worn and baggy jeans, an oversized pale blue dress shirt, scuffed and mealy loafers…and had barely combed hair. He wore glasses that were conservative and more of a non-statement than anything else.

This was nothing like the same man I had watched perform a song in front of a large audience with a vibrant and engaging presence. I wondered, where was the disconnect?

He came to me for personal styling and identity work with the goal of improving his personal image and increasing dating prospects.

Before I met with him, I had asked him to bring 5-7 favorite pictures from art, architecture and nature. I call this exercise the Favorites Effect. This simple exercise is remarkably telling. When you describe why you like your favorites you are describing yourself.

Scott’s images were strong and alluring, bold, masculine, exotic. When he began to describe why he liked each image, the words he used were describing the man I had encountered on stage! When I helped Scott to see the connection between these images, his descriptions and his presence during the performance you could feel him begin to integrate. He was connecting with his true identity.

Next, we discovered the design signatures (line, shape, proportion, color…) that Scott shared with his favorite images. This is the second powerful dimension of the Favorites Effect. Looking at the images it was obvious, they were all dramatic, elegant and strong- a significant contrast to what he was wearing and his personal presence in my studio. These images would become design guides to help us create looks that reflected the true essence of Scott!

As we explored the reasons behind this visual disconnect, I found a link between his upbringing and his current style. As a high-energy child who tended toward the dramatic, he quickly recognized that the quiet engineering and math professor parents approved of his quiet studious older brother, and didn’t approve of him. Growing up he instinctively worked at downplaying the drama by becoming invisible. He struggled with feelings of not being OK. We changed all that.

Over the next two months we found clothes that both fit his body and connected to who he was on the inside! We made sure his jackets and shirts were finely tailored, matching Scott’s level of personal vitality and refinement…found new shoes, socks and accessories that added flair and dramatic notes to every look. For the first time, Scott’s style represented his personality and It changed his life! Scott stood up straighter, showed up greater, and within two years found a wife, and his dream job as the head of a university creative department.

Ninety percent (90%!) of my clients have had early childhood environments, relationships, and experiences that have resulted in a self-image that is not necessarily positive, and does not let the world see and experience who they “really” are. This inevitably inhibits them in other ways that they may not even be aware of.

When an individual is not visually appealing… is not well put together… does not dress with a “wow” factor, there is a reason. It could be that being thoughtfully and artfully well dressed was not honored in the family, that he or she has a difficult time finding manufactured clothing, that he or she is not visually sensitive…or it could be that there was an abusive early childhood environment. But there is ALWAYS a reason. This is where we as personal stylists come in.

I often ask the question, “On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being amazingly well affirmed to simply BE…who you were not only what you did…how effective were your primary caregivers in supporting your ‘be’-ing not just your ‘do’-ing as a child?” I have only experienced a handful of people who are above a 7 and most are in the 4 to minus 2 category. If your honest answer is on the lower end of the scale it is now up to you to ‘fill-in’ what you missed out on. I have discovered a wonderful process for guiding clients through this work with truly remarkable results like those that Scott and his new family are enjoying.

I encourage you to reflect on how your early childhood experiences, environment and relationships may have shaped your self-image. There is much to discover, and so much freedom of expression to be enjoyed and cultivated in this life. Consider having a consultation yourself or attending one of my courses to further dive into these discoveries to expand your practice as a personal stylist. So many people are living in limbo, let’s help them make the connection today and start living a fully affirmed and integrated life.

* Name changed for privacy

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The Difference

Erin_2013-circl2“What makes your training courses different than the others?” This is a great question, and one that I hear regularly in my interactions with those who are researching options for training for a career in Personal Styling / Image Consulting.

My first reply is “Great question! Good for you to do the homework. Every training program has different strengths and approaches. It’s important to know which one resonates the most with you.”

Next, I have to say. “Carla Mathis.”

Our courses are based upon a lifetime of experience and practice by this Industry Pioneer. Now in her 70’s, Carla is still a vital force of life, teaching courses in Los Angeles and around the world. Her presence is powerful, she is warm and a gifted teacher — but her knowledge is immense. That’s why we receive numerous requests annually to see if she can come train up experts in this field in their country.

CM_teach_portraitIn addition to teaching, Carla still gets tremendous pleasure from working with clients in her highly successful consultancy. From teaching hundreds at a time, to helping the one soul see him or herself with new eyes… it’s a life-giving process for her; one that she loves to impart to as many students as possible. The recipients are spell bound with the wonder of discovery, and it’s easy to lose track of time when learning from Carla.

