I’m fresh back from Copenhagen and been thinking about life journeys, style journeys and the wonders of technology for forging real connection in a virtual world. I went to visit a styling client I’ve been working with for several years. Over those years we’ve both clocked up a dizzying array of home countries, explored new career opportunities, waded through depression and high-fived each others wins.

Finding ourselves both in Europe and a direct flight apart, she suggested I come visit her for a thorough wardrobe clear out and I suggested we take the opportunity to shop in person, rather than online for a change. We had a blast, but what truly blows my mind, is that this is the first time we’ve ever met. Technology really does connect and not just superficially so.

Magasin du Nord

Magasin du Nord

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When we returned to our Balinese home at the end of our UK the summer, eight weeks of constant moving, emotion, comfort eating and lack of exercise took its toll. My joy at being back, was tempered with the realisation that we had only three months before our permanent move back to the UK to launch Fox & B, the womenswear label Denise and I have created. I’m excited to launch this new business, but also rather overwhelmed by the amount left to do in this short few months and shaken by the depths of my sadness at saying goodbye to the life we’ve created here, to the kid’s school and to the vibrant community that surrounds it and, perhaps most of all, to my business partner and friend of twenty years, Denise and her family, who took a big leap of faith to join us here, and who I know, I can never coax back to the UK.

Back in Bali, but slipping into depression

Back in Bali, but slipping into depression

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If you read Part 1 & 2 of Ditching the Mum Tum, this is where I hit my first hump in the road. I blew three months of good work attending classes at Motion Fitness, the moment we landed back in the UK for our eight-week summer holiday. It was great to re-connect with friends and family, but exhausting being the constant house guest, living out of a suitcase, moving every week, working throughout and tag-teaming with Roland to keep the kids entertained on the long school holiday. Healthy eating and exercise went out the window.

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Ditching the Mum Tum – Part 2

01st November 2015 | Fit & Slim | Share

Mel putting us through our paces at Motion Fitness Bali

Mel putting us through our paces at Motion Fitness Bali

 

So if you read my last post, you’ll know I’m on a mission to lose the chub, that I discovered Mel Bomba’s Motion Fitness and that I’m hooked! (more…)

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In my last blog post I promised to share some of my own personal journeys and I’m jumping straight in here with my current quest to get in shape and ditch my mum tum.

This is a challenge for me because I love food, I hate exercise and I’ve tried (and failed) many times to reverse the creep in dress size over the past decade. I got away with it in my twenties because I’m naturally a slim ‘vata’ type build (more on Ayurvedic doshas another day if you’re interested). In my thirties the tide turned, my metabolism started to slow. I was diagnosed with Adrenal Fatigue and banned from strenuous exercise (not that I ever did any!) but two pregnancies took their toll, my size crept from a UK 8-10 to a 12-14 and I had no way to work it off. I did what was allowed, swimming and walking, I cleaned up my diet too, but the weight didn’t shift. What I’m doing clearly isn’t enough.

Now in my forties and living in the tropics there’s nowhere to hide. Its a beach and pool lifestyle. You can’t cover up. Its too hot! It doesn’t help that Bali is the land of the body beautiful. They’re everywhere in their string bikinis and pneumatic boobs, frolicking in the sand with their cute kiddies, zipping around on motorbikes with babies strapped on their backs and I feel like a big, old, saggy mum. It doesn’t matter if this is really how I look, because its how I ‘feel’ and I am sick of it!

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So, I’ve been tiptoeing around my blog and social media accounts for, well, too long and today I’ve had something of an epiphany. My whole service, my whole reason for doing the work I do as an image consultant and personal stylist is to help women find their true style and, in doing so, unlock their true potential, but here’s the thing…how can I expect my clients to expose their true selves to me if I won’t first share my true self?

Now, I’ve been doing this work for 13 years and back in the day I used to travel to every client’s home, all over the country and spend a day, doing their consultation, assessing their body shape and colouring, getting to the nub of their personal style, then ruthlessly weeding every unflattering or un-‘them’ item from their wardrobe before working out the gaps and creating a comprehensive Wardrobe Plan of exactly what was needed to give them their perfect wardrobe and style. I am nothing if not thorough.

