First impressions count enormously and I have been lucky enough to have had Primrose Hill stylist Julie Louas explain to me exactly how – and, fabulously, how I can apply her guidelines to help me channel exactly what I want to tell the world on any given occasion through the targeted use of colour and silhouette.
Bliss. I love clothes, accessories, shoes, make-up, and I’m well aware that these can all be combined to create an impression; however, like most women, until now I have relied on instinct, shop assistants and the often toxic lessons of women’s magazines to put together my look, with varying degrees of success. I’m sure that over the years we all learn to dress so that disasters are rare, but that feeling that seems to come from within where you just feel right and sassy and unbeatable – Julie is all about giving you the skills to achieve that through your outfit across the spectrum of needs our lives create for us. Hoping to exude authority? There’s a colour to wear for that. Want to negotiate an agreement? Likewise. It’s just a matter of being let in on the secret.
Julie is a trained stylist with an international clientele. And naturally she is her own best testimony – one glance at her gorgeous outfits tells you that she practises what she preaches. ‘Reveal the most beautiful version of yourself’ is her mantra, which to me is a huge relief – I don’t have the time or energy to try to conform to a beauty standard or to be someone I’m not; I’m me, with the good and (hopefully not too much) bad that goes with that, but being the most beautiful version of myself is definitely something I want to have a crack at. I suspect that most women feel the same way.
Julie offers her wisdom and guidance in a number of ways, including styling for an event, personal shopping, style coaching and wardrobe refreshing, as well as the service she treated me to: colour and body shape analysis. And I have to say that I was so impressed with the experience that I am now applying my new insight to every outfit I wear. The proof of the pudding is the compliments. Julie told me that I would notice more appreciation than usual and it’s true – there seems to be just something better about my look that no one can quite put their finger on (although of course they will now!). Have I been on holiday? Lost a little weight? Nope, I’m just extra gorgeous because Julie has shown me how to be.
So how does this alchemy happen, you will by now be wondering. Well, Julie came to my home with the tools of her trade, including a rainbow of colour swatches. We began by holding them up to my face one by one in front of a mirror and Julie taught me to look critically to see which ones suited me best and which were to be rejected. There are specific signs to look for and once you get the hang of it you are empowered to make the call yourself, which is very boosting to the confidence. Colours that enhance are grouped, and Julie is then able to tell you whether you are best suited to the warm or cool colour group, and then within your group whether you are light or dark. There were certainly some surprises for me, but interestingly, seeing the colours that were ruled out explained why I had never felt my best in my bright pink silk top and also a particular bright blue blouse – beautiful things in themselves but just not easy colours for me to wear. But I don’t have to throw them out – Julie explained how you can wear anything you like, making unsuitable colours flattering through the use of colour elsewhere in your outfit, be it through a scarf or a cardigan, for instance, by creating a buffer zone between your face and the ‘wrong’ colour. So although I would know not to buy those particular tops now, I also know how to style them so that they are still wearable for as long as I want them to be. Alchemy indeed.
Next we moved on to my body shape. Julie was very approving that I already had a sense of how to bring out the best in my classic hourglass and what to avoid. But there are nuances in balancing the silhouette and making sure that the top complements the bottom so that the figure isn’t overwhelmed, and of course, these nuances are different for everyone, no two bodies conforming exactly to type. The neckline is important too as it needs to work with your face shape as well as your body shape; luckily for me my face and body both demand the same style of neckline but I am sure Julie would know exactly how to balance any combination of face and body. It has to be said that she is clearly thoroughly and brilliantly trained but obviously her eye for detail and what is exactly right for the individual to wear is an innate gift; I would suggest that being French helps with that too.
Finally, Julie helped me put together an outfit for an event I was attending that evening, a dinner at the House of Commons. I wanted to look sensible and serious and fitting for the formal surroundings, yet simultaneously feminine and pretty (I hesitate to say that but what woman doesn’t want to look pretty?). Julie took just seconds to pick from my wardrobe a navy slimline dress and my navy blazer, to be accessorised with a mustard, blue and green chiffon scarf (I know, sounds unlikely but it’s Alexander MacQueen and a beautiful thing) which brought flattering colour to my authoritative and formal navy. With my green bag and snakeskin shoes, I was all set and felt a weight lifting from my shoulders that I didn’t even know was there. It also saved me a good hour of trying on everything in my wardrobe before settling for the first thing I had tried, and then ages the next day as I put away all the clothes I usually strew about the place during my increasingly frenzied attempts to get it right. So not only did Julie put together the perfect outfit for the occasion, she saved me masses of time as well.
The next day I applied my new rules to my trip to the library to hear Genevieve Fox’s talk on her book, Milkshakes and Morphine. Skinny jeans, a black top with bold cream embroidery, my leather jacket, aforementioned scarf and snakeskin shoes, and I felt like a million dollars and just right for a literary evening. For someone like me who loves clothes and really does want to get it right, Julie’s guidelines take away the angst and allow confidence to flourish, making style and clothes should a pleasure and an enhancement.
If Julie’s work is to help us use our look to send exactly the right message to the world, well look out world: I am going to be speaking very clearly to you from now on.
Julie can be contacted via her website or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
© 2018 Joanna Reeves, all rights reserved.