Monday, January 7, 2008

Plain Jane Who?

Plain Jane Who?

A few weeks ago I sat in my hairstylist’s chair ready to take another plunge. The first plunge was my senior year in high school before graduation when I thought it would be a nice bonding experience if my dad cut my hair. No, my dad doesn’t cut hair for a living and the last time I had shoulder length hair was when I was about 11 and my mother and I cried all the way home. Anyway, my long brown locks were my signature look. Then in early August of 2007 I needed a change. Initially, I blamed the heat and humidity as the source of my irritability, but honestly, I have a love-hate relationship with my hair. This time, I wanted to go short, really short – No, not the Brittany Spears short, but Audrey Hepburn in the movie Sabrina, or Natalie Portman post V for Vendetta. My stylist listened sympathetically as I showed him pictures of celebrities and with his magic touch gave me a happy medium. Now, four months later, I was ready to go a tad bit shorter. I walked in with my pictures and left in an inspired 1940’s bob with bangs (think Catherine Zeta-Jones in Chicago or Mary J. Blige’s current ‘do). I found a new me.

What really happened that day was an acknowledgement to the real me. I love change. I honor my quirky personality by being a guinea pig for new lipsticks, eye shadow, haircuts and of course, fashion trends. Through this process I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t – moss green eye shadow, no, but purple makes my hazel eyes pop. Capri pants, not so much (well, not a favored a look for anyone in my opinion), but skinny jeans create a long lean silhouette. In other words, change does not mean a sacrifice. It is a personal characteristic.

This past year I have had the pleasure of working with clients who all possessed a je ne sais quoi. Their impressive resume of life experiences spoke volumes but unflattering clothing was stifling their colorful spirit. Take my client Damali Ayo. An artist/activist by trade, she travels frequently giving lectures and workshops. Her suitcase contained non-descriptive “easy” outfits that were safe, and well frankly, plain. When she contacted My Signature Look she said she lost something important to her: her identity. She had gone from wearing urban chic to a jacket and pant uniform in black, grey and navy. An upgrade in the quality of her garments and sophistication would give her that “It” factor, but most importantly, send a bold statement about everything she is and represents. And the reviews have been positive. She now dons clothing that gets mentioned in articles about her – just what every stylist likes to hear! She has even started her own clothing line called CROW (more about the collection in a future blog), a venture she says inspired by her transformation.

Working with Damali and other clients has led me to the conclusion that there is no such thing as a plain Jane or Joe. Our individual talents are expressed daily through dialogue, an instrument, a science formula, a research project, and a piece of art. However, it should not stop at personal appearance. Think of it in terms of the whole package – would you send a proposal without a cover? Would you show up for a job interview wearing shorts? The danger plain Jane’s or Joe’s face is apathy. Financially-speaking aside, a poor appearance says you don’t care about yourself and/or it’s not important. I have a hard time believing that this is true and rather believe it is an issue of capability.

2008 is here, bringing with it an invitation to transform our lives for the better. I challenge you to spend January envisioning a new you or even reclaiming a lost sense of style. Write down your talents and ask how your appearance compliments the same passion you have for that talent. Reassess what you have in your closet (and of course, My Signature Look is happy to help with this process!) and pass along items that don’t fit to someone else and keep those that have potential. This goes for beauty products, too. Observe colleagues, people on the streets, friends, and family members who have that complete package for inspiration. Finally, start mapping out your plan which should include extra time in the morning for assembling a new outfit with existing clothes, coiffing your hair, or applying makeup that accentuates either your eyes or lips. Whether it is a new haircut or wearing a piece of jewelry, the extra effort truly does leave a lasting impression. Who knows what this process may just reveal….