August 10, 2008

On spending the day at the Expo

The magazine I am the Fashion Editor for hosted a family expo yesterday at the mall. It was a great event, and felt like it was Christmas...SO MANY people at the mall!

I was fortunate enough to be asked to work with Goodwill Industries on a fashion show. The people at Goodwill were great to work with - and honestly, I was shocked at the great things I found at Goodwill! Admittedly, I am not a bargain shopper. Plowing through bins of clothing, launching off on a quest to discover a great find at a discount store - well, it isn't me. I wish it was (I would have more money in my bank account for sure!). While spending the time going through bins and racks at Goodwill - I was able to find some of those great vintage pieces. The kinds of things that make me understand those of you out there who love the thrill of the hunt.

Being a part of the expo meant more than just producing a great fashion show. It also meant being at the mall, at a booth, for 12 hours. Ya, I am still tired.

While I was there, I was able to see a lot of different interpretations of what is fashionable. There were various takes on trends I haven't yet seen on the runway....or, were on the runway way before my entrance into the fashion world.

All of this was very interesting to me...

I know that for some women, they simply do not care. I don't understand that. How can you not care? By not caring about your appearance, and not taking time to look the best you can - what message are you sending to your family? To your husband? To your kids - especially to your daughter?

I had a short conversation with one of these women yesterday. She (we'll call her Jane) came up to my booth with one of her friends. Her friend grabbed my business card and exclaimed "I need your help! I will be calling you!" Jane announced, "I just don't see the point. I mean, I watch What Not To Wear, and there is no way I would ever spend that kind of money on anything. If I had $5,000 I would buy a newer car". OK - with that, I should have let it alone...but I couldn't. The reason I do what I do, is the look on the face of a women like Jane...when I get her in an outfit that fits her. Something that is still inside of her comfortable style zone, but something that makes her look amazing.

I replied "That show is more of an extreme example of possibilities. You wouldn't necessarily have to spend that much money to make yourself over. Really, just knowing what your shape is, and learning the styles that look best of you is what it is all about. And you can learn that without buying any clothes"

Jane said, "But why do I care? If people don't like me like I am, then I have no time for them. I'm not married, and I would never marry some dude that was only into it for my looks." - said while wearing a calico printed top, blue jean overall shorts, floral socks and keds with holes in them. I will say that her last comment stopped me in my tracks...shocking.

I commented, "well, looking your best isn't just for the people around you - it is also for you!"

Jane snapped back, "I just don't understand it all"

Which is what I think the bottom line is. Women who don't have the inherent fashionista gene, or who weren't raised in a family with girly girls really don't get it. I have a lot of customers who fit this profile. These ladies admit they wish they did get it - but they don't. I think everyone wants to look their best...even if they don't want to admit it.

What do you think? Are you one of those people who just don't get it?


kathleen said...

Frankly, I don't care if my socks match -each other- much less my outfit. Some of us have other priorities like the betterment of society. We aren't so narcissistic to presume it really matters what we look like, only what we do. Long after I'm dead, the content of my character will be measured by my accomplishments, not what I wore.

Kathy Friend said...

Kathleen – I’m sorry, but I just don’t see how this comment will help anyone?

The whole idea of 'first impressions" is co critical in business - I am so sorry you don't understand that. Let's say for example - you come to me for wardrobe coaching advice...I show up for that meeting wearing pajama bottoms and an old stained tank top. What kind of first impression are you going to have about my skills as a wardrobe coach?

My job is to help women be the best they can be…to the best they can with what they have…and do this via clothing. MANY times if I can get a lady into something that looks amazing on her – instantly she will stand up taller, put a smile on her face, her whole attitude changes…THAT is why I do what I do! Has nothing to do with being narcissistic – furthermore, I don’t see how wanting to look my best (or helping women look their best) is narcissistic. Aside from what I do for a living, I like to look my best not only for me, but for my family, for my husband, and for my friends. I think I can speak for a multitude of ladies out there when I say that when I feel good in what I am wearing, I am a much happier – more confident person. I think we ALL can think back to a time when we wore something to work, and couldn’t wait to get home to change clothes (because we were not comfortable in what we were wearing).

Here is a little story to further illustrate my point.

Several years ago, I met a woman who is an executive in a male-dominated industry. She isn’t one to care about what she looks like, much less care about what she wears. She hates shopping – would never try anything on – would purchase the biggest size, assuming that would at least fit.

She did not come to me as a customer – she came to be with a friend or hers. She observed what I was doing to help her friend – and started asking questions.

Fast forward a few weeks…I got her to wear the proper size (2-3 sizes smaller than what she was wearing). She calls me and told me that she was getting compliments from co-workers – people were asking her if she had lost weight. She was able to be confident in a presentation at a board meeting – something she had been struggling with for years. After 25 years of marriage, for the FIRST TIME – her husband told her that she looked beautiful.

Now – do you think this women’s confidence was boosted by just wearing a few new outfits – YES. Her career felt better, her marriage felt better, she felt better…all because she got a few new pieces of clothing in her closet.

…and this is not narcissistic.

Anonymous said...

I think your job is amazing. I love that you really do not focus on the outward, but you focus on bringing out the best in women by STARTING from the outward. I know you and I know that you would never want a woman to become self-obsessed because of their own appearance.
That confidence can only come sometimes when a woman feels she can face herself and face others. I am proud of you, and I get your vision. I like it.

Ashley J. Bennett said...

Kathy, I just met you the other day, and I have to say (from first hand experience) what Michelle said here is right on. Sometimes people scream narcissism because of their own laziness. To imply that you are (narcissistic) is simply wrong; clearly this person does not know you. I look forward to seeing you again!