The referral to Lizzie came about as part of my employer’s formal annual review process.
It was, perhaps, a slightly delicate subject, but the question arose as to whether I “looked like a potential partner” and the answer was not a unanimous 'Yes'.
I always adhered to the company dress policy dressed “smartly”, but always ended up in comfortable, uninspiring, masculine suits, with flat shoes as I had convinced myself during my teens that I could not wear heels.
It wasn’t that I didn’t know that I didn’t look my best, I just didn’t really have the confidence to do much about it!
Although the feedback hadn't been the easiest thing to hear, I am always keen to grow and learn and if I am given something to work on, I work on it! As such, the company agreed to provide assistance as part of the internal potential partner development process. I was given the details of a number of image and personal brand consultants, and after reviewing the options I chose Lizzie.
I thought I might find the wardrobe review difficult, but it wasn’t as Lizzie is very down to earth, kind, and sensitive in her delivery of feedback. To be honest, nothing that was said was unexpected and I had already been trying, albeit in a not very convincing way, to address the issues at hand.
On the shopping day it felt good to look at myself in the mirror in clothes that I would never normally have worn and to be able to objectively assess the results. I particularly enjoyed being passed things that I would not ordinarily have contemplated trying and giving them a go. I could have refused to try stuff, but there’s not much point in doing something like this in a half-hearted way.
I felt elated after the session. I had a number of bags of shopping, all of which I knew contained clothes that could make me “look like a potential partner”. I also had shoes….with heels…..that would stay on my feet…..in two different colours!
The results have been brilliant. I have a completely new wardrobe I feel comfortable and confident wearing.
I have worn heels to work every single day since I bought them, and I knew that my “relaunch” in the office would not go unnoticed. I got a load of compliments from people who would not normally comment on things like that. In fact, I am still getting compliments, every day as people are still getting used to seeing the new me in the office.
I saw one of the partners in my office this morning, someone who was aware of the process, and she greeted me with “That’s a great outfit.” I smiled and she said “Saskia, whenever I see you now you are smiling. It is like you have this whole new world with your new wardrobe.”
I have been described as “elegant”, which is not a word that has ever been used about me and people have started to notice the weight I have lost over the last four months, which would have been impossible to see under the boring old trouser suits that I used to wear day in day out.
And its not just at work. I was in a supermarket recently, and when I got to the checkout, the lady handed me my change and said “by the way, you look lovely”. I had spent some time in the queue and no one else had received the same comment, so I knew this wasn’t just her standard spiel. It felt good. And actually, in my own way I did look good!
My shopping habits have changed considerably. I now have the confidence to try and then buy things that I used to shy away from. I know what works for me, and do a decent job of assessing the success of an outfit when I try it on. I bought a jacket last week, I tried the smaller size, and immediately knew it would work.
I also no longer feel uncomfortable in shops because I am intimidated by them. In fact, I spent a rather pleasant afternoon in Harvey Nichols recently and did not feel like I was in an alternate universe!
Lizzie is an expert in her field and I wanted to use the opportunity to learn as much as possible. She works hard to understand who you are as a person; her advice isn’t limited to what would best suit your body shape. She incorporates the styles that you actually like into her recommendations which means that the result is authentic and credible and is something that can be built upon.
This process is as much about confidence as it is about clothes. I would absolutely, wholeheartedly, unequivocally recommend Lizzie to anyone who is properly open to the experience. If you are willing to listen, she really knows what she is talking about. You need to embrace the opportunity and see what happens.
Lizzie, thanks again for your time and advice. I know it is your job, but you do it with kindness and a real understanding of the challenges (real and imagined) facing your clients.