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The beauty of a style rut

23rd February 2015 | Thoughts | Share

image from news.instyle.com

image from news.instyle.com

 

Oh my god I hate it all! I feel literally no enthusiasm for anything in my wardrobe right now. Okay minus my new JasperLiving shorts set, but that’s it. The last time I felt such intense ‘burn it’ emotion towards my clothes was aged twenty-one after a gap year backpacking around Australia. I never wanted to see them again. We’d spent too much time together. It was over.

On reflection there are more than a few similarities between my situation now and then. Here I am 20 years later approaching the end of a 15-month sojourn living in Bali with my husband and two young daughters. It has been the most amazing, life-changing experience, not quite the same amount of Jaegermeister shots, but I am definitely different to who I was leaving our Brighton home twelve months ago.

So I guess its a good thing to feel this rut, because I’ve helped enough clients out of theirs to know that a style rut means I’ve moved on. There’s been an internal shift and the old clothes and accessories – the ones I loved so much that they made the final suitcase edit – no longer fit the person I feel like inside.

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Why the world needs authentic style

23rd February 2015 | Thoughts | Share

image from grownup shoes.com

Every stylish has their own ‘thing’ that kinda trademarks their work. Some bring a sexiness to each look, some androgyny, some tend towards minimalism or layering or a retro vibe. I never had one. I mean I have elements that remain constant within my own personal style, but in my professional capacity I never had a trademark look and early in my career this bothered me. I felt it indicated a lack of strength somehow that I wasn’t stamping my mark everywhere. I couldn’t choose one look that I returned to again and again. I was interested in them all.

Now, I see how this apparent lack was actually my strength. I love to play with colour and texture and mash up references like all us stylists do, but it doesn’t sustain me without a person at the centre. Not a model or a celebrity ‘brand’, but a many layered person with an emotional stake in their style. I loved and still appreciate the creativity of fashion styling, but I was bugged by the feeling that I wasn’t helping anyone until I fell into personal styling. Thank god for the Patricia Field’s and Grace Coddington’s of this world. They make life so much more beautiful and inspiring, but my gift, I now realise, is enabling people to express their own authentic style in a way that is as beautiful and inspiring as any fashion spread. If they come out the other side feeling more connected to their own uniqueness and beauty, that gives real meaning to my work.

#truthbomb from daniellelaplante.com

So I guess my trademark is ‘authentic’ style and that feels good to me as authenticity is one of my core values. When we’re authentic we live in line with our own values and are more likely to follow our own path. Success, personal or professional, based on being authentic, feels deeply satisfying as opposed to the ‘empty success’ of achieving what we thought we ‘should’ do or be in life. Being yourself rocks!

Approaching how we dress from a place of authenticity is a great way to stay connected to who we are right now as we evolve through each stage of life. We need to know what suits our body shape and colouring and it’s fun to explore new trends and be inspired by beautiful design, but doing it all from a place of “Is this me?” is key.

Some Reasons We Need Authentic Style

  • Authentic style can help us stay self aware and live life according to our own values.
  • Its much more fun and satisfying than following a formula or style dictat.
  • Authentic style is inspiring. Every style icon has authentic style.
  • Being yourself inspires others to be themselves too and the world becomes a more interesting place.

Two reasons we become inauthentic or stop being true to ourselves:

  1. We are in thrall to other people’s style. This tends to happen when we’re younger and still figuring out who we are. Just think of all those ‘Get the Celebrity Look’ magazine features
  2. We go through a major life change like having kids, breaking up, moving abroad or changing career and we emerge a different person. We evolve and move on, but our wardrobe and image don’t. (This is the main reason new clients contact me for an image consultation.)

I hope this has given you some insight into authentic style and why it matters. When have you felt your most ‘authentic’? Have your most outwardly successful moments been your most inwardly authentic? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Leesa x

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