I have decided to write a blog series focused on women, money and body confidence. As a reformed eating disorder sufferer, image consultant and financial coach, I want to share my knowledge, insight, experience with other women, starting with how wasteful a lack of confidence with our body can have a detrimental impact on our financial goals and wealth. The emotional part of our brain triggers emotional purchasing decisions. Just the other month, I ran a workshop in London for a group of women and one of the participants arrived late as she had to return to a shop after work to purchase an item she’d seen at lunchtime. She arrived late carrying a few bags of clothes and she came up to me after the meeting and thanked me for sharing my personal story. After explaining her own challenges of the emotional cycle of spending, and giving her some reassurance that she wasn’t alone, we started to discuss the impact it was having on her financial picture.
The emotional spender
As a teenager, I struggled with huge body image issues which resulted in years of eating disorders. I was conversely trying to control my eating and at the same time was out of control with my money.
I would rack up debts each month on catalogues and store cards (which we popular in the 1990’s!) on clothes. The sad thing is that the cycle of control and bad habits didn’t stop until my mid twenties. So I spent 10 whole years wasting £1000’s of pounds. I anticipate I spent around £50,000 on wasted clothes. It wasn’t until my mid twenties, when I discovered an image consultant that my relationship began to change. I remember picking up a leaflet in a coffee shop on my way to work. I showed it to my fiancé that evening and hoped that would get an ‘image day’ for my birthday. To my delight, I did! A few weeks later I went to see Clare Clarke of Style Matters who gave me advice on my makeup, my body shape, what colours to wear and my personal style.
She came to my home to declutter my wardrobe and left me that day sitting on my couch surrounded by ten gigantic bin bags of clothes to get rid of. I sat down that evening and cried my eyes out. It was like somebody had finally given me permission to get rid of the crap in my life that I had been holding onto to make myself feel better. It literally changed my life. From that day, I made a commitment to myself to build a business that would help women feel better about themselves.
I knew that my journey and my story may resonate with so many other women who have struggled with eating issues. Within 3 months, I had trained and set up my first business Before Meets After Image Consultancy.
One of my first learns about being an image consultant was how to find your own unique authentic style. This can help you to start focusing on your own style rather than someone else’s. It also helps you to make better financial decisions about your purchases rather than wasting money on items that don’t suit you. Think of it like goal setting for your wardrobe! If it doesn’t suit your style, don’t buy! There are a few different types of spending behaviours. Emotion is one of the feelings that drives purchases. If you are an emotional slender what can you do to help yourself?
Reframe the emotion
When you feel the emotional desire to purchase, stop. Think about doing something different. Challenge yourself. For example, walk in a different direction to the coffee shop to avoid that favourite shop. Or if email marketing tempts you too often, filter the emails to go into a different email folder. Challenge the emotion. Give yourself time to think about purchases – Reserve the items, or leave them in your online shopping basket. Go back and make the purchase after giving yourself 48 hours to consider the decision. My relationship with Amazon changed by just doing this one thing! If clothes are your guilty pleasure, think about what you are purchasing and how this fits in with your style.
How do you find your style?
“Fashion says ‘me too’, Style says ‘only me’ ” – Lynn Dell
Many women struggle to find a style that is right for their lifestyle, their age and their body shape. Why do we find it so hard? We are too heavily influenced by what we see around us, through celebrities, friends and family. We also just get stuck in our ways and are fearful to try something new.
Why is it so important to find your Style?
The real benefit of finding a Style that is right for you is Confidence and Comfort. When we stray away from our true style, we begin to feel uncomfortable and can start to feel a bit lost. When you know and understand your style, you will shine. You will look more confident, feel more confident and be more confident. We have all heard of the phrase “Mutton dressed like lamb” and really what this comes down to is knowing your style, shopping for your style and sticking to it. Age is not a barrier to style.
6 Top tips to finding your own authentic style
- Find a role model – Identify somebody that has similar colouring and body shape to you. This is important as you’ll also pick up tips from their celebrity personal stylists! You will probably need to have two separate people. Make sure they are also of a similar age to you to give you style inspiration.
- Create a Mood Board – Cut out pictures from magazines, internet images or Pinterest. This is particularly useful if you aren’t sure what your style is. Focus on trends, what kind of materials and colours are catching your eye.
- Write down words that describe your images – Romantic, Casual, Natural, Classic, Artistic, Colourful, Feminine – This will help you to pinpoint some looks. Use these words in the search bars when browsing online shops.
- Look at two of your favourite items of clothing – Why are they your favourite? Is it the colour/style/cut? There is normally a good reason why you like them. Therefore, make sure you use whatever the reason is when you are constructing your mood board.
- Focus on the parts of your body you are most confident with – This can be tricky! Give yourself some slack and focus on the positive areas. If you find this hard, ask a friend to tell you what they love about your shape. If it’s your legs, emphasis these with a pair of skinny jeans or choosing lighter/brighter colour trousers and skirts to draw people’s attention to this area. Use darker colours to disguise the areas you aren’t so happy with.
- Find out who sells your style. There is little point in popping into Jaeger if you don’t have a classic style – Think of shops that sell your style and stick with them. Sign up to their newsletters and stalk them on social media! You want to be in the know for all their sales and new season launches.
Finding your style will save you huge amounts of money. After creating my own mood board, I de-cluttered my wardrobe. Throwing out all the horrid brown suits and pulling together items that I wore time and time again. My wardrobe was no longer cluttered with items I never wore and wasted money on and I actually enjoyed opening the wardrobe doors in the morning!
Try selling any unused clothes that you don’t wear, passing them to a friend or to your favourite charity shop. With a little effort, you can make some good money on unwanted clothes.
Do you have a story to tell? I’d love to hear from you. Pop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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