Tuesday, 4 February 2014

My Wardrobe Makeover

Last year I was given the incredible opportunity to be involved in the pilot episode for a makeover TV program, it was never aired because it was the pilot and so only 10 minutes long in total. Being honest I was slightly relieved when I found out it would only been seen by a handful of people as it felt like such a personal experience to share on such a worldwide scale. I first wrote about my makeover experience on an earlier post about one of my memories that really mattered from 2013, and I wanted to share in more detail about my experience with you all. If you want to read my first post you can here: Moments that Matter. The first picture you see is me after the makeover and interspersed throughout the rest of the post are pics of new wardrobe bits so you can see more of what it looks like now, and hopefully be inspired.

This is me after the makeover still in the studio where we were filming! 
It all started when I saw an advert on Mumsnet from a TV researcher looking for people who had got stuck in a rut with their wardrobe and didn't know where to start with changing it. I immediately felt like that described me perfectly. I found myself in this ongoing cycle where having not lost my pregnancy weight totally and returned to the size I had been, I just thought I would make do. Make my wardrobe cope, and I did that by just buying the odd navy item here, a brown one there and some black. As after all black is supposed to be sliming and that way I knew that whatever I brought would go with what I had. I had grown my hair out to make it easier to manage with a baby and a toddler and I had opted for baggier as being better to hide behind.

I don't usually wear heels but its nice to every now and then
when you don't have the school run to do!
I messaged the researcher explaining my current predicament and was surprised to get a fairly prompt response which was followed by a Skype call. I will admit it did seem a but strange to confess my fashion faux pas to a stranger but all the same I needed to break the cycle of dullness that I had become.  Within a few days of initially being contacted by the researcher it was confirmed that they wanted me to be a contributer for the new show and arrangements were made for me to spend three days in London the following week, and a day of filming in my own home with my friends and family too.

It was a really big thing for me to do and I found it particularly hard being a full time Mum usually, to have three full days in London, leaving the house before my husband. It was very strange being on the train on my own, it felt empty and yet peaceful and I managed to read a whole book during the week. Something I love to do but hardly ever get the time to do. I was also reminded about what it was like to be independent without children in tow, finish my conversations without being interrupted half way through by a whining child and to drink my cup of tea whilst it was still hot. I drunk in the quiet peace, realizing that whilst my wardrobe might be in dia need of help I also needed to make more time for me to have some me time. Interestingly one of the things that struck me the most later in the week was watching back the footage of my Mum speaking when she eluded that I had become so focused on my children that I had forgotten all about me. I think she hit it on the head.

This is a glimpse into my wardrobe now - lots of block colour and I never considered wearing white before!
The first day of the process was weird, I met the team who I would be working with all week, was given a brief idea of the what the concept of the program would be - you are what you wear, thinking about clothing with the help of a psychologist and a stylist. I spent all day blindfolded in Debenhams changing rooms being helped to try on clothes, which was very strange. I had no idea what I was trying on, and I found it quite disorientating to stand without being able to see in heels, something I don't usually wear. I laughed a lot, and the suspense of what had been chosen for my new wardrobe then hung in the air all week for me to discover later.

The second day was at home and the filming crew came to my house to film us in our home environment. My boys were not camera shy, and my eldest was very keen to show off his balance bike as he whizzed down the street, and my youngest dug out a plant pot full of dirt in the garden turning to smile at the camera every now and then. The director asked me what I would usually do if my youngest was playing with the dirt and was shocked with my relaxed approach of "I would let him play". They also filmed my Mum, husband and three of my friends talking and answering questions about me. I was pretty nervous about this bit and what they would say, but it was very tastefully edited and I think they pinpointed the issues on the head; I had lost time for me, my clothes were not vibrant like my personality they were just functional and make do, and I had just got lost in my own wardrobe not really sure how to change it.

The third day was in London again and I met the psychologist Linda who made me think more about how I had got into this brown, blue and black rut. My time with the psychologist was really valuable getting me to really think about it all. It had already become very apparent to me that one of the biggest things was that I had become so focussed on my two boys that I had not left myself enough space to be me and think about myself. I no longer had time in the morning to think about my outfit for the day, so I just threw on what I felt comfortable in; jeans and a baggy blue top. I no longer felt like me but I didn't know how to change that. What I saw in the mirror was not someone I wanted to be, nor did it reflect who I was, but I wasn't sure who I was anymore.

The fourth day was a day at home which was much needed with my boys, I had missed them. I needed this makeover but at the same time it was heart wrenching to be so far away from my boys everyday, arriving home just as they were settling down for bed. I felt refreshed and inspired but also so far from normal life.

I love these boots! and you can't really see but the jeans have
coloured strip down the side which make them look really
flattering on, plus they are very thin denim.
The final day, the fifth day of filming came. It was the day that the whole week had been building up to, my earliest start into London rising before the boys were even up, and the day where I would get made over and finally get to see my new wardrobe choices. Arriving in London I found the location where we would be filming, the most unglamorous looking warehouse I had ever seen at the top of three flights of stairs, to be led into a room teeming with sofas and household items of all different types. Not what I had been expecting at all! In the afternoon still unable to see what was fully happening the hairdresser arrived to transform my hair, I knew they would cut it shorter and I was ready to see it go. The makeup lady also worked her magic and then finally I got to try on outfits before the final reveal where my husband, boys and my Mum would be arriving to watch. I was nervous, apprehensive, excited and I had no idea what was in store.

