How can she not know she looks good in something?

Posted by Jacqui Cooper On 18th Jul 2019

Were the words uttered from the beautiful women sat in front of me …

If you already follow me on Facebook or Instagram you’ll know I’ve recently been in a delightful part of Italy, just south of Rome, on a yoga holiday. I say holiday and not retreat as I think they are quite different experiences. Traditional yoga retreats include healthy eating (generally vegetarian food), are alcohol-free and are an opportunity for quiet contemplation and hours of daily yoga practice and meditation.

Yoga, Jacqui Cooper, Italy

It’s not that I’ve just returned from an unhealthy yoga holiday, far from it. In fact, I experienced all the wonderful aspects of a holiday in the mountains; sunshine, home-cooked Italian food (two of which were three courses, twice a day!), more than is necessary delicious wines from the region, a daily walk in nature, luxurious surroundings of a small and intimate hotel, a break from domestic duties and some much needed headspace.

All of this in addition to daily ‘flow’ delivered by beautiful Nina who was our teacher for the week. And of course, the added benefit of attending a group gathering is the meeting of new like-minded people.

And this was the really funny thing, would you believe me if I told you that out of the 9 people in the group 5 of them had or previously had senior positions in the fashion business!

  • Previously operations director of a well-known high street national brand
  • Former learning and development manager of a high street national brand
  • A fashion designer from a high-end online brand who also dresses royalty!
  • A fashion designer who dresses the red carpet celebs and has worked with some HUGE names in the industry
  • The owner of a fashion show production company, model training and self-confidence business.

Shhhh, can you keep a secret? Inwardly I was sooooo excited and couldn’t wait to engage in conversation with the designers about how they find inspiration, what their background was, how did they get to be where they are now, who they had worked with, who they had dressed etc. etc. And then my dreamy vision of a creative life full of fabric, colour and thread unfolded as insights were shared about the reality of what day-to-day life in some fashion houses was really like.

One of the designers told me how at his last appointment the creative team were shouted at by the founder most days and how staff were regularly reduced to tears. I mean how can you be creative in an environment like that? But my bigger question is what’s making someone in a high-profile position behave so badly and disrespectfully? Given that by modern day standards, where wealth and possessions are the measure of success, he has everything money can buy?

It’s easy to judge from the outside, but do we really know what’s going on in the inside for someone to behave like that. We don’t know their journey and we haven’t walked in their shoes. Sometimes I make assumptions about people and behaviours based purely from my model of the world, then I remind myself Ok, let’s not judge here! Mmmmm, it is a mindset shift, but it has certainly helped me to become more understanding and compassionate of others. And yes, it’s obvious to those in the know, seeking achievement without fulfilment, well we all know the saying ‘money can’t buy happiness’ (unless of course it’s a fab pair of new shoes!).

No coincidences

I believe there are no coincidences and we were all connected at the Casale for a reason. Sometimes we don’t know why at the time but at some point things will begin to unfold. As you can appreciate I was privy to lots of inside information about divas, fashionistas and huge egos but as an accredited coach I couldn’t possibly betray confidence.

Suffice to say from someone who also works within the fashion industry I have a very different client profile who I refer to as real-world women. They are grounded, appreciative, vulnerable, confident some days and not others, have fat and thin days, some posh some not, some wealthy some living on a budget, mostly overwhelmed by the whole retail experience, frustrated (most but not all) that they don’t compare to the women in the glossy mags, keeping it all together. And for some (but very few) they are living the dream!

So, let’s get back to the clothes bit …

We talked about authentic style and what that means to each of us. One of the designers expressed his passion for a certain kind of natural fabric and is seriously considering creating an own label collection. When I explored this further, it opened a rather interesting conversation about his lifestyle and values. Isn’t that what sometimes drives us off in different directions? We ‘wake up’ to the realisation that we don’t feel on track, aligned, or valued for our contribution. For some, these feelings are aroused yet resisted as the doubts and mind chatter override our initial thoughts and feelings.

When I expressed my opinion that a lot of my clients weren’t clear about what suited them anymore, that they feel they have lost their identity or simply feel overwhelmed at the prospect of shopping on the high street one of the designers who is, I might add, naturally very beautiful, incredibly talented and has the elegance and physique of a ballerina, said:

“Really, how can she not know she looks good in something?”

Great question! Clearly, we attracted different tribes.

And ladies I’m sure you all realise by now there is a huge difference between just looking good and authentically feeling good.

How many times have you bought something because you thought it looked good on you, or your husband liked you in it, or it makes you ‘fit in’ at work, on the school run, or with your new circle of friends. Yet these feelings can be short-lived as the next time you wear it you simply don’t feel as good. I’ve learned from hundreds of clients that this can be due to a number of reasons:

  • You copied someone else’s look, but now you realise it doesn’t really work for you.
  • You were having a good hair day that day anyway and felt confident at the time.
  • You were having a ‘thin’ day but it could easily be a ‘fat’ day.
  • You’ve since gained weight – another bulge.
  • You’ve since lost weight – 🤦‍♀️ gawd, another shopping trip.
  • There’s something about the fabric that doesn’t feel right now, but you’ve no idea if it’s the pattern, texture, fabric or the cut.
  • You can’t think of anything else to coordinate with it, so you are limited to what you can wear it with. You wished you’d bought the whole outfit you saw on the mannequin.
  • It was expensive and out of your normal budget so you save it for best, but the reality is you don’t get value from it as ‘best’ isn’t frequent enough.
  • An impulse purchase, you bought it in the sale but don’t have anything to wear with it.
  • It was a gift for you so you feel you ought to wear it.
  • It’s gone out of fashion now.
  • It’s in fashion but it seems every other person seems to be wearing it or something similar.
  • You’re not sure if it’s appropriate now for your ‘age’.
  • The assistant in the shop complimented you on how lovely you looked in it which gave you a confidence boost at the time.

Bridging the gap between fashion and reality

How then do we bridge the gap between a designer’s inspiration and creativity, who they visualise the clothes will be adorned by and the reality of most women (in Yorkshire)? Women who have fat/thin days, bad hair days, wobbly baby belly, feelings of overwhelm the minute they hit the shops, confusion over their changing body-shapes, women who want to reinvent themselves but don’t know where to start, who have loads of clothes but really don’t know what to wear anymore.

I know and have empathy with you on all of the above as I have been there myself. You may think (if you don’t know me) that I’ve been captivated by all things style and clothes for my whole career. But, actually this didn’t come until I had a huge life change in 2011 when Mr C and I sold Coopers Coffee a national coffee business we created in the early 80s – more on that next month.

Mr C and me back in the Coopers Coffee days

The sale of that business instigated a lifestyle shift for me and an opportunity to reinvent myself. I’ve evolved my style, my life and my mindset with much gratitude to the tools and techniques I employed for myself that I now offer others today. I do think that some people just aren’t ready for the way I work yet but times are changing. People are beginning to tune in to how they feel rather than always seeking external validation. Real confidence comes from within and not just about the way we look.

So if you’d like to have a chat about booking a session with me, I can help guide you toward the kind of clothes, designs and brands that will align fully with you, your values and aspirations so that:

You will know when you look (and feel) good in something!

And keep your eye on my events page as there are lots of upcoming opportunities to mix with like-minded women and, who knows, maybe meet some new friends along the way.

Discover more about my Full Image Consultation

Meet Alana, one of the owners of the Casale, and Nina, our yoga teacher

Until next month,

With love & gratitude

Jacqui x

Nina: www.yogagrown.co.uk

The Casale: www.casalespietro.com

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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