Tag Archives: feeling confident at social events

How to stand out elegantly and confidently

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.

At the after party
At the after party

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.

A beautiful friend of family in Ulyana Sergeyenko dress
Beautiful Lyudmila (a bank manager) in Ulyana Sergeyenko dress

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.

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.

 

Ready to embody confidence, be seen and be heard as a woman in business? I invite you to book a complimentary discovery session with me here.

 

 

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6 tips for styling yourself for a glamorous evening event

“Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.”
― Coco Chanel

This weekend I am going to the Secret Cinema special screening of Wes Andreson’s latest film the Grand Budapest Hotel. The dress code is strictly fine evening attire” and women in particular are invited to come dressed in their most glamorous haute couture (my favourite). As exciting as the idea of dressing up in haute couture style may be, looking truly glamorous requires a lot of effort. Some of us may even be a little intimidated by this idea, especially if we are busy, not feeling too stylish or lack confidence to wear glamorous evening wear. Most of us have been there, including myself.

I have discovered over the years that looking stylish and dressing up for events (or any occasion) does not have to be stressful. I invite you to have fun with the process and to help you, here are my 6 style tips on how to make sure you look your most glamorous and confident at any social event.

1. Get in the mood for style

(I know this is an obvious one, but do make sure you know what the dress code on your invitation means.) Once you know what the requirements are, start preparing for the event by getting in the mood for it. Put together a mood board online from images that inspire you – I love using Pinterest – or cut out pictures from magazines of dresses you love, red carpet celebrities and accessories. I, for example, have visited several vintage shops, purely for inspiration. I know how hard it is to find time in our busy schedules for something like this, but it needn’t take long – have a 15 minute tea or coffee break and flick through a couple of magazines. Get in creative mood. Creating a stylish look is a creative process.

My mood board for 1930s haute couture style
My mood board for 1930s haute couture style

2. Know yourself and celebrate what you love about your body

On my recent trip to Paris, I discovered one of the main secrets behind French women’s elegance: they appreciate their natural body shape and know what to wear to flatter their shape (and what not to wear). I am not talking about being critical of your body here. Look at yourself in the mirror and admire parts of your body that you love most. Make sure you know how to show them off. Maybe you love your feminine curves, so accentuate your waist and bust. Maybe you always get compliments about your long legs, show them off with a shorter dress or a slit. Maybe your small feminine shoulders and arms deserve attention, then wear a strapless dress. Similarly, there is a way to balance what you feel is out of proportion.

Cameron Diaz wears asymmetric neckline and full skirt, a perfect way to create balance for a woman with athletic (wide shoulders) shape
Cameron Diaz wears asymmetric neckline and full skirt, a perfect way to create balance for a woman with athletic (wide shoulders) shape

If you are not sure what work for your body shape, consider hiring a personal style consultant.

3. It’s not only about the dress. Think about your entire look

Have you ever been in a situation where you bought a perfect dress but after couldn’t find any accessories or shoes to go with it? I have…

Today, I decide on the style of my entire outfit before going shopping, so I know exactly what to look for. Here are a couple of questions to help you decide what look you want to create.

Decide where you want to make an accent: bold colour of the dress, statement earrings or necklace, bright shoes and handbag?

What mood inspires you: romantic (think lace or flowy silk silhouette)? Classic? Minimalist with clean lines and neutral colours? Bold and daring with bright colours or trendy shapes?

And most importantly, what outfit expresses who you are and your uniqueness in the best way?

4. Make sure you have the right underwear

One of the things I learned when training to be a personal style consultant is that having the right underwear can change the entire outfit. Final preparatory step before going shopping for an evening outfit is buying the right underwear. Go for a fitting with a shop assistant if you are not sure what size you are and what shape suits you best. Consider buying Spanx, especially if you are going for a bodycon dress or very light silk.

5. Remember comfortable=confident

Now that you feel inspired, know what you are looking for and have the right shapewear with you, you can go shopping (or look in the back of your wardrobe if you are a lucky owner of numerous evening gowns). Make sure you can enjoy yourself in your chosen outfit. You are going to the event to have fun. Can you sit comfortably in that dress? Can you have food without feeling self-conscious in a bodycon dress? Can you stand all night and dance in those shoes?

6. Pamper yourself before the event

Book a pampering session for the day of the event to feel like a star on the red carpet. Have your hair and make up done. It’s fun and is a great confidence booster. Last time I went to an event, I had my hair done in Old Hollywood style with side-swept waves, a look I had long desired to try. It made my evening. Has there been a look that you have always wanted to try but couldn’t do at home? This is the perfect time to try it.

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How do you get ready for glamorous social events? I would love to hear from you in the comments area below.

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Ready to become more visible in your career and life and to present yourself confidently and stylishly at any event? Join me on this complimentary discovery session.