15 February 2013

style with cindy

I am a huge believer in life as an educational journey.  Whether it's the books we read, the films we watch or the people we meet, I firmly believe everything and everyone is an opportunity to learn more about our world and ourselves.  In this spirit, I grabbed a fashionista friend and we ventured to a Style with Cindy Style and Body Shape Workshop.

The day long workshop focuses on 'The Secrets of Personal Style' which stylist Cindy Newstead has broken down into three main elements: defining your personal style, dressing correctly for your body shape and using colours to enhance your complexion.  There was homework to complete for the day, and my students will be thrilled to learn that Ms Kafka did hers at the last possible minute in a nearby cafe, gulping down a latte as she shoved the required work into a dodgy plastic pocket unearthed from the bottom of the cupboard.  Yup, it's all about preparation.   

There were eight style students in total at the workshop - all women, from their 20s upwards.  Each one of us had our own reasons for being there.  To be completely honest, I would have liked to have known more about why these other women were there.  Maybe it's the yenta in me, but I am intrigued as to what prompts individuals to take a step forward in the fashion stakes.  What defining moment has led a woman to hand over a considerable amount of cash in order to be told how to improve the first impression she makes?  What causes someone to take such a step in an effort to feel more confident about the person she presents to the world?  FYI Cindy, a bottle of bubbly or two wouldn't go astray. Loosen the tongues and get the participants sharing a few stories about what has brought them to that secret room in Chadstone Tower willing to be hauled up in front of a group of strangers and be told the jeans she is wearing are making her arse look big.   

I did learn a few things from Cindy.  I learnt that my body shape is an 'inverted triangle' (as is my fashionista friend) and that my colour group is 'deep warm'.  I also learnt that 'deep warm' is totally different to 'warm deep'- who knew?  I must admit however, there was a moment when, watching a young woman being draped in a range of colour swatches by Cindy and her assistant/husband Calvin in an effort to work out "the colours that will harmonise with you and bring your complexion alive", I was suddenly acutely aware of the number of starving children in Africa.  That realisation of the slight absurdity and self indulgence of what I was involved in didn't last long however.  It was quickly interrupted by a more 'mature' member of the group having a little tantrum because she wasn't happy with the colour group Cindy and Calvin had declared to be most in harmony with her complexion.  I guess paying to hear expert advice doesn't always mean you're always willing to listen to expert advice. 

And Cindy did give some good advice, most specifically in the area of effective shopping.  My favourite hint for the day is as follows:  When in the fitting room, put on the outfit you're considering, shut your eyes and then open them.  Look straight at your reflection.  If something in the outfit, or the outfit itself jumps out at you, it's a problem.  Why?  Because you should wear your clothes, not the other way around.  I also liked Cindy's acknowledgement that while generally speaking one is far better off spending more money on fewer but better quality pieces, cheap and nasty can fill a spot.

Overall, I think the day was a solid learning experience for me.  It reminded me that the way I view myself isn't necessarily the way others view me.  It also confirmed for me that while a true sense of style is not really something that can be taught, there are some basic guidelines which can help style strugglers make the most of their body shape and complexion.  While lacking confidence in what you look like may not be as tragic as the world's starving children, it can greatly impact on the way others view you, and most importantly, how you view yourself.     

But in the end, what my day with Cindy confirmed for me is my belief that some rules are meant to be broken.  Perhaps that's what style is - an innate knowledge and understanding of these guidelines combined with the confidence to do whatever you damn well please once in a while.

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