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From Frumpy & Frazzled to Fabulous at Fifty

“I want every woman I work with to feel the joy of knowing she can look her best every day, know what to wear for different occasions, how to work with her body shape, scale and her own style personality. I want her to be body confident and love how she looks..”

Loraine Birchall, TransformMyStyle.com

The Story

I've been coaching and offering consultancy to small business for best part of 20 years, some digital (web, networks etc) but mostly creative problem solving, project management and web strategy (form/function).


Having had a good year about 10 years ago I felt it was time to invest in me and paid for a Colour and Style consultation. The very nice lady spent all of 20 minutes speed draping me, one colour after another and in such a rush I couldn't see what was working and what wasn't. But, she's the expert, right? Not one question about my lifestyle or what I liked to wear, some general advice about suits and I was on my way without so much as a cup of tea or a natter. I followed her advice and she typed me as a Soft Summer.

The Problem:

Being a get-on-with-it kind of girl, I spent a small fortune (to me) on suits, blouses, tops, shoes, bags and accessories in my new colours and really thought I looked the business.


For the next 8 years or so, every client who knew me well kept asking if I was ill or feeling okay? There's only so many times you can keep saying "I'm fine thank you" before it gets a bit repetitive and you start wondering what's going on.


Even my lovely Mum kept commenting about how pale and grey I looked, my skin was blotchy and every blackhead or blemish looked like Mount Versuvius to me.   When I finally stared at photos of me wearing the Summer colours, I looked like I was seriously ill.

I decided that maybe the expert was wrong. 


Had the Consultant taken even 20 minutes more to look at how my skin reacted to the colours, she'd have been able to see my true colouring. I had wasted a lot of money to look like an extra from the Walking Dead. 

The Solution:

I trained in Colour Analysis and loved it. I could add this to my existing consultancy, go online with services, it was a whole new world of colour that took me back to a childhood with my head either in a book, drawing or painting. I'd forgotten how much colour, texture inspired me to create. I added Colour Psychology and Hair Colour Analysis soon afterwards.


I spent weeks looking in the mirror with this drape and that drape and decided that I am in fact a Soft Autumn, so my colouring is warm and NOT cool, the expert had it wrong.


I quickly put together a capsule wardrobe of grab-and-go outfits. Wearing one of these outfits at a meeting, I bumped into a colleague I hadn't seen for 12 months or more and he yelled.  'Bloody hell woman, you look ten years younger than the last time I saw you, have you lost a lot of weight, what's different?' I hadn't lost weight (I am still a curvy girl), but dressing in the right colours, shapes and styles to flatter my shape had made all the difference. I was floating on cloud nine with happiness.


I can't wait to share that feeling with other women and men, after all, who doesn't want to look and feel fabulous?

Wearing Soft Autumn Colours

Loving the khaki

I feel so much better in a soft/muted and warm khaki, no need for make up other than a bit of lippy.

Soft Autumn top

No make up, a rich burgundy heathered top, nice even skintone and it's reduced the appearance of any fine lines.

Wearing the Wrong Soft Summer Colours

Ghastly in Grey


Loraine Birchall wearing Summer grey ombre sweater

Grey ombre sweater, looking old, tired and haggard, look at the deep lines on my face and this was taken four years ago!

Woeful in Black


Campaigning in 2016 and looking old, grey and washed out in black and strong patterns.   Eeek.

Better in Universal Purples


Loraine wearing Universal Purples, still a little too cool but this is better

A soft/muted purple scarf, it's a little cool in colour but it's not awful.   My skin tone is much more even in this photo and the only make up I have on is some lip gloss.

Weight is just a number

Female Body Shapes

I was watching a film on Netflix, Brené Brown – The call to courage, where she talks a about courage, shame and the weight of societal expectations.   She made some really interesting observations about how men are judged on how successful they are, expected to always be strong and to defend their family at all costs.   While women are judged by their appearance and in particular their body image and weight.   We’re shamed for being too fat, too thin, too tall, too short and so on.

A friend posted an image on Facebook, all these women weigh 11 stone / 154lbs / 69.85kg which is the average weight of a British woman.   It made me think about weight and I’ve decided it’s just a number.

Five women who all weigh the same but are different heights and dress sizes

Five women who all weigh the same but are different heights and dress sizes

The image will take you directly to the article if you click on it.

