Just over two weeks ago I was packing my bag for a short weekend break in Lviv, Ukraine. It was late, I was tired and the weather forecast wasn’t inspiring, so I just picked some random pieces, making sure they are warm enough for cold nights I was going to spend outdoors at international jazz festival Alfa Jazz Fest, and zipped my suitcase. I didn’t think more of it. I was going to a music festival, not some glamorous party. Only I forgot that in Eastern Europe any social occasion is a glamorous party. Feeling somewhat unglamorous in my smart casual outfits, I was ready to go into my judgement mode, which happens very often when I travel to my home country. And by that I mean make comments about how tasteless the society is with their love of extreme glamour and desire to show off everything they have in one outfit. Only this time, something was different: I didn’t feel like judging. I simply wanted to observe with an open mind. Women of all shapes and sizes chose very different outfits – from dresses to jeans with blouses and stilettos – and wore them confidently. It would be very difficult to stand out in that crowd – almost everybody stood out in their own way. I quickly realised that, with some exceptions, I was among a tastefully stylish crowd. Still, it would have been easy to find women dressed in a stereotypical over the top manner – you always find what you are tuned in to see. This time, instead of focussing on the few women that stood out for wrong reasons, I decided to learn from being among all these beautiful and very visible women, all judgements against the way the society operates and chauvinism aside.
What I took away from my weekend in Lviv is something I would like to invite women across many countries to consider.
1. Eastern European women are not afraid to be visible
They wear brighter colours, trendy outfits, fitted clothes. They are not afraid of being feminine and being noticed by others. They accept their beauty and show it off instead of hiding it. But looking your best is not so much about attention seeking (contrary to what some may think), it is a mindset.
When we change our mindset, we are able to see that there is nothing wrong with allowing ourselves to be noticed for the right reasons.
2. Looking stylish and feminine does not mean you are not intelligent
At the jazz festival, I met female bankers, economists and high profile advisers, all of whom wore gorgeous feminine outfits. They didn’t seem to worry people would not take them seriously or perceive them as less intelligent if they show off their femininity and beauty in a stylish way.
How often are we muting ourselves or dimming our beauty just because we are afraid we won’t be taken seriously? It is possible to be both – beautiful and intelligent.
3. They receive compliments gracefully
These women attract many compliments because they own their beauty and don’t shy away when someone notices it. They accept compliments with ease and grace, projecting natural confidence. This confidence and relaxed attitude helps conversations flow more easily and deepens connections.
4. Looking after yourself is a non-negotiable
Having lived for the past 14 years in Western Europe, I forgot that making a lot (by European standards) of effort is seen as entirely normal in Eastern Europe. A woman there would’t think twice about booking her weekly beauty appointment, nor would she show up anywhere with unmanicured nails or messy hair. My mother books my manicure and pedicure appointments even before I arrive in the country.
When we as women make self-care a non-negotiable, we show to ourselves (and to others) that we value ourselves.
Upon my return I decided to apply these lessons in my every day life. Last weekend, I had a lot of fun dressing up more than I would normally and felt amazing. Getting ready for a women’s networking meeting I felt inspired to wear some old pieces in an entirely new way and wore my “dressy” shoes instead of trying to blend in. I met incredible women who wanted to talk to me simply because they liked my outfit. This week instead of wearing a casual outfit, I wore my vintage dress to have dinner with girlfriends, inviting compliments comparing me to Audrey Hepburn. I accepted with grace. For my bank meeting this week I dressed on brand (stay tuned for my new brand and website reveal soon!) in a stylish dress and blazer and made a real effort with my hair and make up. The meeting went really well, I felt confident and in the flow at all times even when a bank manager asked me difficult (very masculine) questions about my new business.
Weekend summer style
At Winning Women networking event
The “Audrey Hepburn” dress
After a bank meeting
These experiences helped me to realise that making an effort and looking stylish on whatever occasion I feel called to is not shallow or self-indulgent. It gives me energy, creates new exciting opportunities, enables me to feel confident in a relaxed way and shows that I am worthy, worthy of making an effort for, worthy of being seen and being listened to.
Working from home has many advantages. Not having to get ready and leave the house in the morning, jumping out of bed and picking up your laptop without the commute are only a couple of them, right? Not for me… Don’t get me wrong, I love working from home. I enjoy being in a beautiful quiet environment, being in charge of my schedule, being able to burn my favourite scented candle or have fresh flowers on my desk. But for me, ditching style and hanging out in my pyjamas all day just because nobody sees me does not work.
This week, for example, I had to change my outfit before I could focus on work because it wasn’t right for me. It did not matter that nobody would see me, I didn’t feel good in my sweater dress and pink cardigan, something about that outfit wasn’t stylish, so I swapped the cardigan for a beautiful scarf, which made me feel more elegant. The following day, I felt called to put some jewellery and make up on before a call, audio, not video because I wanted to feel confident and beautiful. I know it made my call go better.
