When Littlegem met Curvy Carrie

Posted by Jacqui Cooper On 29th Feb 2020

As we wrap up 2018 let me introduce you to Gemma, the last case study for the year.

Her day started on Instagram with this post:

Gemma Raby, Instagram

Gemma: This is the face of anticipation and fear people. Today I’m going for my first ever stylist session with my best friend Danielle – she’s having her colours done and I’m getting some input into my “look”. It’s not until you’re asked to complete a probing questionnaire about your past, favourite items of clothing and style inspirations that you really start to deeply doubt yourself. I sent off a hastily completed form and only afterwards thought of so much more information that would be helpful. Never fear @jacquicooperstyle – I have a small list for completeness. Really excited but super nervous too. Fingers crossed I’ll get some help with trousers and tops – both of which I regularly fail at. Although after spending the first four hours of today believing I forgot to pack clean underwear for my overnight stay – I found them! Fresh knickers for me.

Jacqui: I’d had a double booking for Gemma and Danielle in my diary for colour consultations for about three months. Close to the date, Gemma called me and we talked through the consultation and agreed she would benefit far more from a style consultation rather than colour. She has an Instagram account @littlegem79 and regularly blogs about make up and application. When I checked out the account I thought she looked very beautiful and soooooo photogenic and did wonder why she thought she needed the colour consultation in the first place!

Friends, two ladies smiling
Danielle and Gemma ready for their consultations

Gemma: I initially arranged my stylist session to keep my best friend company – she was having her colours done. I feel quite comfortable with colour so thought styling might be a better use of my time and resources after having spoken to Jacqui. I’ve felt my personal style has become a bit confused since I moved into a new role professionally which lets me wear my own clothes – after almost two decades of wearing uniforms. This freedom but self-imposed restraints means I was constantly feeling unsure of what to wear. Social media (Instagram I’m looking at you) was also guiding me towards a very cool daytime look of midi dresses and skinny jeans with trainers which I adopted wholeheartedly but not perhaps wisely. I was actually really nervous. I’ve never experienced a styling session before although always thought it would be a great opportunity. I was a bit uncertain which clothes to bring with me.

Lady having her colours done
Friend Danielle having her Colour Consultation

Jacqui: After an initial telephone consultation and a booking is confirmed I ask the client to complete a questionnaire, it’s quite detailed but it’s really insightful, not just for me but for the client too. I also ask them to think about how they want to portray their image, are they inspired by someone else’s style? It’s really important that a client brings with her a good selection of her clothes too. The clothes tell me a story!

Traditionally, most stylists have you complete a questionnaire which determines whether your dominant style is, say, dramatic, romantic, natural, city chic or classic. I think this has its place but is a little outdated. I like to really get under the skin of a client – literally by asking lots of questions about lifestyle, aspirations, likes and dislikes etc. etc. – it’s the coach in me. Together we work on something called your ‘Style Statement’, this can be a little lengthy but it’s certainly worth it – as it becomes your mantra for buying new items and clearing out clothes that no longer work for you.

Gemma: Jacqui took me through some visualisation exercises, asking me to dig into my reasons behind choosing certain outfits/items. Very introspective and holistic. Quite emotionally moving at times. My biggest breakthrough was when asked to picture myself 45 years older (85) what one thing would I tell myself. I realised I’d tell myself to stop worrying about constantly trying to lose weight. Learn to love myself, curves and all!

I also realised my style icon was Carrie Bradshaw and preceded that with ‘curvy’ which made it align more with me. Think ‘Curvy Carrie’, wow that works! Moving forward, whenever I’m choosing new clothes or putting an outfit together I should think ‘does it make me feel confident, feminine and glamorous’ – these were the three words I’d decided would describe my new image, (had no idea of this prior to the session).

I’d expected something quite basic in the consultation, such as don’t wear high-necked tops or smocks (both a big no-no for me) but instead I was brought to have an understanding of why I make styling and clothing choices and how to use these instincts going forwards. I learned why I was struggling getting tops and trousers to ‘work’ for me. I was buying the wrong fabric and shape for my curves!

Lady looking at clothes on rail
Exploring current clothing choices – such an insightful part of the session

Jacqui: I think it’s really valuable that a client understands what works for her and why. That the choices she has already made in styles, colours and fabrics are intrinsic decisions. Gemma had experimented with a few looks recently (seen on Instagram) but hadn’t paid enough attention to her proportions, scale, and her body shape.

Gemma: Jacqui provided me with personal insight and helped me rediscover a vintage-inspired style I always used to wear but had begun to feel was old fashioned or just too sexy for day to day wear. I now know it’s not about dressing inappropriately. It’s about dressing appropriately inappropriate. Why shouldn’t I wear killer heels and a pencil skirt to work if I feel like it?