I can’t tell you how often I hear from people in all parts of the world that Carla’s groundbreaking book, The Triumph of Individual Style is “their bible” for this field. Her book and training program will live long beyond her, but those who have the opportunity to train with her directly during her lifetime know what an extraordinarily special experience it is.TIS-2012_Cover_v1

Now, more about the approach that sets us apart.

We teach both the deep science of color & style, and the heart +intuition needed to apply the science. We won’t give you simple formula’s that put you in limiting boxes. I can’t tell you how many times we hear from people who experienced a color or image consultation during which they were labeled a certain season, given a formula of colors, and have felt stuck with that ever since. We help them break out of those limiting boxes into a rainbow of freedom with new possibilities. And teach others to do the same.

So what is the Science? Every body has a certain combination of lines, shapes, colors, textures, proportion, scale, and sometimes, distinctive features. Knowing how to analyze then choose styles that flatter each body…that is the science.

But at the core of anyone’s style, must be their own personality. This is the heart of Image and Identity. We teach the process for discovering, drawing this out, and integrating it into an individual’s style. Over and over, you will be challenged to “get out of your head” and “into your heart” as you learn to use intuition and instincts which are key to discovering truth. This ability can be passed on to others you work with as well.

CM_teaching2013You will also receive basic guidance for business building, marketing and the actual process of making this a career. However, this is not the primary focus of our courses.

There is no replacing the presence of Industry pioneer, Carla Mathis and her deep knowledge of the Science and the heart of Personal Image.

That is the difference.

If this resonates with you, come join us today in a Webinar, Distance Learning course or enroll to learn from Carla in-person at one of our upcoming live courses. It would be our privilege to help facilitate your training through our institute. We look forward to meeting you.

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How To Describe This Thing We Do

Calling what we do “styling” misses so much of the point. Style, whether it is strong or hodgepodge, is almost always thought to be about the surface. Tweaking and preening the details to make someone or something look “of the moment” or “better” than they really are. When it works, an essential truth about the person, place or thing is revealed. Style has resonance when it supports the identity of the one being styled. This is NOT what people think of when they think of styling.

Rather than trying to redefine or expand the definition of styling, it might be more meaningful to hear from clients who have experienced the work. This serves two purposes; it toots our horn and personalizes the description.

“My tDavid_faves3ime with Carla was a transformational experience. Through a series of simple exercises, she helped me accurately identify and define my authentic self and gave me the tools to visually project my true self in the world.

I did not realize that things like color, clothing, “the stuff” in my home have such a huge impact on my behavior and how others perceive me. I never would have guessed that being intentional about what I choose to wear and surround myself with would be so empowering. It is.

With this small shift in my thinking, I have experienced profound and positive change in my daily life. Suddenly people know what to expect from me. They have a better understanding of who I am because they see it first. I am more confident, at ease with myself and a more effective communicator.”

- David, Durham, NC

You can see in David’s writing and hear in his voice the newfound clarity and confidence he is talking about. This personal confidence is more important to David than any new look. This begins to touch the essence of the work we do. Yes, its about clothes and the styles of clothes & accessories we wear, but its all in the service of revealing who we are.

“I wanted to thank you for yesterday! It was really eye opening not just for my style, but my heart! It is crazy actually, seeing on paper who I am. I recently have started rebranding my photography studio and was going to make it into this LA hip idea…But in all honesty, that is just not me! I’m a nature, and clean air and waterfalls kinda gal. It made me realize that I was trying to fit in here, but in that, somewhat loosing myself. It opened my eyes to why I shoot photography the way I do. Why when I look at people in LA who are wearing black clothing, why it makes me feel uncomfortable. Seriously, yesterday opened my eyes to so many things!!!! So thank you!!! It was a pivotal point in my life to have this done for me! I never would have seen all of this if it wasn’t for you.”

- Yvonne, Los Angeles, CA

Ok, the integration Yvonne is talking about is why we love doing what we do. She was about to make life decisions that were going to take her farther from her true self. She was rebranding her studio to look like what’s trendy and culturally hip now, at the loss of authenticity. We’ve all been in studios like this, where you can feel that the true identity, the real personality of the person doing the work is submerged. They’re doing what they think will appeal to the largest number of potential clients, rather than seeing the world the way they see it and offering this unique perspective to everybody whose interested.