The ladies range from 5ft 2in tall up to 6ft 1in tall, have different body shapes and lifestyles.   Some exercise, some walk, some don’t.   It’s important to remember that a pound of muscle takes up a lot less room than a pound of fat so weight isn’t always the most accurate measure of health, neither is BMI or body mass index.

My Ex husband is 6ft 4 1/2 in tall, his BMI has often been pointed out as high but the ratio based on height isn’t the most accurate and doesn’t take into account the muscle mass or skeletal mass of the person.  He was never overweight, never had any belly fat, so his BMI and weight weren’t an accurate measure of his health.

You could be skinny-fat, slim but with more visceral belly fat hidden in your system than someone who weighs more but is more active and eats a healthier diet.

Building up muscle as we get older can make a positive impact on your metabolism, your inch loss, your energy and your long term health.   That muscle will help increase your metabolism and help you look leaner, stronger and feel better.

So next time you weigh in, remember, it’s just a number.   It’s not the measure that changes who you are, it’s doing something about it.

I’m 51 now and 5ft 4in tall, like Angela in the article, lady on the left of the photo.    I weigh more than she does but I’m following a Rosemary Conley plan from her Hip & Thigh diet, it’s easy for me to remember and works for me.  I’m a way off 11st but it’s my goal to get there by March of 2020.     To keep myself on track I’ve set up non-food mini rewards along the way for each 7lbs lost.

Body shape makes a difference, I’m a pear shape or triangle with my weight in the lower body, but in recent years due to hormones and menopause I’ve been carrying some belly fat.    Belly fat is more dangerous than leg, hip or bottom fat and it’s something I need to deal with to avoid health complications.    See this article on the BBC website for more information.

I have added in some bodyweight training, 3 times a week for just 15 minutes per session.   It’s easy to fit into my working day and hard to find an excuse not to do it 🙂       I can feel more muscle after just a few weeks and there is definitely some inch loss even on weeks when the scales say otherwise.   See, weight is just a number 🙂

I’m working my way through the Couch to 5k programme from the NHS in addition to my daily dog walks.   I’m on week one and I can already feel a difference to my energy levels.     I’ll let you know what changes that makes to my weight and measurements as I go along.

What’s my point?   I guess to say that weight is just a number, it means different things depending on your lifestyle, how active you are, how you eat and isn’t the only measure of health or success in life.

If you’re overweight now, don’t put off changing your life.   If you want to have your colour analysis session or have a style consult, do it now.   You have the right to feel gorgeous every day and your weight doesn’t define that.  Learn to love yourself the way you are and your whole world will change.

Next month I’m adding in a five minute, no weights workout each day to tackle those jiggly upper arms, check in end of July for more info, maybe you’d like to join me?

Loraine

 

How to use colour swatches, wallets or guides

How to use colour swatches, mini wallets or colour cards for shopping, make-up, hair colours and more.

Firstly, the colour swatch, mini wallet or colour cards are NOT colour matching tools.   You do not wander round the shops looking for the specific colours in the set.    If you did, you’d end up tired, grumpy and frustrated as fashion colours change each year depending on the season.

So, how do I use my wallet, swatch or cards?    It’s very simple, you lay the swatch, wallet or card over the top of the item you’re considering, see below for a few examples.

The image above shows Autumn fabric with Soft Autumn (top) and Bright/Clear Winter (bottom) mini swatch wallets laid over the fabric.  You’ll see the Autumn fabrics are in harmony with the shirt (Per Una) and the Bright Winter colours stand out as if ‘sat on top’.    This particular top would suit a Warm, Deep or Soft Autumn.

This shirt is a mix of spring pinks, yellows and peach tints with a white undertone, it is bright, warm and light.    I have laid my seasonal wands over the top and can easily see that the left most wand (Spring) is most in harmony with the fabric, the others don’t work well with it at all.  The Summer wand is disappearing (although some of the pinks work with the fabric, the lighter pinks), Autumn is too deep and Winter sticks out like a sore thumb.   This top would be wonderful on a warm, light or bright Spring lady but a light Summer lady might get away with it.

This image shows the Autumn and Spring fabric mini wallets fanned out and laid over the fabric.  While the Autumn colours (warm/deep) are okay with it, the Spring colours (warm/light) are truly in harmony and look made to match it.

 

 

 

 

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