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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

Katelyns_Story

Living the Dream as a Personal Stylist: My Story

Hello! My name is Katelyn Milley. Thanks to The Style Core, I am living my dream of being a Personal Stylist. This May, I celebrated my business’ three year anniversary!

Here is my story…

In June 2012, I attended The Style Core’s Essential Personal Stylist training class. Having previously taken other styling courses, I wanted to build on my personal styling education. I really enjoyed the class and learned important skills that I use in my business today – most notably color analysis and how to give a fashion consultation. 

After completing the course, I went home and mulled over the information I learned from Carla. After a few months, I began creating my business. Over the next six months, I reserved my website URL, www.katelynmilley.com, selected a website template, and had my logo designed. I carefully constructed my brand. Business cards were printed and I wrote my website’s content. Then came the biggest challenge of writing my Fashion Consultation and Beauty Consultation guides. Finally, on May 14th, 2013, everything was ready to go, and I launched Katelyn Milley, Personal Stylist. 

Today, I offer seven different services to my clients including: Fashion Consultation, Beauty Consultation, Beauty Appointment, Closet Edit, Personal Shopping, Personal Styling, and Photo Styling. I work with my clients one on one in their homes, or as you can imagine, in malls and boutiques. Over the years, my client base has grown to comprise of many women from my area (near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), as well as from Delaware, Maryland, and New Jersey.

I have worked with many women I absolutely loved taking on a styling journey. Here are a couple of their stories:

Amy’s Experience

A therapist her early thirties, Amy chose the following services with me to get her best style: Fashion Consultation, Beauty Consultation, Beauty Appointment, Closet Edit, Personal Shopping, Personal Styling and Photo Styling. I loved hearing her feedback about the process, and hope you do too!

Photography by:@bluepearphoto Styling and Make-Up by:@katelynmilley Hair by: @KelseyLamarra [email protected]

K: What were your thoughts going into your styling experience?

“As a very (very) busy Mom of four girls, style had taken a back seat to the craziness of every day life. I love fashion and frequently look at blogs and spring/fall runways, enjoying the gorgeous details, colors, and artistic statements that a great wardrobe brings with it. In my closet, however, was basically a uniform of black shirts, black pants, with occasional grey thrown in. I had a jumble of clothes in piles that were unused but taking up space, and I was frustrated with the fact that I was wearing the same thing every day. I have a vibrant personality and my clothing was anything but a reflection of that. To add insult to injury, I am very petite, so finding well-fitting clothes is difficult. I would find myself frequently in the junior’s department, buying clothing that was far too young for me and still ill-fitting!”

K: Which part of the Fashion Consultation was your favorite?

“Katelyn had me choose a few paintings/photos that were inspiring/beautiful to me. I thought it was an odd exercise for a fashion consultation, but wow was it illuminating! As I described what I liked about each piece, we found that certain words kept coming up over and over again. As I thought through those words, I realized that they were reflections of my personality, and were things that I find beautiful about myself, too. And we were then able to take those words and apply them to a cohesive style sense that I found truly beautiful and reflective of what I wanted to put out into the world.” 

K: What were your thoughts and feelings after the Fashion Consultation?

“After the fashion consultation, I finally had a clear sense of what my style personality is! I was able to picture a cohesive wardrobe, instead of an ecletic mix of styles, many of which don’t work with each other (which results in buying lots of clothes that never get used).” 

K: What was your biggest takeaway from your Beauty Consultation?

“I have always been a minimalist when it comes to makeup. Which is okay, but I often found myself wanting to branch out and try some fun styles (a bold cat eye, for example), but was too afraid to actually rock it. Having Katelyn narrow down a perfect color palette for my skin, and then playing around with those colors, allowed me to branch out into a lot of different looks that I would have been too afraid to try otherwise!” 

K: What was most helpful about the Closet Edit?

“The most helpful thing about the Closet Edit was seeing just how many things in my closet I had overlooked! There were all these great pieces in there that I hadn’t worn in forever, or couldn’t figure out how to incorporate into my wardrobe, and Katelyn was like a magician – turning a piece that I would have given away to Goodwill, to a piece that will become a new staple in my wardrobe. On the other side of that, though, figuring out what isn’t worth holding on to was so helpful as well. I had a lot of pieces I was holding on to for who knows why, and it was time for them to leave my closet.” 

K: What did you like the most about Personal Shopping?

“The personal shopping was perhaps one of my favorite parts of the experience, and something that will forever change the way I dress myself. I was able to see, in person, how to sort through the enormous amount of choices presented by a store, and quickly decipher what will work for me and what won’t. As a woman who is very, very busy, being able to quickly see that the strap on a top will be to clunky for my small frame, or that the rise of a pair of jeans won’t flatter my proportions, will save me huge amounts of time and frustration in dressing room. When I go shopping now, it is such an amazing experience – being able to take all that knowledge that Katelyn imparted and put it to quick use is a life-saver!”

K: What have been your biggest takeaways from your styling experience?

“I think I have two biggest takeaways. The first, is that I have been able to define myself stylistically, and present myself outwardly in a way that matches how I feel inwardly. Expressing to the world who I am through the art of style is an important and wonderful skill to have!

The second is learning how to shop for clothes that fit my body. Learning how to scan for proportions on clothing has already saved me literally hours of time in a store, and much frustration. I am able to dress myself confidently in the mornings without fear that the look doesn’t work for me!”

K: Do you feel that you have become more aware of the importance of fashion and personal style in your life? If so, in what ways?

“I have definitely become more aware of the importance of style in my life. As I move forward with my career and with my life, how I present myself will be looked at and evaluated, and those evaluations with form the basis for my success. Using style to further myself and my personal brand now isn’t a huge hurdle to overcome, but a joy and a pleasure, and a tool that I can use skillfully and easily.” 