Becoming integrated is a beautiful thing.

I’ll finish with a Yelp review from a recent client. She’s a graphic designer who lives in Los Angeles. She saw a local review and took a chance.

“Carla has an amazing gift. Her styling sessions/consultations are really a service to empower a person to visually express who they honestly are. The Style Core has connected different disciplines and has developed a way to create an individual style that is truly an extension of who one is.

I had the fortunate experience to give myself a full consultation. Wow! What a great experience! And what an education! The awareness!!!

To start, the office is a peaceful and lovely creative space near Sunset Blvd., in Silver Lake. Carla is very friendly and puts one at ease immediately. It’s a very safe, and oh so creative environment.

We started with a review of the online worksheet I filled out. This included submitting visual images I love, along with answering a few questions.

We went through some exercises where I picked out visuals that spoke to me. From this Carla distilled what it was about the imagery I was attracted to and how to bring those elements into my own wardrobe. And it resonated, because those were the exact elements in my 2 favorite “go to” outfits that NEVER EVER let me down.

Then we chose colors. Mind opening to see the subtle differences between tints, shades and hues of similar colors against my skin. The awareness of what works for me is huge!

And that leads to the next part of our session. Carla analyzed my coloring and the shape & proportion of my body and features. She showed me clothing styles, shapes, lengths, etc. that complimented my body shape. Clothing shapes/drape that helped visually relate my body measurements to body proportions identified in the art world as visually attractive to the human eye.

The exercises, color exploration, and body shape analysis gave me a vocabulary of why I liked somethings and permission to not like others. It gave me an elemental rock to stand on and hold fast to when tempted by magazine articles to try a fashion trend not meant for my coloring/body shape. And it stopped me from blaming my body for not looking good in something. It’s the fashion, or non-fashion that’s to blame!! Everyone’s body is perfect.

What I came away with makes me so happy. The Style Core system is like Human Centered Design, except the product is you. I whole heartedly recommend The Style Core. Their service is very empowering. It makes me so happy just thinking about my consultation and what I’ve discovered from it.”

Ann, Los Angeles, CA

There we go! The joy Ann is feeling, the empowerment, the clarity she now has about herself is what our work is all about.

Styling is about the surface, yes, AND its about what lies beneath the surface. We are integrated beings; body, soul and spirit. Seeing the connections between Who We Are on the inside and How We Look on the outside can be life-changing.

Show your story! Don’t hide it behind clothes that tell the story of some hot brand or ‘of the moment’ look. Integrate. Share who you are with us, we want to celebrate you.

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To learn how to see yourself in this new way. Book your own Complete Consultation.

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Recapturing a Childlike Wonder at How We Are Made

Girl-in-mirror

Girl In Front of Mirror, Norman Rockwell, The Norman Rockwell Museum at Stockbridge (detail).

My 6 year old daughter Sierra, comes to my wife and I and presents what she is wearing and how she looks. She wants more than approval, she is seeking validation; for the choices she has made, yes, and she is looking for more, she wants to know that she is ok. The external validation supports and gives shape to how she thinks about herself.

The Triumph of Individual Style is a book that speaks to us in this way. We are able to find ourselves in these pages; the works of art teach our eyes to see and believe that we are beautiful.

Feeling beautiful and being Ok
are often the same thing to a girl.

If we are brought up in a home where this kind of external affirmation is non-existent we become alienated from our own bodies, we become split, our sense of self is diminished. The Triumph of Individual Style reconnects body, soul and spirit. It speaks clearly and directly to us in the loving tones of a parent with a vision for our wholeness.

Starting with the Introduction, Carla Mathis and co-author Helen Villa Connor place before us Norman Rockwell’s, Girl In Front of Mirror. They speak of the beast of self-hatred, that troll at the foot of the bridge that leads to self-acceptance, to a lifetime of being beautiful. It accuses; “I hate your nose. Your eyes are too small. Why does your hair have to be so curly? And my God, your feet are HUGE!”. Mirrors are designed to be our friends. They are often our enemy.

Using artworks from all over the world they present feminine beauty in all her lovely forms. In chapter 2, for example, they show us how to identify our bodies natural silhouette.

Are you a RECTANGLE? rect
(Your shoulders are as wide as your hips/thighs, your waist is relatively the same width)

Mars and Venus United by Love, Paolo Veronese, The Metropolitan Museum of Art; John Stewart Kennedy Fund, 1910 (detail).

