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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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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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Choices

What size mirror do you have at home? Do you have a full length one or a small mirror to use when putting on makeup? If you want to do what it takes to see and celebrate your beauty, get a full length mirror!

Whatever your body…. if you feel you can’t possibly be beautiful because you are too plain, too heavy, too thin, too hippy, too flat or some other “too,” know your perception is not true. You have three more choices:

  1. You can continue to see yourself as ‘less than’. In which case you can keep reading these blogs to explore the possibility you might be wrong.
  2. You can deny that one’s looks make a difference, in which case, keep on reading these blogs to discover that this statement is false. How one looks does make a difference, in both how others perceive you and how you feel about yourself.
  3. Learn to showcase your features as beautifully unique.

Whether you choose one, two, or three, we will start at the beginning in the upcoming blogs to answer three fundamental questions:

What is beauty? Why is beauty important?, and… How do I begin?

How do you begin? First learn to see the beauty of your body as it’s now. Every form and shape, shadow and contour has the potential for creative expression in clothes you choose to wear. You can train your eye to see your beauty potential regardless of your size and shape. Second, learn to choose clothes and accessories that highlight your personality, Third, develop skills to use makeup and choose hairstyles that enhance your features and relate to your clothes and lifestyle. A beautiful reflection in the mirror depends on the total picture.

Virginia

Overweight by 150 pounds, Virginia had no clothes that fit her softly curved oval- silhouetted body.

She so hated her reflection that she dreaded going into a fitting room. Mirrors were her enemy. The only clothes that fit over her tummy were huge through the shoulder and hip, making her look like a shapeless lump with a tiny head on top. Once she began to see her body as an artistic shape very much like a bouquet of large peonies, she began the radical process of changing her self-hating talk and thought patterns. She started practicing self-encouragement thinking, which allowed her to the stop being a victim of available clothing. She took control of the way she looked. After buying the tent shaped clothing that fit over her tummy, she would march down to the alternations department and have the tops re-cut through the shoulders and the skirts and trousers tapered below her thigh and tummy. She changed the jewel necklines to large scoop necklines in order to frame her full rounded face. She shortened long sleeves to three-quarter length and made vents at the bottom of the side seams of her tunic-length overtops to give room for her thighs. She chose colors that repeated her blue green eyes and chocolate-rose skin. Shoes were a challenge until she found a catalog that carried an extra-wide a simple flat in a smoky taupe that related to her smoky deep brown hair. A long, soft rectangular chiffon scarf and pearl earrings that related to the whites of her delicate almond-shaped eyes finished her creative ensemble. Taking control of the possibility for beauty, resulted in self-confidence and self-acceptance. Her weight might be important for her health, but it’s not for her beauty.

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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.