So why bother choosing an outfit and possibly even wearing make up or jewellery when you work from home?
1. It makes you feel good
Looking good helps us to feel good on the inside (yes, it goes both ways), and feeling good makes us more confident. Plus, feeling like you’ve made the effort to do your work puts you in the work mode right away.
2. It increases your self-worth
When a woman makes a conscious effort to look good, she shows to herself that she matters, that she values herself, that she is worth the effort. You are amazing and therefore deserve to be wearing your nice clothes and jewellery just for yourself. And we all know what happens when we value ourselves – others value us, and this translates into financial value too.
3. It awakens creativity
For me, putting together an outfit is a creative process and this always awakens my creativity for other activities. If I need a creativity boost, I wear bright clashing colours or bold accessories. In fact, I started writing this post in my pyjamas (I am the first one to admit I am not perfect), but it didn’t go anywhere until I changed into something more stylish.*
4. It shows integrity
If you are an entrepreneur or a freelancer working from home, helping others to create a stylish business or increase their visibility, confidence and value, walking your talk even when nobody sees you makes you and your brand more authentic and therefore more powerful.
5. You never know what opportunities might come up
Your ideal client may want to skype with you, you might feel inspired to go for a walk in your neighbourhood or have a spontaneous coffee break withy our friend. Be ready to be visible.
I realise I have not fully answered the question about what exactly to wear when working from home. There isn’t one formula fits all solution. For example, I love cashmere (as you may know by now) or silk dresses when it’s warm, colourful wraps or scarves, peg trousers, simple t-shirts with a chunky necklace because these clothes make me feel comfortable, stylish, elegant and ready to do my work. Without knowing you I cannot tell you what exactly to wear because style is a personal matter. What I can tell you is make sure your outfit makes you feel good, gorgeous, high value, confident and unique. If you need further guidance, think what outfit you wouldn’t mind being accidentally seen in by your ideal client.
*Apologies for a lack of photographs in this post, my personal photographer is away this and next week.
Interested in discovering how to increase your confidence, visibility and value to attract stylish opportunities into your life? Book a discovery session here
I am writing today from sunny San Francisco with a huge cup of coffee (it’s a bowl really) on my table, looking at stylish shops, cafes and people around me. All my worries, to-do lists, cold London weather seem so far away, 11 hours of flying time away to be precise.
When I was on the plane yesterday I was thinking how much I actually enjoy flying. For me this is time to relax, catch up on my reading, movies, flick through fashion magazines without any guilt or distractions and simply daydream.
But, as you all know, flying long-haul is not without downsides. It can be very tiring, not to mention dehydrating, bad for posture and leaves us looking far from our best. What makes it less tiring and stressful for me is being comfortable (obviously) and stylish. Why stylish? Because coming out of a plane looking tired, scruffy, with bad skin stresses me out more than the flight itself. Looking stylish helps me to start experiencing my destination (be it holiday or business) immediately. This might seem an insignificant detail but it makes a big difference.
Here are my 10 tips on how to be comfortable during a long-haul flight and stay stylish when you leave the plane.
1. Cashmere. This is my absolute favourite fabric to wear on flights. It is warm, soft and so comfortable. It feels luxurious and looks elegant. It ticks all the boxes. I usually go for a cashmere sweater dress, soft tights and ballerina flats or flat boots,depending on a season.
2. Bring a beautiful warm scarf or pashmina to stay warm. It’s also the easiest way to dress up a plain outfit.
3. Easy to wear jewelry. I usually go for something chunky but light to add an instant elegant touch.
4. Hydrating mist to spray on your face. I love Avene thermal spa water or Julrique hydrating rosewater.
5. I drink herbal tea on long flights and avoid caffeine. We are all told to avoid caffeine on fights. I like to bring my own herbal tea bags, my favourite is currently ginger and orange, in case the airline does not offer what I want.
6. Silk eye mask. It feels so much better against my skin than the masks given by airlines.
7. Essential oils mix to relax and get some sleep. I love lavender and camomile.
8. Journal or notebook to jot down ideas. I don’t know about you but I always get ideas on flights. It must have something to do with being with myself and having the space in my head away from daily worries. Feeling inspired light me up, relaxes my face and body and puts a smile on my face (the best accessory).
9. Dry shampoo to freshen up before stepping off the plane.
10. Is it only me or does dry air on planes ruin everyone else’s beautifully manicured nails? Cuticles become dry, nail polish chips… Neglected looking hands can easily ruin the entire appearance no matter how well dressed a woman is. I use coconut oil or Moa Green Balm to hydrate dry lips, keep cuticles looking neat and any other areas that need extra care.
What do you do to look good after a long-haul flight? Please share your tips in the comment area below.
