Has lockdown got you living in loungewear? Try a personal stylist for size
HLN caught up with Lucienne Gage of Next Chapter Styling to find out how we can reconnect with our wardrobes – and ourselves
Introducing Next Chapter Styling
Lucienne is a trained image consultant who was first inspired to go into the world of fashion by watching her Mum make clothes, and has since worked in retail, manufacturing and commercial before starting her own business in 2017.
At Next Chapter Styling, Lucienne offers styling consultations both online and in-person to suit every need and occasion. So whether it’s a dip in confidence, a special event coming up or simply a much-needed wardrobe workout, Lucienne is on hand to guide you through a journey of discovering (or re-discovering) who you are, through your clothes.
As the name of your business suggests, you help your clients enter into the ‘next chapter’ of their lives. How can wearing the right clothes impact us?
Our life experiences change us – how we see the world and, in turn, how the world sees us. Every now and then we have to stop, reset, and carry on into the ‘next chapter’. Our clothing choices need to be adapted too, to meet our new outlook, career, body shape or whatever circumstance we are trying to achieve synergy with. Making informed clothing choices, rather than a handful of ‘safe picks’, can boost our confidence as we go forward, giving us control over how we want to be seen by others in whatever setting, be it professional or personal. This can be your ‘Next Chapter’.
What does it means to ‘reconnect’ with the clothes we wear?
Sometimes we know that change is needed, but we don’t know where to start. We open the wardrobe doors and only find few things we like – we’re disconnected from many of our previous outfit choices and end up picking the same handful of clothes over and over again. Yet we put off reviewing our whole wardrobe because we don’t know what to take out and what to put in, it all seems too daunting. What I do is break down the complexity of this and help clients identify with core colours and styles that they will love to wear: helping them to reconnect with their sense of identity and their wardrobe.
How do you figure out which clothes will suit each person or personality type?
It all comes down to a mixture of my experience in the field, the training I’ve received, my natural (and learned) aptitude for styling, and how I really tune in and listen to my clients to learn about them and their lifestyles.
The first stage is to understand what the client is struggling with. For example, why that recently purchased outfit that looked lovely online or in the stop doesn’t look right on them. Or maybe it’s why they are getting frustrated trying to find something that fits their body shape and doesn’t look frumpy or make them feel older. Some just want to buy and wear something that looks great and isn’t black!
Clients can opt for online ‘chapter’ sessions on a one-to-one basis. We focus on their top priority and each chapter is individually tailored to their needs – it’s not a ‘one size fits all’ process. We might start with a styling change to get a better fit, or open their eyes to other choices of retailers or brands to consider. For others, Chapter One is about finding their core colour choices based on their natural complexion and eye colour.
In the full process, we consider each client’s personality and how understanding its influence can help them make the right clothing choices so that they feel great on the inside and look fabulous on the outside.
How does your approach change when looking towards a special event, such as a wedding?
Sometimes a client doesn’t want a full colour, style or personality analysis, they just need help choosing something with a bit of ‘WOW!’ – with as little stress as possible.
We can streamline the process, although we still need to do the basics in terms of identifying a core palette and tailoring sessions accordingly. It’s a shortened core process which acknowledges the formality of the event, body shape and any cultural considerations. A virtual or in-store shopping trip is part of what we do here to ensure the best possible choice is made, taking account of budget, colour, and style.
‘Dressing for your brand’ is also something you focus on – how important can effective styling be to someone who is self-employed, for example?
Most of us regard our careers as a lifelong learning process and rightly so. Yet, as our careers progress, we rarely review our professional appearance. It’s a fact that first impressions count, whatever your credentials.
Being self-employed is challenging and exciting, with decisions and investments to be made in terms of branding, websites, professional photography, etc. Yet many people don’t consider that their own image needs to match their new position as the boss of their own business – whether to staff, customers, or potential clients.
It’s time to review the professional wardrobe. On my website, I have a selection of business client case studies, each with different circumstances, outcomes and individual feedback of the positive changes made to their professional personas.
Your Mum used to make clothes. Is that where your own love of clothes started?
As a child, I loved watching my Mum make clothes and was fascinated by how the pieces all fitted together. Always jumping at the chance of a shopping trip, stepping into the fabric shop was like entering a magical world of colour. I adored the fabrics, the colours, the textures and the endless bits of haberdashery. My imagination would run away with me as I thought about all of the different styles, patterns and how they would look in real life.
You mention on your website the temporary loss of identity you experienced when you became a Mum yourself, which many women can relate to. How did you rediscover your own sense of style after starting a family?
Clothes had always been a big part of my identity until I became a Mum. Whilst I was happy to put everyone else first, without realising it, my self-confidence began to shrink as my new name – ‘Jerry’s Mum’ or ‘Hazel’s Mum’ – became the norm. I had sacrificed my sense of self. I needed to regain my identity as an individual to be a strong role model for my children, yet I also knew that changes to my body shape meant that my pre-family clothing and style choices wouldn’t work for me anymore.
The gift of a colour analysis session by my husband helped begin my ‘next chapter’. It restarted my journey in colour, fabrics and style and was something for me and only me. With a little guidance, even a few small changes helped my confidence return and I’ve not looked back since. Nowadays, one of the most satisfying aspects of my work is when I can help other women rediscover their own sense of self again.
What would you say to persuade anyone unsure to take the leap and try Next Chapter Styling?
Firstly, accept that you know something needs to change and work to understand what is driving it. Is there some milestone or special event coming up? Do you just not like how you look in your clothes anymore? These are often triggers for a bit of self-analysis, which we might not like to admit is overdue. If you’re bewildered by the choices and don’t know where to start, let’s have a Discovery Call (which is free), to explore whether personal styling is right for you. I’m a real-world person working with real-world clients, not celebrities, so you’ll find me straightforward and easy to get along with.
Your investment in colour and style analysis can really reap rewards. It’s a life skill that you can develop and enjoy using, time and time again – saving you money in the long run as you make better clothing choices and love what you wear in every situation.
What’s the one piece of styling advice you’d give to anyone looking to revamp their wardrobe?
Take an objective view of your wardrobe. Close your eyes, open the doors and then open your eyes – what do you see?
- Too much of the same colour?
- Lots of duplicates/loungewear?
- Unworn garments, still with tags on?
In my sessions, I discuss with clients the 80/20 scenario. This is when we only wear 20% of what’s in the wardrobe, 80% of the time. Those choices are often based on necessity and familiarity – just like a favourite recipe that we know by heart when we have a shelf full of cookbooks and limited ingredients.
But then you fancy a change and go off in search of a little excitement. And a little help getting the right elements together can set you off on a journey of discovery, making things happen that you never even imagined. And that is what personal styling is about: helping you expand and tailor your clothing choices to look good and feel great, whichever chapter of your life you’re in.