I turn 48 today and feel extremely blessed. I’m happy, healthy, loved, have dear friends, a wonderful family, the best husband, and a precious little doggy. I have peace in my heart because I enjoy life and have learned to appreciate the small things that I’ve taken for granted in the past. I also love my job, which I find rewarding and fulfilling. 

I’ve been in the fashion industry — or “Rag Trade” — for 26 years. I’ve worked in garment manufacture, retail, and I’m now a consultant. First, I was a designer for children’s wear, and then a retail buyer who specialized in ladies wear. Later we moved to Seattle and created youlookfab.com. Instead of continuing a retail buying career, I started my own wardrobe consulting business in a brand new country on my own. I don’t think I’ll be so gutsy again, but glad I had the chutzpah at the time. I came up with a model that helps people with their wardrobe and style on a one-to-one basis — and the rest as they say is history. YLF and my wardrobe consulting business feed off of each other, and are in their 13th year. I have an amazing clientele who are the nicest people, and I happily share my experiences as a fashion professional with the YLF community for free.

I’ve accumulated a knowledge in different aspects of the same industry. And I’m extremely passionate about what I do. I feel a calling to help and encourage anyone who wants to develop and evolve their sense of style and have fun with fashion. I call myself a fashion stylist or wardrobe consultant, but these days I feel more like a style activist.

An activist is someone who campaigns to bring about political or social change, which is what I do in my own small way on YLF. Although it’s much better than it used to be, the fashion industry is still fraught with biases, sexist symbolism, ageism, and a lack of ethnic diversity. The concept of beauty and the ideal body type is based on a very narrow set of ideals that do little to encourage and empower women. Instead, a lot of fashion messaging communicates that there is something wrong with you when you don’t look a certain way. That you can’t feel attractive, look fabulous, dress wonderfully, or be stylish because you’re too old, wide, short, tall, asymmetrical, wrinkled, narrow, grey, round, straight, dark, pale, blemished, scarred, wobbly, hairy, dressy, casual, eccentric, tattooed… and the list goes on. These dated and demoralizing fashion concepts make me sad and angry. With every fibre of my being I believe that we can ALL have a great sense of style.

There is no one way to be stylish, no one way to look beautiful, and no one ideal body type. Style is not an age, dress size or budget. It’s an energy and confidence that is expressed through what you wear and how you wear it. As soon as you say that you can’t – I’m right there, saying, yes you can. Style is a puzzle that can be solved. It is not innate. It can be learned, refined and evolved throughout your life as we enjoy each leg of our style journey.

I’ve helped people find their personal styes across sizes US000 to US34, across heights 4ft 9 to 6ft 4, and across ages 16 to 81. They cover a range of nationalities, ethnicities, and genders. I have blind clients, clients with crutches, clients in wheelchairs, pregnant clients, and clients who have had full mastectomies. I’ve reviewed closets that are larger than most master bedrooms, and some smaller than a coat closet. I feel enormously fortunate to be exposed to a wide cross section of the female population because it keeps my mind open and constantly rethinking and challenging dated style concepts. It also makes me laugh at how fickle fashion can be, and how we must never take it too seriously.

There are no wrong sartorial choices but simply preferences that vary from person to person. There are no rules, but simply guidelines that you can take or leave at your discretion. Body type dressing is one approach, but is merely a starting point that helps you create a set of personal figure flattering priorities. Style is as diverse as the people in this world, and an appreciation for a look that is not your look shows respect and decency. So today, on my birthday, I’m celebrating YOU, your style, your beauty, your age, your love for fashion, and your positive energy. Help me shout from the rooftops that style is PERSONAL and should be encouraged and enjoyed at every size, lifestyle and budget.