“I turned 50 four years ago and my body has undergone a horrible transformation that means I no longer recognise it and have no idea how to dress any more” …
This was in Ali’s email to me and here is her story in her own words.
The day of Ali’s Style Experience, November 2019; she also had a red scarf wrapped around her neck so she was completely covered from top to toe in her ‘comfort blanket’.
“Gosh! Where do I start? I guess, in the words of Julie Andrews, at the very beginning. Actually, it’s pretty boring. I had a normal upbringing with supportive parents, in a standard Leicestershire village. I did okay at school and was generally what most people would describe as a “good girl.” I went off to London to train as a nurse and according to my mother went “off the rails” while I was down there. By that she meant that I had my hair cut in a very short, spiky style and wore black!! Not exactly a rebellion of epic proportions.
I qualified as a nurse and moved back to Leicester, got married, had twins and then another son all within four years of getting married. Fast forward to my 40th birthday and at this stage I had three sons, three dogs and three jobs. Fortunately, I only had one very unhappy husband, whose mood became the deciding factor in how well everyone in the house’s day went. It was not a good time!
Call it a mid-life crisis, a crossroads, a rebellion or whatever other phrase springs to mind. I call it an awakening. Ana awakening to the fact that half my life was over and I didn’t feel I had exactly set the world one fire. The situation at home had sapped my confidence to an all-time low and I felt utterly invisible. As if my life was defined by a circular route that seemed to take me from the washer to the tumble dryer and back again via the sink, with only a break to go to work in between.
So, I set about changing that. I booked to go on a dog holiday on my own, signed up for a half marathon and started running, did a master’s degree, did a 140 mile walk for charity, started weightlifting, started coaching Crossfit and qualified as an Olympic lifting coach. I left my husband and met my soulmate. I was at the peak of my mental, emotional and fitness world. I looked and felt better than I ever had in my life.
Fast forward to age fifty and things started to slide. I was finally with the man of my dreams but I badly injured my shoulder and that all but ended my weight lifting. A change in career meant I had to stop all my coaching and reduced my exercise as a whole. The menopause hit and I watched with dismay and a complete lack of control as my waist line expanded exponentially. Don’t get me wrong, I had started eating really badly, had switched to a totally sedentary job and was content in my new found life as a wife again. Add in that my policeman husband could represent England in the biscuit eating Olympics and the die was cast.
As my weight and waistline increased my confidence declined in equal measure such that by the end of last year, I was so ashamed of how I looked and felt that I hid under increasingly large and shapeless clothing that swathed me in folds of material from my neck to my shoes. I was hiding within a comfort blanket. (See photos of Ali in her ‘comfort blanket’ clothes)
Then I saw a blog about Jo on a blogger I follow on face book, Michelle from Fifty and Fabulous. She’d written such a positive piece about her experience with Jo that I picked up the phone there and then. https://www.fiftyandfab.co.uk/blog/positive-image-coach-review-colour-stylist-high-wycombe
Jo was fantastic on the phone. So warm and friendly and we just had a laugh and a chat like we were old mates. I booked to go down and see her two weeks later.
From the very outset Jo made me feel relaxed and comfortable. She asked lots of questions about me and I had to take a number of things down that were special to me and reflected my personality. Jo drew round me on a large piece of paper and showed me my actual body shape. Not even a tenth as bad as I thought my shape was. She taught me that no matter how much extra weight we carry, our basic body shape doesn’t change. This is called Body Mapping.
She showed me how tiny tweaks in the shape, hem length and style of the clothing I wore made huge differences to how I looked (see photos – just the sleeve length is adjusted here but it makes Ali appear taller, slimmer and adds shape)
Before Adjusted sleeve
It was an absolute revelation to me. At the end of the session Jo set me homework to look at what was in my wardrobe that did and did not apply to the guidelines she’d given me. The advice I received during the consultation was followed up with a unique and totally personalised bound booklet a week later that reinforced Jo’s teachings.
Jo’s promise of unlimited support was exactly as she said it would be and I spent many an hour in changing rooms over the next few weeks sending Jo pictures of outfits I was trying to see if I was following the rules she’d suggested would work best for me.
Did I go home and clear out my entire wardrobe? No. Did I go home and throw out the things that didn’t fit me anymore that I hung onto just in case I lost weight and got back in them – yes absolutely. What could be more depressing than looking longingly at clothes that don’t fit you anymore every morning when you go to get dressed? Am I gradually replacing clothes that aren’t the right shape for me as I go along? Absolutely! But with my new set of “rules” it makes shopping much more focussed and a lot less impulse buying. So it’s ultimately cheaper. I’d already had my colours done a number of years ago so new what colours suited me best. Now with my style rules too it makes shopping so much more focussed.
Jo taught me that looking in the mirror and thinking “that will do” is simply not acceptable or good for your soul, self-confidence or inner goddess (for the fifty shades fans amongst you).
Since going to Jo I have changed a lot of the clothes I wear and the styles I buy. I’ve sold or charity shopped all of my comfort blanket clothes and have started to seriously weed my wardrobe. I’ve cut my hair shorter and toned down the blonde and it’s so much better for the shape of my face – another Jo suggestion. I’ve had so many comments on it. I feel more confident in my clothes and seem to be making much more eye contact with people and smiling more. This in turn has resulted in people smiling at me more which increases my confidence further. And so the cycle goes on. This week I went to a training day on my own and normally I would dread the networking bit at break time and lunch. Instead I found myself smiling at people who then came over to talk to me. I left the meeting with two new business contacts and someone who wants me to join a network to try and change practice in the NHS. I would not have managed this with the way I was feeling before I went to Jo! I wanted to be invisible. To fade away. Have I lost any weight since I saw Jo? I’ve lost 2lbs. Not exactly going to change my body shape is it? Do I look and feel different in my clothes? A massive yes!
I honestly cannot tell you what a difference a day (with Jo) makes.
I would thoroughly recommend any woman who is having a crisis of confidence, is struggling to find their style as they progress through life or just needs to feel good about themselves to go and see Jo.
It’s also imperative that you have your colour analysis done as this can absolutely make or break how you look and feel and fortunately for you, JO does this too and is a master at making colour work for you.
I’m going back to see Jo on one of her makeup sessions as I want to learn some new tips for updating my makeup to complement the new me. I totally believe you can teach an old dog (like me) new tricks! I’m also going because it’s just such a joy to spend time with Jo.
Thank you, Jo, – you’re a star!
Ali’s story, part two coming soon….