THE BLOG

Distractive Or Attractive?

10/08/2017 11:28 BST | Updated 10/08/2017 11:30 BST

Having spent many years in the image, style and fashion business - I'm attuned to visual cues. For instance, when some individuals focus on needing their personal style to be seen as creative, often this can come across as costuming. Their insistence about being seen in a specific way, can be almost overwhelming. Therefore, it's their insistence that tends to overshadow their personality, and often their expertise. I'm not suggesting we conform to cultural norms, I am saying, ensure your personal style adheres to your desire to communicate your authentic image. Our authentic style is a combination of being aware of our personal style, comfort, intuition, experience and editing. In most instances where authenticity is a priority, it begins very early in life. Probably in our teens.

Nowadays, when one walks into a clothing retailer, we can be overwhelmed by the plethora of styles, fabrics and colours. Begin by just perusing, and if something takes your eye, inspect the item further. Does it look right and feel right? Yes, by feeling the item, we often make a connection. Does it appear to be well made and do the details appear congruent? Now carry on browsing. If this item continues to stick in your mind, eventually go back to it and try it on. If it's a top, or an outer garment, as soon as you slide your arms into the sleeves, be aware how smooth or wrinkly it feels. The smoother it feels the more likely the garment is right for you. Now time to look in the mirror. How do you think it looks on you? Your immediate reaction is very important. Do you think it flatters your shape? does the colour suit your colouring? Does it appear to be a good fit? I know, a lot to consider.

But consider this, how much time and money one wastes on clothing mistakes. Even with all my knowledge about style, I've made a few mistakes. My errors used to be about colours. Having a sallow complexion means that yellow doesn't flatter my skin tone, nor does brown or shades of tan, rust or orange. Had I been aware of this when selecting a pale yellow cashmere sweater, I'd have gone for the black or navy instead. So it's important to know what are the best colour choices for us. Now, as to whether one is projecting an attractive visage or a distracting one. If your desire is to be known as a creative individual, does that mean wearing bold colours? Or attiring yourself in unusual styles in exaggerated designs? In my opinion, certainly not, I consider that a distraction.

In order to maintain an air of attractiveness, ensure your clothes suit your personality, not by announcing it. For instance, 'I'm highly academic, therefore, I can appear as shabby-chic', for example wearing a light blue, wrinkled linen suit in the dead of winter. Instead, allow it to quietly emerge as if it is gradually defining itself. For many, this is likely to be a slow learning curve, that's because quick fixes usually don't work. First educate yourself in the details, not the overall appearance. Yes, it's the details we need to focus on first. For example, does the stitching appear as neat? Do the buttons/fastenings complement the garment, are they soundly secured?

For me, the details are how well designed the item appears. This entails years of experience amd having developed an eye. I'm not suggesting that you spend an inordinate amount of time in order to be able to spot a good thing. I am saying neglecting the best ways to attire yourself is similar to abdicating from choosing what to eat. The similarity is that when we don't take responsibility for what we ingest, we tend to eat food that's less good for us. And when we don't pay enough attention to our choosing what to wear, we usually make mistakes. In saying that, some mistakes can enable our learning curve to be more worthwhile.

I know that when I make mistakes they teach me how to prevent making those same mistakes again. So take some risks, try a new store and a new area. You never know, you might discover a new you! For most of us, change can be disorienting. Nevertheless, being disoriented can lead us to new territory. It can be a positive distraction. Which brings me to how our clothes can promote a negative distraction. A while ago, I saw a woman wearing multi-coloured printed trousers. Her top was a silky, flowing blouse in an abstract design. As I recall, it was very bright red. Her shoes were also in bright red, with smatterings of white dots. She also had a bright blue ribbon tied in her dyed blonde hair (could see the dark roots). All in all, I thought her outer appearance was a distraction from her authentic, eccentric personality. This woman clearly wanted to attract attention. Now, some people can get away with being eccentric or different. Thing is, you've still got to choose carefully, think seriously about how you'd like to be perceived.

Years ago, Jeremy Hackett the co-founder of Hackett's and I worked together on Savile Row. I was a director, Jeremy was an entry level member of staff. If I look at recent pictures of Jeremy, his look hasn't really changed that much. Yes, he's matured, as has his style. However, in essence his style is just a natural extension of what it always has been. In short, not dissimilar to discovering your Personal Brand, it's about discovering your Personal Style and remaining loyal to it. People are likely to remember that which you'd rather they didn't: coffee/food stain, unkempt hair or nails, apparel in need of cleaning, etc.

Some tips:

Ensure you spend quality time shopping

Edit your wardrobe - be ruthless

Decide how much you'd like to spend, then add 10%

Perhaps take someone with you - whose taste you admire

Endeavour to select extremely carefully

Make sure you can return the item for a full refund

Try a new area to shop or browse