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How can I choose clothes when I have a poor self image?
Could you bear to go to a shop and ask advice of a personal shopper? The bigger shops have them and their job is to make you feel good as well as look good. You can be upfront about your budget. At this time of year they would be glad of the custom.
I think this book by Trinny and Susannah is very good. I think you have to be completely dispassionate, see it as an intellectual exercise rather than an emotional one; maybe get a friend to help you work out what your good bits and bad bits are and dress to emphasise/hide them; work out what colour suits you and which you have got to avoid then be completely ruthless in ignoring stuff in the bad colour.
I have had some great experiences with finding a few things online that I think are good and then posting links and asking MNers to tell me what is good and bad.
If you feel confident that the clothes are the right ones and you therefore look as good as possible, in a way it doesn't matter if you think you are attractive or not - you can think 'I am looking as good as I could be'.
I have a friend (in Bristol) who was talking a while back about setting up as a personal shopper/style advisor but specialising in charity shops - she always looks very stylish, and gets most of her clothes from charity shops. I'm not sure if she's still thinking about it, but I could ask her if she'd be interested in a test subject....
Totally agree with Electra's recommendation for having your colours done. Even if you think you look awful in the shape/style of something (bet you don't), you can feel great in a particular colour.
Any trustworthy friends whose style you admire? Ask their advice, and choose someone who's kind. (Because it sounds like you need a boost!)
Having your colours done can be expensive, could be around the £60 mark, but shop round. Fish for it as a birthday present? Honestly, it pays for itself in no time in a way, as you feel you make fewer shopping mistakes, and the confidence boost is just fab. And they concentrate on your face and skin tone, not the rest of you.. so you feel safe. A lot of these colour analysis people do image consultancy/wardrobe makeovers, etc so could offer you tons of objective advice.
Are you maybe trying on sizes that are too big, because they're the ones you think you "should" be trying?
I do that - I'll go into the changing room with sizes that are too big, and it takes a shop assistant to tell me that a smaller one is fine. Which if the shop is big or busy doesn't happen, obviously, and I end up buying something that's too big.
The other advice I can think of is just find something that you really really like in itself, because of the colour or pattern or because it feels nice or some other reason, and then think about how nice it is in itself rather than what you think it looks like on you (a bit like northernlurker suggested).
I agree with Seth - you need to be entirely objective about your body shape and size. Then work from there.
I have a very good self image, but I know what doesn't suit me. I don't let this bring me down anymore than I would allow the colour of my eyes to bring me down.
As they say, it is what it is.
Once you accept your body shape, you can start to accumulate clothes.
Howvever, my advice first would be to start with a bit of grooming. Good hair, polished nails, bright skin all go a looooong way.
And shoes. Nice shoes always improve any outfit. I had lunch yesterday wiht a grilfriend who was just in jeans and white shirt (both oldish) yet she looked great because her jeans were tucked into a fab pair of patent boots.
Or fabrics that you really like for their texture or pattern. I hate the thought of winter, for example, until I realise it means jewel-coloured velvets, wools, pretty silk thermals and mad coloured underwear that nobody but me and DH will see. And it would also mean cashmere if I could afford it...
I don't, I've got other priorities. I hear what you're saying about personal grooming, but as a mother with not that much time, I don't see polishing my nails as important at all. They're in and out of the sink hundreds of times a day, it would be a waste of time.
Yes, I do hear you on that one. But I think clothes are a good start for her. (sorry Riven, talking as if you're not here!) We all need to make time to get dressed each day, it's a given. But doing your nails can be high maintenance, and takes extra time very regularly.