They picked three main outfits for the big reveal, all with heels which I spent quite a while trying to practice how to walk in for the camera. A dress that looked smarter and would work for a party, a more casual coat dress and a pair of red trousers and a white blouse. I really liked all of the looks they gave me and they gave me the red trouser outfit to bring home. It was a fantastic experience and just what I needed but I left feeling a little tired and empty. I didn't get the full wardrobe overhaul that I needed just a new pair of trousers, and I didn't mean to sound ungrateful but I had spent a whole week learning to hate my blue, black and brown wardrobe and I couldn't and wouldn't go back to that. (As a side note if it had not been a pilot I would have been allocated a capsule wardrobe - it just wasn't clear from what they said to me initially that this wasn't going to happen). After sleeping on it I still felt very weirdly about the whole process and I was pretty teary about it all. My husband had reminded me that I had got a lot out of the process and there was no reason why we couldn't just go and take the learning with us and buy me some new clothes. I love my husband.

Shopping with my husband was great and the staff in the changing room were amazing (they found me these fab black heels you keep seeing). For the first time in years I knew what I wanted, I needed colour that reflected me - bright and vibrant. Skinnier trousers were something I had always avoided having big hips but the stylist Darren had taught me that flared trousers and jeans like I had been wearing only drew the eye to them, so tapered trousers it would be. I also needed to buy tops with shape and think about outfits not individual items. It was a really successful trip and my husbands wallet was considerably lighter, this was the start to my new wardrobe.  In some ways I am glad that I put together my new wardrobe pieces rather than the stylist because as a busy Mum of two boys I don't think he really understood the practicalities of what that means clothes wise. I can't wear heels when I am chasing after a three year old riding his bike so fast down the street I can't keep up. Nor is a dress very good for scrabbling around the floor in to pick lunch off the floor. I can however wear a nice pair of tapered trousers with a pretty top and shaped cardigan and a funky pair of boots. During the week of filming I spent most of it wearing spanx which are great for pulling you in for the camera but not something I want to wear everyday!

Then I needed to sort out my hair. I am the sort of person that is all in or all out, I don't really ever do half way, in the middle and thats exactly how I had come to view my new hair. I had been ready for them to chop it all off but instead it was mid-length, not long or short, just in-between. To add insult to injury they had added in a few hair extensions that were pulling on my head, painful even. I desperately googled how to get them out as two days in, I was ready to rip them out of my hair. I didn't, but all the advice also pointed to getting them removed professionally. When Monday morning came by I booked the first hair appointment I could get, removing the extensions and chopping it shorter into a bob. I have since had it cut again even shorter as you can see in the pics!

I am honestly not quite sure what happened in my mind, but with my new hair and looking into the mirror I finally felt like me again, I felt as if I had been hiding behind a dull exterior for too long and I had suddenly been freed. Its funny, I never expected that I would feel like that. Six months on I have cut my hair even shorter and I wonder why I didn't do it earlier. I have re-kindled my love for reading and try to get that much needed quiet reading and refreshing time I need. I also put in time to paint my nails and pamper myself with home beauty things too. I still don't have time to think about what I wear in the mornings, but thats ok because in my head I have put together a series of outfits, so I don't have to put it together right there and then. This experience for me was a fantastic one and I would do it again tomorrow.

The things that I have learnt are these:
- I need to find sometime to be me! I love my boys but to give them my best I have to put some time into giving me some time too.
- Tapered trousers are great but they show up the dirt very quickly (when you have two mucky children) so thin skinny jeans are a really good option for me. Not the thick heavy denim but light and stretchy, and not too tight but flattering.
- I need to think in outfits, if I find something new I have to be able to place it in an outfit in my mind wardrobe.
- Think about colours that go well together and don't be afraid to try on something that you wouldn't usually buy. I have ended up with lots of things I wouldn't have dreamed of trying on before!
- Find brands you like and know the sizing of them then you can order new things from them knowing how they will fit and work in your wardrobe. It also means you can look in their sale stock when you need to refresh.
- Don't be frightened of colour and new things

Everytime I buy something now I have a perspective on it all. Since buying my new wardrobe I am still working out what works best for me. I have this fantastic Kalico jersey cardigan which is vibrant pink and its become my staple item. I like it because it doesn't need ironing, I can just wash and wear it and the shape of it really nips me in. My only problem is that I wish I had brought two, I have worn it so much.
This is the cardigan - the detail around the waist really nips me in!

I really thought at the beginning of this process that I didn't know where to start and that I needed a makeover show to change my wardrobe habits, and perhaps I did. In reality though I just needed some time to get my head around me again, re-vitalize my habits and buy some new clothes, but not just mindlessly buy clothes but make considered outfit choices. Its these outfit choices that have made up mind wardrobe so that when I have no time to think I already have the perfect outfit planned out in my head not just random articles that I somehow throw together.

I genuinely have never felt better about myself and I still haven't lost those extra few baby pounds yet I still feel good. When I wear colour I feel vibrant and bright just like the clothes I am wearing, I feel like my clothes reflect me and my personality. I am sure that there are many women who have fallen into the same wardrobe lull that I did, and I want to encourage you that you don't need to stay in it and you don't need a makeover show to change your habits. You could start with one outfit and work up from there, there are also lots of shops that do personal styling sessions now too which would be a good start.

My only advice is be true to you if your a busy Mum like me don't pick heels you can't wear all day, but also don't be afraid to try something new; a blouse, a different print or colour, some tapered trousers? The possibilities are endless.

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