What Happened When Our Columnist Got a Transformational Makeover With a Personal Stylist
Fed up of her ‘comfortable’ clothes, our own intrepid Elizabeth Joseph decides enough is enough and heads to a personal stylist for a transformational makeover – entering a whole new phase of everyday dressing
I promised myself, as a younger person, that I would never fall into the trap of wearing comfortable, shapeless beige clothes when I finally reached old age. The promise I neglected to make was not to fall into wearing comfortable, shapeless blue clothes when I reached middle age. Again, I’m not sure when it happened but almost every item in my wardrobe is blue. And if it isn’t blue, it’s black.
I understand that a little middle-aged spread, plus time spent indoors during lockdown, has led to a propensity for elasticated waists and baggy tops. I appreciate that the long vests are to try to cover the alarming expanse of my derriere, and because my gran insisted ‘one should always keep one’s kidneys warm!’. Yet, I truly have no idea when I made the decision to completely limit any colour from creeping into my wardrobe.
Does any of this ring true for you? Are you nodding your head at any of this? Possibly you are a classic pear shape like myself, desperately trying to minimise ‘love handles’, ‘muffin tops’, a big bum and a complete lack of stomach definition. Or maybe you have more of an hourglass figure? Or are you an apple? Or a strawberry? And have you thought recently about what kind of skin tone you have?
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‘By putting me in a range of clothes that I would never have picked off a rail and taken into the changing room of any clothes shop, she opened my eyes to all I was doing wrong, and the small changes I needed to make to get it right’
Well, apparently all of these things are important if you wish to dress to impress rather than hiding yourself in shapeless, bland and baggy clothing. How do I know all this? I’ll tell you how. I took the plunge and booked an appointment with a personal stylist. Something I never thought I would do – and to be honest something I did solely because I thought it would make useful and interesting reading. I truly did not anticipate what a complete game-changer it would be for me personally.
As a writer, and stay-at-home-mum, I am rarely called upon to look my best. I work from home, have my shopping delivered, rarely go clothes shopping, don’t go to a gym or exercise classes, have no hobbies, shuffle the 10 minutes to school to drop off and pick up the kids twice a day, and rarely go out of an evening. Goodness me, that made slightly depressing reading. I think that needs to be looked at more closely! But not here! Here we are looking at clothes!
And what clothes! Thanks to the two hours I spent in the company of Josta Wood, with her keen eye and extensive knowledge of body shapes and skin tones and what will and will not flatter, I have quite frankly been transformed.
By putting me in a range of clothes that I would never have picked off a rail and taken into the changing room of any clothes shop, she opened my eyes to all I was doing wrong, and the small changes I needed to make to get it right.
So what was I doing wrong? Well, mostly everything, but for what I thought were the right reasons. As a classic pear shape, by trying to minimise my middle section I was actually making it all look a lot bigger. The vest (sorry Gran), the baggy T-shirts and sweatshirts completely hid what is in fact an altogether not bad waist. The trousers that I always had sitting comfortably on my hips were in fact causing the delightful love handles/muffin tops, call them what you will, in the first place.
Every pair of trousers that Josta put me in were high waisted. Imagine! And some were culottes. Something so far removed from my idea of clothes that I just had to look up how to spell them. And they all looked fabulous. And because they are so high waisted they will keep my kidneys warm anyway. And they actually made my legs look longer. And my bottom smaller. Imagine!
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The T-shirts she had me try on were not hugely far removed from what I would normally wear, but what Josta did with them made me feel a little faint. She tucked them in at the front. Tucked them in! After holding onto the clothes rail of brightly-coloured garments, and taking a deep breath to steady myself, I looked in the mirror. There it was. There was my waist. I suddenly looked more hourglass than pear.
To highlight this Josta also had me try on a few flowery, flouncy blouses. The frilly shenanigans on the collars and shoulders evened out the difference between my shoulders and my hips – again making my figure more hourglass than pear.
I also tried a few jumpers that sat just past my waist rather than right past my bottom, and once again drawing the eye into the waist. And blimey they were bright: emerald and sapphire and red. Jewel colours apparently are the colours for me. Pastels and white pale me out because of my white hair and I should stay away from pinks as I have quite a lot of redness in my face and pink highlights this. Blue is perfect for me though, so at least I have been doing one thing right!
‘It is important to identify the shape of each client as we are all different from each other,’ explains Josta. ‘I personalise clothing to shape beautifully as well as dressing a client’s personality. So the focus is on proportion through body shape, not size.’
‘For pear shaped ladies, it’s best to use lighter, brighter colours and patterns above the waistline and darker or muted colours below,’ she goes on to explain. ‘A woman with an hourglass figure can wear patterns and colours freely.’
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Focussing on other body shapes Josta continues, ‘a woman who is a typical apple shape has a curvy bust, lack of waistline and a narrow hip line. She can wear lighter, brighter colours and patterns below her hip line and darker colours and muted colours and not too obvious patterns above. A woman who is a strawberry shape typically has a top-heavy bust, very slender waist and narrow hip line and can wear lighter and brighter colours and patterns below the waistline, and darker colours minus the obvious patterns above the waistline.’
Josta also points out the importance of skin tone. ‘I give my clients a range of colour palettes that flatter their own skin tone, taking into account their hair and eye colour.’ Also not to be overlooked is the importance of what you wear underneath your clothes, as Josta makes very clear. ‘There is nothing worse than an ill-fitting bra. It ages you, gives you bad body proportion and makes everything look in the wrong place from the outside!’
For me, this final point is the most important: ‘As a personal stylist my focus is on styling a client as I see her,’ says Josta. ‘Not how she sees herself, which is sometimes negatively. By the end of the session I like her to feel full of confidence and like a new woman.’
By the end of the session I am happy to report that I did indeed feel full of confidence and like a new woman. And not a toddler!
Now I just need some help with my social life.
Follow @jl_josta on Instagram for more style tips.