I suddenly remembered I had a whole load of amazing dresses I’ve had for years that were in my dry cleaning basket. I’d not worn them for ages as they were all too small. However, following lots of healthy and sensible eating, but no fad diets, I’ve lost 16 pounds and they all fit perfectly! I feel more comfortable in statement dressing. I love amazing clothes, often brightly coloured, embellished and with beautiful finishes. Not for the shy and retiring. I also bought a pair of pre-loved purple suede Versace heels from Jacqui’s studio boutique whilst there. I adore them!

Versace Shoes

As a result of the Style Consultation I’ve re-evaluated how I put together outfits. It’s no longer about just being comfortable and practical. Now it’s about that but far more about me feeling confident in myself and proud of my curves – they may make me feel a bit over the top sometimes but my session helped me understand that an hourglass figure is what many women dream of. I need to stop focusing on my pudgy tummy and chubby arms and instead flaunt my small waist, J Lo bum and great boobs!

I genuinely feel like a new woman. I feel I’ve rediscovered myself after fading away so slowly I never realised I’d lost myself.

Gemma Raby, headshot

I’m already thinking of booking Jacqui for a shopping session next year. Maybe as a self-gift to me for my big 40 in March.

Jacqui: It’s all too easy to pick up a magazine or hop on to social media and see someone looking fabulous in an outfit and before you know it it’s in your shopping basket, ker-ching and it’s on its way to you.

I’ve learned the key to lasting personal style is to really get to know who you are at your core, your body shape (which often evolves, just like your inner shape), your colouring and which cuts and types of fabric and pattern both flatter and align with you. Working with a personal stylist can seem a like an indulgent treat but when you consider how much you spend on your clothes versus how much you wear all your clothes it’s an investment because it actually saves you money in the long run!

And if you want to read all about Gemma’s experience on her Instagram feed here you go:

Two days ago I was lucky enough to visit @jacquicooperstyle – aka one of my new favourite people, she oozes #conniebritton beauty and charm. I’ve never visited a stylist before and was a touch nervous, needlessly as it turns out. Her studio is a beautiful grown-up dressing up box the size of a house. There’s even a small boutique including new clothing and a #preloved section. I completely fell in love with these #versace heels in purple suede and brought them home with me 💖. The styling was quite reminiscent of #trinnyandsusannah moments but very holistic. Lots of visualisation and introspection – I had an unexpected cry at one point – Jacqui totally saw it coming though. We confirmed my body shape #hourglassfigure and I was asked to come up with my own style mantra. This is something to ask myself whenever I’m buying something new. Mine was feminine, confident and glamorous – my style icon being curvy #carriebradshaw, which fits my style of being a mood dresser. What I wear can vary hugely – jeans and trainers to sequins and stilettos at brunch. Jacqui was very complimentary to my natural style and use of colour which was lovely to hear, she helped me work out better lengths for existing skirts and dresses to flatter me and said the reason I struggled with trousers and formal shirts is that they just don’t really flatter my curves. I also, after a big mirror moment, realised that although I love the trend of midi skirts/skinnies with crew necks and pumps on Instagram, it’s really doing me no favours. So, I’ll be selling a shit load of cashmere crews on eBay 😔but using the funds for more considered and flattering buys.  

Today smells like embarrassment, mild humiliation and satisfaction with a top note of hope. After my experience with @jacquicooperstyle last week I decided it was time to sort out the EU clothing mountain that has taken over my dressing/craft room. It was already fairly sizeable but with a conquerable peak. Add to this all the clothes I’ve worn and felt unhappy in, clothes I don’t wear due to fit, colour, style and it’s become my own personal Everest. I’ve spent 4 1/2 hours sorting, photographing and grouping it all. Now for total honesty, there are still about 4 more lots of shoes but they’re very summery so going to leave them until spring. There’s also two huge bags for my local charity shop, but the majority of this is going on eBay. I’m so embarrassed about the money I’ve wasted on poorly considered purchases both new and pre-loved and how it’s just sat, mouldering away for months (years). The main things I feel sad about are my cashmere jumpers. I love them but the combination of style and colours make them on the “sell” list. I have my eye on two very carefully considered new purchases from @insidejigsaw which are expensive but hopefully keepers. I’m hoping to be able to buy them for myself with funds raised by this epic jumble sale. Are you guys good at limiting your shopping or keeping clutter to a minimum or is it a hoarder’s paradise in your home? #hoarders #clearout #ebayseller #preloved #euclothingmountain #stylistsession

Connect with Gemma on Instagram: littlegem79

You’ll find me on there too: Jacquicooperstyle

About Jacqui

Hello, I'm Jacqui Cooper, The Style Counsellor, and I'm passionate about helping people look and feel good by living and dressing authentically.

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