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by Lauren Manville

New research suggests that females are statistically suffering from workplace stress, particularly in women within the 30 – 40 year age bracket. The statistics taken from the Health and Safety Executive department, suggests that 70% of women are more likely to suffer from work related stress.

Psychiatrist, Dr Judith Moring called it the ‘Do-it-all generation’, and believes that the pressure to maintain “traditional women’s roles” despite a revolution in the workplace was taking its toll.

As a stylist and designer with a background in therapy, I’m all too aware of the numerous pressures that women face including children, elderly parents, their own health and harsh environment of the workplace – these are just a few general factors that can start to erode women’s self esteem - and one of the first places this can be reflected is how we start to dress.

My aim is to empower women, increasing their confidence more than just updating their wardrobes with the latest trends in fashion. We, as women have so much to deal with on a day to day basis that our self-esteem and confidence can take a knock-back so easily. Whether a big life altering event like cancer, divorce, bereavement or everyday changes and challenges that make us feel delicate and can often lead us to feel deflated and look defeated. I work with women who need a boost, feel a little lost and those who are ready to embrace a new and exciting chapter and this can be at any age or stage. The bespoke service brings the client to a more motivated sense of connection with their wardrobes, inspiring a renewed sense of self and strength to move forward with an aspect of their lives. Ultimately I want women to feel and look great!

Here are some top tips on how to use your wardrobe to help smooth away the dark clouds and to shine bright!

Do try to wear colour

Apart from a couple of gloriously hopeful sunshine filled days, we seemed to have been experiencing the longest winter ever. The grey and bleak weather can draw you to wear black and grey on a daily basis. It’s easy - I get it. However psychologically it is having an effect on you. Being surrounded by these colours throughout the day only adds to the dark atmosphere and sense of gloom. Give yourself a helping hand by injecting even the smallest amount of colour and watch it alter your outlook and attitude and even attract positive people around you. Seek out a colour consultation - it will work wonders for you.

Planning the creative process

If you have a big day make sure to plan your outfit, unless you have a fail-safe go to that makes you feel confident and empowered. Otherwise take 15 mins the evening before and put together a look. There’s nothing worse than rushing to get ready in the morning, not feeling like you’ve quite cracked it and then spend the whole day feeling a little uncertain and insecure - it will show across your face and in your body language and there’s a very good chance you won’t be as forthcoming in brainstorming meetings/ social interactions/ family catch ups etc.

Be strategic

For an important meeting use a colour pop piece to make you stand out. Wear your ‘wow’ colour or alternatively if you haven’t had a colour consultation and don’t know your wow colour, wear a colour that will compliment the aim of the meeting. For example, red for energy - to get you fired up. Blue will allow you to feel calm as it releases oxcytocin. Green for bringing about change/ progress so a safe choice for a meeting - the kind of green to go for does vary between skin tones though. Essentially pastels for a summer, vivid green for a spring skin tone, khaki for an autumn and bottle green for a winter”.

Understand your shape

Know your shape and dress accordingly. Sometimes we view ourselves in a way that doesn’t remotely represent the truth. Whether that be that we are massively over critical about an area of the body that we don’t feel particularly confident about or perhaps not dressing to the right proportions. Learn what flatters and what to bypass. And try your hardest to see yourself as a full package. It’s so easy to see the bits we don’t like and only hone in on that, but we are the sum of our parts!

Be discerning with fashion

Don’t feel the need to jump on a trend whether it be the colour of the season or a certain cut your favourite designer is doing. By all means take inspiration, but wear what makes sense for you in your lifestyle and shape. If the colour works for you, go all out. If not, don’t force it. Take inspiration from details in seasons.

(Practise makes perfect) - Get dressed up!

Get really dressed up once in a while - go all out – it’s good for the soul! Why do you think kids do it so often – it’s fun! Also it’s good to check in with what dressy pieces you have - which you need to sling and which you can reimagine in a different outfit combination

Avoid too much black

An incredibly popular colour - we all wear it, It feels forever chic and effortless which it absolutely can be - you don’t have to avoid it entirely but just be careful where you are wearing black. Only those categorised as having a winter colouring (which you find out through a colour analysis) can look truly amazing in wearing black close to their face. The rest of us will look aged and tired as it exaggerates features, and draws attention to lines - not exactly what we’re looking for! Therefore, it’s best to avoid black polo/ high necks as they’re probably not doing much for you. Instead wear it a little lower and show some décolletage with it so it doesn’t feel as harsh next to your face. Sadly navy, bottle green and other colours with black in it will do the same.

Flatter your shape during tough times

Those who are going through a tough time tend to opt to baggy, shapeless clothes. They are in a tricky place and don’t have the time, energy, inspiration or perhaps confidence to be carefully collating a form flattering outfit which is totally understandable. However, try to look a little objectively and encourage yourself to slightly step out of the box and challenge yourself by picking something different and a little out of the ordinary. I bet it lifts your spirits. For example, if you carry weight around your middle, wearing a more woven fabric with panels and darts that allows for more structural shape. This will be way more flattering than a tight jersey piece or a massive oversized tent like piece!

Be considered when you go shopping

Panic shopping is not the one – you’ll almost definitely end up buying something/lots you don’t like or need, just to have something! Just think about what it’s like going food shopping when you’re too hungry – you buy everything and nothing and end up regretting it! Give yourself a bit of research time with the intention of a) think about what you actually need – have a quick look through your wardrobe either physically or mentally, even if you can only fit this in on the morning commute and b) do a bit of research of which shops might have the kind of pieces you are after. If not, I guarantee you’ll feel deflated and defeated pretty early on.

Have fun with your wardrobe

Have fun with your wardrobe. I appreciate we don’t all have a massive disposable income but you will already have a wardrobe of clothes - spend an afternoon trying on different ensembles without an agenda and you never know you might re-imagine a few pieces and fall back in love with some old gems.

Lauren Manville Style specialises in helping women to use the clothes they wear to express themselves; their journeys, lives, hopes, dreams and tremendous inner strength.  Lauren has a background in design and therapy which helps to bridge the gap between the two offering a fundamental understanding of what women go through with challenging life events.  

"A woman’s wardrobe is a huge part of her identity and self-expression", Lauren tells us. "I'd love to help you reconnect back with both so you feel confident and look stylish." Along with Lauren Manville Style, Lauren is launching Mother Rose - a womenswear brand for pregnancy women that is all about dressing the woman not only the bump. Lauren's story will be on our Launch Pad this summer.

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