Have you ever seen The Voice on TV? I haven’t watched it for a while. Even though I enjoyed the first couple of series, I had to stop tuning in.
While I loved to observe amateur singers taking their place on the stage and refining their skill into something astonishing. The elements I couldn’t bear were the group performances. Particularly, when the coaches decided to ‘show them how it’s done’ by collaborating with (or attempting to outperform) each other in an ensemble piece.
Witnessing a bunch of divas attempting to out-move and sing each other is toe-curlingly embarrassing. I’m not in the market for TV shows that involve Jessie J warbling out top C, while, simultaneously, twerking so as to divert all the limelight from Will.i.am. Urgh.
Why am I raising the subject of a less than agreeable viewing experience today?
Well, you might find this odd. But, I see the same thing happening in my clients’ wardrobes and with their outfit choices. I believe ‘Jessie vs Will’ works as a great analogy to clearly illustrate how things are going wrong.
Because, you may not know it, but you have a collection of divas lurking in your wardrobe. By this, I mean anything bright, sparkly, highly-patterned, or just ‘special’. And, when you let these sartorial attention seekers fight it out in the same outfit, a similar toe-curling, eye-watering thing happens. There’s just too much competition for the spotlight.
So, what’s the solution?
One of my favourite ways to style clients is to use one spotlight piece as the basis for a complete outfit. Instead of letting the diva item fight it out with other equally eye-grabbing garments, this allows the show-stopping, high-kicking item to take centre stage.
But, how does this actually work?
Many women confide in me that they wouldn’t dare wear a red lip, a leather skirt or leggings or a print.
I’ve learned that it’s because they haven’t yet categorised this lipstick, print or leather as a diva piece and figured out how to let it take all the limelight.
For example, one client had hatched the idea of wearing leather leggings. She’d tracked some down but was quite shy about ever wearing them out of the house. I showed her how to style them in a more casual way. Instead of pairing them with high heels, a clingy top and a face full of make-up, I suggested a loose, cosy sweater and a block-heeled ankle boot. Suddenly, she felt comfortable in them and developed the confidence she needed to hit the streets in her lovely leather.
Another client contacted me wondering how to wear a red lip. She knew she had the right colour, but every time she tried to wear it, she felt closer to Lily Savage than Liz Taylor. It just didn’t look right. I explained that she needed to tone down the rest of her make-up, especially the blusher, to allow the lip to take the spotlight and do its thing.
Many, many women are partial to the idea of wearing colour or print but experience crashing confidence when it comes to actually doing it. Allow that bright top or dazzling handbag to be the spotlight piece of the outfit and it becomes so wearable.
If you still can’t quite go for it: any top is easily toned down by adding a neutral coloured cardigan or jacket so all that can be seen is just a central strip of ‘wow’ down the middle.
You don’t have to wear bold pieces, but if you’d like more drama in your look, or you nervously crave more fashion-forward or interesting pieces, this is the way. Try using my one spotlight piece idea and see how it feels.
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Great tip Helen. Going to give the red lipstick with quiet everything else a go tomorrow and see what happens! Funny how the leather leggings feel effortless but red lipstick feels terrifying. Let’s see how it goes.