K: How would you say your styling experience has impacted your life?

“Apart from giving me the ability to confidently and easily dress myself every day, the styling experience gave me the ability to re-examine my own passions and priorities. As I learned more about how I project myself, I felt like I reaffirmed skills and gifts I have had, and uncovered new interests and ideas that had been lurking in the back of my mind, but hadn’t quite come to light. It gave me the time and space to make myself a priority, too, which had fallen by the wayside in my recent busy times. I am incredibly grateful for the experience, because I feel like I uncovered my most authentic self, both inside and out.” 

Andrea’s Experience

A pilates studio owner + instructor in her her early thirties, Andrea received a Fashion Consultation with me. She also gave me feedback about her experience…

Photo by Sarah Rachel Photography www.sarah-rachel.com

Photo by Sarah Rachel Photography www.sarah-rachel.com

K: Why did you decide to hire me as your personal stylist?

“I needed direction for style, shopping and how to dress to highlight my body and express my personal style.”

K: What were your thoughts going into your styling experience?

“This will be fun! Finally, I will be able to shop with confidence.”

K: Which part of the Fashion Consultation was your favorite?

“Choosing the best colors for me.”

K: What was your biggest takeaway from your Fashion Consultation?

“Learning how much science goes into it, much more than I thought!”

K: Do you feel that you have become more aware of the importance of fashion and personal style? If so, in what ways?

“Yes – color, proportion and ways to make myself appear thinner or taller all have been a huge benefit to me.”

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Being able to work with women like Amy and Andrea is a huge blessing. Thank you, Style Core for helping me be able to style people for a living. It truly is a dream come true!

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Blog feature photo collage (from top, counter clockwise) – # 1 &2 by Blue Pear Photography: www.bluepearphoto.com. #3 by Sarah Rachel Photography: http://www.sarah-rachel.com
Beauty-Nature-adn-you

Beauty, Nature, and You

“Every soul yearns for the Beautiful”
Beauty —John O’Donohue

Nature holds the key to Beauty. How do you feel when you come across some scene in nature or a magnificent-to-you flower? Whether grand in scale, or dainty in detail, beauty brings joy and a sense of wellbeing. There’s not one definition of beauty. Look at the thousands of different types of flowers: some are big, some small; some have frilly petals, others pointed ones; some have many petals, others few, yet, we don’t say one flower is more beautiful than another because it’s different. Some are fragrant, others merely beautiful to see. We don’t try to make a rose less a rose or an orchid less an orchid.

You can look at differences in women in the same way. Some of us are large-scale with large features; others have small-scale delicate ones. Some of us are curved and others straight. As there is beauty in every flower, there is potential for beauty in every body and every face.

 Start at the beginning

What distinctive body features do you feel keep you from being beautiful? What would you change if you could? Divide a paper into three columns and list what you would change.

 In the first column write down what you would like to change:

– Is it your shape? (Surely, God could not have intended your hips to be so big, so small; so rounded, or so flat!)

– Your hair… (Couldn’t it be straighter, or have some curl; be thicker, thinner?)

– Your eyes… (Couldn’t they be larger, smaller, not so slanted, or less ordinary?)

– Perhaps your body is crooked or your breasts too small, too big, too high, too low, too close together, too far apart.

– What about your freckles or the acne scars, the hair on your arms, the size of your hands, the turn up or down of your nose, your tummy, your thighs?

You might be thinking that there had to have been a cosmic mistake! Surely, you would be beautiful if some things on your body-list changed! The radical truth here is that there has not been a mistake. For whatever reason, no one taught you to see the beautiful truth of your body as it’s right now. You have not learned to dress and to choose hairstyles and makeup that showcase your unique expression and posibility of beauty.

 In the second column opposite each item you listed in column one, identify where your negative body attitude originated. Was it your brother, mother, father, aunt? How we think of ourselves is based on our life experience, and especially on comments of friends, relatives, and acquaintances—well meant or otherwise. An off hand comment like, “Too bad you have thighs like Aunt Velma,” gives a clear message that you are less than, and not quite good enough to beautiful. What were the comments you took into your heart? When did you start to feel dissatisfied with your body?

Perhaps it was not been safe to be beautiful, or some adult told you it was not important to be beautiful, or you compared yourself to some picture in a magazine, or a sibling or classmate teased you, (all in fun that was not fun to you). Each of us has a story to tell around this second column.

Your challenge is to replace the negative attitudes about your body with positive ones.

Column three. Leave this column blank until you discover a positive attitude replacement.

[Illustrate the following example ]

Column 1: overlarge derriere

Column 2: older brother teased me about this

Column 3: Sensuous, feminine derriere that is sassy like a Rodin beauty. I can wear clothes to show it off: Form-fitting dress with interesting detail at the back, or a swinging skirt that sways when I walk, and sassy high heels.

Somewhere along the way to complete attitude adjustment, physically get rid of your old negative ones. On a slip of paper, copy each negative attitude you listed in column one. Place the slips in a box; close the lid tightly, and put the box on a shelf you rarely use, never be opened again—we hope. You can physically do this exercise, or imagine yourself doing it. Once you put all those slips of paper in your box, you can choose to bury the box in the yard, throw it in the garbage, or burn it. Your goal is to one-by-one get rid of the first column attitudes and start living with third column positive, soul-nourishing messages about you.

Next, on another sheet of paper make a list of what you like about your body and your personality. Do you like your eyes, your smile, your ankles, your shoulders, or your waist? Remember when someone complimented you about some aspect of your personality. Are you friendly, helpful, kind? Do your eyes sparkle? Do you have a quick smile? As you start focusing on these aspects of you it will become easier to see the gift of each of the items you listed in column one of the first sheet.