A friend asked me recently to provide styling advice to her boss, who was feeling stuck in a rut and needed a few fashion tips.
I visited her at home, explaining to her that we were going to go through her wardrobe and make piles; things to throw out, things to donate, things to keep.
There I was, fancying myself as the new Marie Kondo, the spectacularly successful author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, expecting to fossick through pilled sweaters, scuffed shoes and clothes that had seen better days.
On the contrary, I found myself admiring closets and shelves full of beautifully arranged trousers, jeans, silk shirts and tailored jackets and neat rows of pristine pumps, boots and sneakers.
My client had great taste, all her clothes were all practical and elegant.
So what was the problem? She had gained weight, in her case more than 10 kilos, due to a stressful work schedule, constant travel and just life in general. And it changed everything.
By going up two sizes, she now felt unstylish, confused and unmotivated. It reinforced to me how just hard we women are on ourselves when we put on a few kilos.
We move past being a Country Road size 14 and suddenly we are fat, we are worthless, we don’t deserve nice new things.
This incredible woman was running her own multi-million dollar tech company and can write code, but she was looking wistfully at cupboards full of clothes that she could no longer fit into and felt like a loser.
I was going to take her shopping, sure, but what I really wanted to do was make her feel better. “I’ll tell you one thing I am not going to do, and that is let you buy something that doesn’t fit,” I warned her.
I needed her to understand that going up a couple of sizes doesn’t equate to failure.
First and foremost, we have to stop thinking of ourselves as a specific size. Just try things on until you find the size that is flattering and fits you well. Who cares what the label says? They all vary so much anyway.
I felt a good place to start was in the lingerie department in Myer (after we had coffee and croissants, naturally).
We chose some fabulous shapewear in nude and black. They were extra large. So what? They did the trick and she looked great.
We then went on a search for jeans. I found some great black Levi’s cut for curvy women, with lots of stretch.
My client reached for the size 14, so I pulled out the size 18 and did a sneaky switcheroo. She tried them on, looked fantastic, and had no idea what the size really was. She just felt smart and comfortable and ready to take on the world.
The day got progressively more fun, as we found silk pants and tops, long line cardigans, stretchy dresses and pretty blouses, a printed bomber jacket and lots of new shoes.
We ended on a high with new pearl earrings, her first Prada bag and several glasses of champagne.
Yes, she might diet her way back into her old wardrobe. But much more importantly, she looks just fine, as she is, right now.