Moving Mum, in more ways than one!

Posted by Jacqui Cooper On 21st Oct 2019

They say we should look back to our childhood to give us the answers we are seeking for our purpose in this life. I recall fondly how I used to play around in my mum’s wardrobe, I used to love to see her clothes and I would often find little piles of new clothes for us hidden ready for a family holiday.

We didn’t have an abundance of money, Dad (no longer with us ?) had a road haulage business and Mum often held down two or three jobs. I have a huge amount of respect for how she managed to keep all the plates spinning. Thanks to Mum and Dad I have always had a good work ethic and started with a part-time job at age 11.

I remember one Christmas, Santa brought me a beautiful little white dressing table. I used to put stacks of paper in each of the drawers and pretended it was my desk, I was a teacher. The message is loud and clear isn’t it – teaching/clothing/wardrobes – what do I do as a coach and personal stylist? I help people to live and dress authentically!

My fascination with all things fashion wasn’t always supported by my mum; she used to tell me off because I sometimes liked to change my clothes twice a day (that’s probably because I now know I’m a mood dresser). Most days I still do get changed twice but that’s due to my activities.  I remember as a teenager her saying to me “It’s not a fashion show you know!” Little did we both know at the time what an impact our clothes have on our psychology, self-esteem, emotions, beliefs and judgments about ourselves and others.

With a recent life change for my mum and full support from her family, I’ve had the ultimate pleasure to be able to gift back my skill and expertise to the woman who shaped my life.

A decision my mum made that’s changing her life

At 78 she made the decision to leave a relationship of eight years, move out of the house and the area and live by herself. There is a fine line as a coach for working with family and friends – sometimes you need to ask the right questions at the right time then run like hell to escape the verbal eruption that follows.

The prospect of continuing with life as it was, feeling as she did on a daily basis was literally sucking the life out of her. I could see her disappearing. It really saddened me but, as a professional coach, I can only facilitate change. People have to take responsibility for their lives and make their own decisions in order to fully embrace and own change.

The move day was 2nd March. A long, quite stressful and very tiring few weeks later she had rented and settled into a small, two bedroomed house on a little, gated community in Honley, five minutes’ drive from me.

Home, natural
Making a house a home
Table and two chairs, lace tablecloth

Mum has always created a welcoming and relaxing home environment and earthy tones set the scene for ‘coming home’. In Feng Shui teachings she expresses a lot of earth energy and when creating her living environment it manifests as earthy tones, nubby fabrics and of course nurturing of family and friends. Look how the table is laid for two.

Observations

As a classic dominant style preference, Brenda (we’ll refer to her now), veered toward black trousers throughout the winter most of the time. She believed they flattered her petite frame and made wearing dark footwear a great solution. She has to ‘dress from the feet up’ as one of her daily challenges is wearing footwear that is comfortable as she has one foot larger than the other. Finding footwear has always been a huge frustration for her which often meant the expense of buying two pairs at the same time and ditching the unusable odd sizes.

Whilst I was packing up her clothes ready for the move I noticed a theme evolve. She had created a uniform of the same style – little-cropped cardigans in multiple colours which she tended to button right up to the neckline. A diagnosis of skin cancer last year has also impacted on her, having to cover up more, staying out of the sun and have the cancers periodically cut out.

Lady in white cardi and black trousers
Mum in her uniform of white cardi and black trousers

During the packing up process, I found beautiful scarves along with some amazing dress jewellery carefully packed away along with unworn expensive items of clothing. In amongst her past employment, she found the time and self-funded training to make bespoke wedding dresses (which were to die for!). She was such a talented seamstress that when I was 11 she made me a Spanish flamenco dress out of orange wallpaper which I won the prize for at school.

In the last few years, she has developed a new skill set as an accomplished embroiderer and award-winning too! This has been an outlet for her to express her creativity through her hobbies and work over the years.

But I sensed that the ‘uniform’ she had created constricted her. For the last four years she hasn’t seemed happy and wasn’t relaxed most of the time, she became a worrier. Traits that seemed to manifest to huge proportions.

Were her constricted clothing choices a result of her emotional state or was her environment the catalyst for choosing clothes that constricted her emotions?

The packing up and sifting out of her things was insightful. I lovingly suggested to her that once she got settled in her new home, if she would like to, we could look at passing on the clothes that didn’t really fit her anymore and use it as an opportunity to assess what she needs moving forward. A new life and a wardrobe that will support that.

So, last week we started the process of considering what that new life looks like:

  • Lots of social activities
  • Family time
  • Going to new places to meet new people
  • A welcoming and comfortable home.

The wide leg black trousers and Miss Marple cardigans had to go – a thing of the past. There is still work to do in her wardrobe and lots of trips to make to the charity shop, but in the meantime, we had a little shopping trip and I hope you agree how fabulously happy and authentic she looks now. The introduction of the beautiful periwinkle (blue) scarf is strategically placed at the throat chakra. Blue (energetically speaking) evokes trust and communication, some added armoury to support nurturing new friendships.

Makeup

I wanted to achieve a modern look that really made her eyes ‘pop’. I used Dusk from the Colour Me Beautiful range all over the lid and created emphasis around the eyes using an amethyst soft eyeliner pencil and blended it along the lash line. Oyster light reflective foundation, a dash of Candy powder blush and lashings of pink shell lip gloss completed the look.

All products are available from my studio. Why not treat yourself and start by updating your makeup with a makeup lesson? This session includes a complimentary hair consultation with Steve at Taylor Hughes Hairdressing.

Clothes

As a petite, wherever possible, buy from a petite range which means that the clothes should be in proportion for your frame. Mum’s mistake was trying to cover up her shape which made her look wider and shorter than she is. Playing with shape and colour visually slims and reshapes her.

As you can see, the colours, styles and design lines I’ve selected balance and harmonise her natural colouring and work with her classic/natural profile and body shape.

Here’s what mum had to say about her makeover experience

“I can’t believe how different I feel. And (amidst uncontrollable laughter) how Jacqui had me laid down on the bed while trying to squeeze me into a pair of jeans and knelt on me to pull up the zip. What a revelation, my first pair at 78 and I love them.

“I realise now what my clothes were doing, they were protecting me, but also pushing me into the background. The reality is I wanted to be the person I used to be, fun to be with, laughing a lot, chatty and friendly. I used to save my expensive clothes for ‘best’ and I’ve now realised every day should be my best. Those clothes were hardly worn and don’t even fit me anymore so that was a waste of money. I’d never have thought in a month of Sundays I would be wearing jeans. I look so much slimmer but the really important thing for me is how I now feel.

“Of course, ending the relationship and having my own space has been key but I really didn’t realise how important my clothes were in how I felt about myself. The impact has been huge; today I have been out and I am wearing lovely clothes to do ordinary things and I feel so much more alive again. I’ve come back to my true self and feel as though I’m really expressing who I am in my clothes rather than just trying to cover myself up. I’ve had so many compliments about my new look which every day adds to my self-confidence and self-esteem.

“I’ve created some new habits too, she’s got me drinking lemon water as my first drink of the day. I’m drinking more water and less wine and making healthier food choices too!”

The journey

The journey from York has been life-changing in many ways. Her new-found freedom, new friendships, fun and laughter, her spirit has returned and her eyes, which became misty, have returned to a beautiful bright blue once again. My mum was always the life and soul of a gathering and I’m honoured to have played a small part in her reinvention.

So, let me ask you a question, what’s stopping you making changes you want in your life?

Let my mum be an inspiration to you.

Let me know, I’d love to share your journey x

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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