“Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.”
― Mark Twain
During this abnormal time in which we are living, I believe that people have become more reflective and that has manifested in several ways. Interestingly, I am seeing an increase in the demand for style consultations. I see four main reasons.
First, there has been a renewed emphasis on the importance of personal brand. People want to know how to be authentic, reflect who they are while at the same understand the clothes that work for them so they can align their personality to their visual appearance.
Second, comfortable and casual clothes have taken centre stage as more people work from home and have changed their socialising habits. Will we ever have to get “dressed-up” again is a question I’m regularly asked?
Third, there has never been a better time to look at the sustainability of our clothing. My clients want to know how to buy less and buy better – something we at House of Colour have been espousing for 35 years. The pandemic has afforded us with a great opportunity to change our habits of over-consumption. Knowing what to buy is key.
The sustainability issue is linked to the final issue which is one of investment. With sustainability comes choosing wisely, knowing what to buy, making each piece work hard, gaining cost per wear. During lockdown and pandemic restrictions, there has been a realisation that we are surrounded with too much stuff. There has been a wave of decluttering, reducing, reusing and recycling in all areas of our lives. My clients want to know what to put into their wardrobes (and what to take out!) so that they get return for their investment.
Maslow's hierarchy of needs places clothing firmly on the essentials list, when it comes to “universal human needs”. Clothing provides dignity, warmth, protection - and, for those able to see it, a way to express identity and communicate. During this year, clothes’ ability to change how we see and feel about ourselves is especially pertinent. Jeff Bezos defined personal brand as “what others say about you when you leave the room”. It’s a question I ask all my clients. How do you want to be perceived and how will you keep that image consistent?
We all know that it takes 10 seconds to make a first impression which is largely based on the visual. By aligning what you wear with your personality, you take control of that conversation. Discovering how to do that is one of the key takeaways for my clients and is repeated again and again in testimonials. “I no longer dress for someone else”; “I have permission to dress as myself”; “People now see me for who I am”.
As many of us have become a postage sized figure on an online meeting, we have a smaller space in which to make a great impression. ‘Wearing what you are’ is the best way to have the right impact and to be memorable for all the right reasons. When you do that you will build trust at speed.
This season’s hottest trends are oversized t-shirts, pyjamas and loungewear. With most consumers working from home and not going out to concerts, clubs or events, clothing production has also had to pivot. More people are communicating via video, and many workers only need to look professional from the waist up. Catering to home-bound customers is likely to last for a while. However, research clearly shows that when we dress with intent, we are more productive and we work with intent.
Some are missing expressing who they are, others are using this time to understand how to present themselves appropriately when and if they return to a work location. Many women and men struggle to dress casually regardless of what the trends are once they have their style consultation they discover that they have permission to be who they need to be. Everyone can be casual but everyone will define what that means within their own context and individuality.
Globally we are producing too many clothes. Fast fashion is third only to shipping and international air travel in harming the environment. The amount of unworn clothes in wardrobes in UK and Ireland stretch on a clothes rail from London to New York and back two and a half times. Consumers are filling wardrobes with clothes that are worn once – or not at all - and then being thrown away. We are creating massive landfill sites full of disposed clothes in largely third world countries.
As a result, clients want to know how to buy less and have as much or more to wear. A case in point from a recent client who since her consultations has bought 7 new pieces for her wardrobe. Because all the pieces are right for her she can create many outfits. Learning what to buy is key to reducing consumption. Understanding your own style allows you to eliminate the waste and will put you in control so you’re not hobby-shopping or falling foul of fashion trends which aren’t right for you. Vintage, pre-loved, renting and sharing clothes are all on the rise.
At House of Colour we encourage all our clients to move their thinking from garment price to garment cost per wear. Cost per wear is the number of times we wear an item divided into the original price. Lowering the cost per wear is the best way of ensuring you get the best value for your money. Nothing should be living rent free in your wardrobe. Every item should be earning its keep. With the knowledge gained in consultations, it is easy to spot the right garment, to have a capsule wardrobe, to have many outfits from less items, to know how to add your own stamp to the clothes.
“Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak”, said Rachel Zoe. We all wear clothes every day. The right clothes on the right person brings confidence which filters into all areas of your life and allows you to make your impact on the world.
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