Fernanda, my wonderful client in Mexico City, shares her thoughts, feelings and experiences leading up to our recent styling session. Working with her was a joy from start to finish.
There are two kinds of good luck. Your everyday, smile inducing, happy coincidence kind, and the apparently simple encounter that ends up redefining your life. Just a few months ago, I experienced the second kind.
My meeting with Fate didn’t take place in a restaurant or in a park, but in a more vibrant, lively and visited location: a fashion blog site, hosted by the lovely and uber trendy Angie Cox. Since you’re reading this right now, chances are you’ve already witnessed the jaw-dropping sense of style she displays in her YouLookFab site.
I stepped into “Angie’s place” a little more than a year ago. I had become a random reader of all kinds of fashion blogs, not finding any of them appealing enough to become my daily stop. One day, one of them included a link that led me to the YouLookFab blog. In that precise moment, a great habit was born. Every day, almost without taking notice, I found myself checking YLF not only in complete awe of Angie’s talent for putting together outfits, but yearning to learn the nuts and bolts of creating an outfit in such original and unexpected ways.
To say that I love clothes would be an understatement. I’m spellbound by the way they become an extension of someone’s personality, her interests, even her daily moods. I’ve never regarded clothes as “something” you just put on and carry on with your day. I see them more as a way to find your place in the world: a playful and unique “code” about who you are and how you want to relate to your surroundings.
My love of clothes should be obvious, but few people around me would have guessed it by just looking at my everyday “picks”. Plain, non-fussy, lazy combinations, which allowed me to go unnoticed by anyone, anywhere. Instead, my secret passion for clothes could be discovered just by taking a look at my closet or watching a shopping addiction that over the years has resulted in a mostly unworn wardrobe. I guess I came to believe that every time I got a gorgeous new jacket or a beautiful pair of shoes, I would magically acquire the know-how to make it work with the rest of my stuff, or even the guts to experiment without feeling clumsy or defeated in advance. This quest was, of course, unconscious, and could have been going on forever. It was, in a way, comforting: my “hidden” clothes were undeniably pretty, and I was totally fashion aware. I firmly believed that one day it would all come together, and all my hoarding and compulsive buying would finally make some sense.
It never quite happened, though. By the time I came across YouLookFab, I already had the feeling that my method and my habits were useless and wrong. Once I became a regular reader of Angie’s posts, I knew that I had to stop. There she was: a gorgeous woman with a sense of style I immediately identified with (some of her clothes looked a lot like mine!) whose great style wasn’t based on loud or excessively trendy pieces, but in the practice of wearing things in ways that immediately set her apart from the rest. By watching Angie’s creations, I could only imagine all the things I could do with my clothes, if I only I dared to disobey the “rules”, discard any fixed ideas on how to wear things and finally step out of my comfort zone. I then started to recreate some of my favorite Angie looks. Something as “easy” as a scrunched sleeve or the combination of dressy and casual seemed to work perfectly on her, but somehow felt unnatural and not quite pretty on me. It became obvious that I was lacking confidence, and felt trapped in a rut of boring and predictable looks. This time, however, I was aware of the problem and couldn’t fool myself anymore. I knew I had to take action: a pair of new shoes wouldn’t do.
That’s when lightning struck. It was a day in early November when I felt I’d reached a point where I had nothing much left to lose: either I did something drastic to change my relationship with styling and clothes, or I might as well envision a future of black and grey sweatpants, totally uninspired outfits and an unrequited love for clothes. Feeling both brave and reckless, I decided to write a message to Angie using the YLF contact form. I would briefly explain my dilemma, and ask her if she would consider taking a dive into my closet and help me to see everything in a whole different light. There was something for her to consider, though. Something that I knew could sound downright outrageous, and make my request fall into the “wild dream” category. I happen to live in Mexico City: thousands of miles away from the YouLookFab headquarters, in a country where —I would learn later— Angie had never visited before.
Not only did I get a reply from Angie in less time than it took me to digest the crazy thing I had done, but it was promising and kind. Whatever came out in the end, Angie was definitely open to working things out. I knew from reading her posts that she was brilliant and generous, but nothing could have prepared me for the experience of working with her. Enthusiastic, sensitive and incredibly committed to her talents, she assured me we would find a way to make the issue work. In the meantime, she asked me to describe in detail aspects of my current life relevant to our mission, and asked to envision my ideal wardrobe style.
Thrilled and energized with the prospect, I took time to reflect on things I had never paid attention to before: fear of change, self-defeating perceptions and parts of my personality I hadn’t allowed to evolve and now was eager to express. She also asked me to take pictures of what I considered my cornerstone pieces; before I realized, I was laying my whole closet on the floor of my apartment, taking pictures of every single item, from shoes, to earrings, to dresses, to coats. I was eager to somehow build for her a replica of my closet, hoping that her creativeness would make her want to bring life to what I perceived as a boring wardrobe. That way, I thought, the prospect of coming over to Mexico might seem less daunting and far-fetched.
I like to think my plan worked, since we finally set a date for her and husband Greg to travel. It was, I can assure you, one of the happiest days of my life. Not only because it was the fulfillment of a really wild dream, but because I really appreciated Angie’s willingness in ways I cannot even express. Her efforts to make it work took the experience to a different level.
We still had some weeks ahead, so Angie pointed to me some serious gaps in my wardrobe, and suggested that I fill most of them in preparation for her visit. I happily devoted hours to picking possible options, and sending pictures to her. She would then “approve” my picks (we had so much fun over that!), and I would cross out things from our “missing items” list. One day I found myself choosing things that a few months before I’d not even lay my eyes on: feminine and flirty blouses, a gorgeous red patent clutch, a pair of bright blue Mary Janes. Nothing “imposed” by Angie: just colors, textures and patterns that in a matter of weeks I’d learned to appreciate (and covet).
Painlessly and miraculously, my own sense of style had already started to grow.
Tomorrow, part 2: Angie and Fernanda get to work.