Just over 10 days ago I took myself on a weekend trip to Paris to celebrate the fact that I have joined the exciting world of entrepreneurs. I couldn’t pick a better destination to celebrate my new lifestyle and career, get my creative juices flowing and treat myself to delicious food, gorgeous views and of course get a much needed dose of style inspiration.
This trip was everything I had imagined and so much more. Traveling solo, I was able to only do, see, experience, enjoy what I desired without having to compromise even for a minute. And what I desired was to discover the secret formula behind Parisian women’s style. I have long admired Parisian chic, that je ne sais quoi (excuse the cliche) that many Parisian women have. To say I was excited to finally dedicate an entire weekend to this subject would be an understatement.
In Paris I engaged in conversations with stylish French women, went shopping and spent hours people watching in cafés in trendy neighbourhoods, determined to learn about the art of style and allure that appears to come from within. Here is what I now know about the key elements of Parisian style.
1. Looking good starts with a mindset
At the beginning of my research I was met with some obstacles. Even French women themselves struggle to define their style, claiming they are not doing anything special to look the way they do. Yet, those women looked very elegant. It is something so instilled in their mindset, in their daily life that they struggle to define it. The majority of women I came across were well dressed, stylish in their own way, one thing they all had in common is how effortless their style looked. Looking good is not something they only do when they have a date or a meeting. Effortlessness in style begins with a mindset.
2. Style can be practical
Many women, especially on weekends, are wearing very casual clothes, yet they still look stylish. Even when I went out in the evenings I didn’t see a lot of examples of full-blown glamour. Understated is an essential element of Parisian chic. “Your outfit can be practical but there are ways to stay feminine”, explains Maryvonne, a friendly and stylish shop assistant at a shoe boutique I visited. She explained that most Parisian women choose low heels (up to 5cm) because they are always on the go. There is even a name for this type of shoe – “Parisienne” – feminine and comfortable. Style has to be practical for a busy modern woman, according to my new Parisian connection. A Parisienne adds a scarf, an elegant pair of shoes or a stylish jacket to transform her outfit from day to evening. This does not require a lot of time and effort (which, let’s be honest, is what puts many women off style).
3. Embrace who you are
One thing Parisian women appear to do very well is dress in the most flattering way for their body type. They know what suits them and what doesn’t and they stay with what works, not being lured by fashion trends every 6 months. My friend Laure, a beautiful young French woman, who always looks chic, tells me over a glass of wine: “I don’t wear short skirts because I know they don’t suit me, I always go for pencil skirts, they work well for me”. This is an amazing level of self-awareness from someone who hasn’t even turned 30 yet. Instead of feeling bad about what you don’t have, be it bigger curves (I am talking to myself here), thinner hips or longer legs, and hiding behind baggy clothes, embrace you shape and show off what you love about your body.
4. Make pleasure part of your daily life
“A perfect macaroon is ‘croquant’ on the outside and melting on the inside when you bite into it, it has to be absolutely fresh”, says Cordelia, my charming shopping guide, a true Parisienne, as we pass by a beautiful patisserie. She is petite and slender and a self-confessed dessert addict. In France they eat desserts, chocolate, drink wine and have cheese. And then there is the bread. I saw women eating bread in very trendy cafés where bread shouldn’t even be on the menu! There is no guilt involved. How do they do it? Well, firstly no guilt means having a healthy relationship with food. Secondly, accepting pleasure as part of daily life means we stop actively depriving ourselves and this alone decreases the risk of overindulgence. They simply know when to stop. The proof is everywhere: I have not seen anyone who is overweight.
5. Inner confidence is key
As I walk around the vibrant Le Marais with Cordelia discovering new boutiques, we talk about the fact that not many women wear bright colours or attention grabbing outfits. She tells me demure is essential for a typical Parisian: a top with sheer back but not sheer front, clean lines, simple t-shirt with jeans and a good quality jacket. Parisians do demure so well. They don’t look too “polished”, they wear mainly neutrals or darks, very few women wear tons of make up, not much skin is displayed. Yet they are not hiding, they are strangely visible and project so much confidence. This natural confidence comes from being comfortable with who you are.
6. Accessories are essential
During the three days that I spent in Paris I do not remember seeing a single person without a scarf! Even small children had stylish scarves on. To be stylish a woman needs to learn to accessorise – there is no way around it. Accessorising is the simplest (and it can be a very cost effective) way to update an outfit, take you from day to evening or add a personal touch and make a plain outfit your own.
7. Elegance and style does not end when you get home
There are numerous boutiques and shops selling beautiful lounge and home wear in Paris. It is elegant and feminine: silky dresses, soft trousers, cotton and wool cover ups (not old pijama bottoms). I learn that French women stay elegant in their homes too. As a newly self-employed working from home, I am determined to embrace this particular style element from now on. Believe me, it changes everything – from the way you feel and relate to yourself to the way you show up with others.