Mars and Venus United by Love, Paolo Veronese, The Metropolitan Museum of Art; John Stewart Kennedy Fund, 1910 (detail).

Are you an OVAL? oval

(Your shoulders are narrower or as wide as your hips/thighs, your waist is wider)

Girl in Red, Edgar Degas, National Gallery of Art, Washington; Chester

Girl in Red, Edgar Degas, National Gallery of Art, Washington; Chester

Are you a FIGURE-EIGHT? figure8

(Your shoulders are curved and as wide as your hips/thighs, your waist is narrower)

Parvati, standing, Islamic, Sculpture, South Indian, Chola Dynasty, ca. 900, The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Cora Tinken Burnett Collection of Persian Miniatures and other Persian Art Objects, Bequest of Cora Tinken Burnett, 1956 (detail).

Parvati, standing, Islamic, Sculpture, South Indian, Chola Dynasty, ca. 900, The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Cora Tinken Burnett Collection of Persian Miniatures and other Persian Art Objects, Bequest of Cora Tinken Burnett, 1956 (detail).

Are you an HOURGLASS? hourglass

(Your shoulders are square and as wide as your hips/thighs, your waist is narrower)

Madame X (Mme Gautreau), John Singer Sargent, The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Arthur H. Hearn Fund, 1916 (detail).

Madame X (Mme Gautreau), John Singer Sargent, The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Arthur H. Hearn Fund, 1916 (detail).

Are you a TRIANGLE? tri

(Your shoulders and waist are narrower than your hips/thighs)

Bather Arranging Her Hair, Auguste Renoir, National Gallery of Art, Washington; Chester Dale Collection (detail).

Bather Arranging Her Hair, Auguste Renoir, National Gallery of Art, Washington; Chester Dale Collection (detail).

Are you an INVERTED TRIANGLE? inv_tri

(Your shoulders are wider than your waist and hips/thighs)

Nude, Roger de La Fresnaye, National Gallery of Art, Washington; Chester Dale Collection (detail).

Nude, Roger de La Fresnaye, National Gallery of Art, Washington; Chester Dale Collection (detail).

In each of these beautiful paintings the artist has celebrated these women and their bodies AS THEY ARE. There are no value judgements! We look at these paintings and marvel at their beauty. The Triumph of Individual Style teaches us to look at our body’s with the eye of an artist.

You are a work of art.

To be painted by an artist is to see yourself in a new way. To see what she or he sees; an extraordinary creature with a form unlike any other!

This book elevates self-perception to an art form. It guides us step-by-step through every feature and facet of our bodies on a journey of self discovery, a journey of self-acceptance at a level that is at once new and as old as art itself. We have forgotten how to perceive ourselves aright. We have forgotten how beautiful we are.

work_of_ArtThis book will help you recapture a childlike wonder at how you are made. It will change how you approach getting dressed in the morning. It will transform what for many of us has been a painful reminder of our own failings (Putting on clothes and still not looking as good as we had hoped) into an opportunity to express what is unique about us, to affirm what we now know to be true; we are beautiful and worthy of recognition.

We know how to admire paintings. Let’s learn how to admire ourselves.

In each chapter you will learn how to make the connection between an element of art and your body (In the example above, you learn how to identify the SHAPE of your body’s natural silhouette). You then learn how that art element translates into selecting clothing and accessories that are in harmony and balance with your body. You become a living work of art.

art-to-body

There has never been a book like this one that not only helps us to see ourselves as works of art, but also teaches us step-by-step how to create a beautiful and artful composition every day.

As a father, I am in awe of my daughter. As a son, I am in awe of my mother. She has created something (So beautifully expressed with co-author Helen Villa Connor) that teaches us all how to see ourselves in a new way. I use this language with my daughter all the time. It has helped me see myself in a new light as I look in the mirror every morning and throughout the day. I look at myself with affirmation now. The negative, critical thoughts have been replaced with a new language, the language of art and affirmation.

Thank you mom for a new vision. It is now up to us to open our eyes and hearts to this new way of seeing ourselves and other people. Together, let’s make the world a more beautiful place.

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TIS_Webinar_SeriesWant to learn more? Join a live, interactive chapter-by-chapter walkthrough of “The Triumph of Individual Style” with co-author Carla Mathis being held July & August 2015. Participants can send photos for personalized advice related to each topic. Following the live sessions each webinar will be available as a recorded session. Sign up here…

Get the Book here