Find Your Own Style

“Innovative habits” may seem to be a paradox, but consider the following dress code practices. When working in the privacy of our own home, it is tempting not to shave or apply lipstick. IBM has a rule for those who take calls or work from home whereby they expect employees to be dressed as if they were in the office. Saint Paul Lutheran High School in Concordia, Missouri, has one formal-dress day every week. Student’s test scores reveal that better grades are achieved on formal-dress days. Clothes do not make a person, yet being well groomed and appropriately dressed does convey an attitude to ourselves and others. This however does not mean going over the top by overdoing the bling or blindly following the latest fashion. Within the parameters of appropriateness, there is plenty of room for personal style.

So don't try to impress me, you're just pins and paint And don't try to charm me with things that you ain't. And don't try to enchant me with your manner of dress 'Cos a monkey in silk is a monkey no less - From the song “Like Janis” written by Sugarman the Legend, RODRIGUEZ

To re-innovate ourselves successfully, be true to the situation. For years, business in South Africa was traditionally conducted by the white supremacy wearing power suits. Then Nelson Mandela was released after serving 27 years of a life-sentence for treason. Contrary to the prevailing dress code, he popularized the African or ‘Madiba’ shirt. Dressing informally did not diminish his message or image of hope but in fact reaffirmed it. Mandela was a humble man and many of his followers of humble circumstances. He shared his message outdoors under the burning hot African sun. It would have been a disconnect between man, message and situation, to dress up. He healed the nation to become an international icon of freedom, forgiveness, peace, truth and reconciliation.

Quiz Time… let’s see if you know the celebrity who fits the following descriptions: • Man with rhinestones, hip belts and bellbottoms = ? • Woman with a cone shaped bra = ? • Man with the deliberately combed hair, suit and red tie = ? • Woman with big hair wigs, tight belts and high heels = ? • Man with long braided hair, facial hair and jeans = ? • Woman with the matching hat, shoes and bags = ?

1. Now, in 10 words or less, how do people explain your style? Do you like it? 2. Next, go to your wardrobe and pick out your top 10 favourite daywear items and your most frequently worn daywear items. Is there a commonality of colour, cut, fit, fabric, fashion era or feeling the item evokes for you? 3. Compose a description, 10 words or less, of your style as you perceive it? Do you like it? 4. Compose a description, 10 words or less, of your style as you wish it to be. 5. Select items from your wardrobe which can be altered and which ones should be donated to a charity. 6. Take some full length selfies. Analyse and assess them with brutal honesty. 7. Test your newly innovated style on friends and strangers to get a fair poll.

It is important to know that sometimes people pay compliments to make small talk, break the ice or gain your favour. You may look ridiculous. Runway fashion and outfits seen in magazines and shops windows are not necessarily for you, your age or your figure. Do not to use the number of compliments or fashion relevancy into account when innovating your own style. Quick complete make-overs are for TV viewers’ entertainment and not the realistic pace at which you should expect to change your wardrobe in pursuit of your own style. Personal development and mastery, emotionally, mentally or physically, is a lifelong journey. Be kind to yourself.

Larna Anderson, Artist, Innovator & Change Leader

Managing Director at The Art of Learning (Pty) Ltd

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