Jessica Fuller interviews House of Colour Stylist Ciara Lowe Thiedeman (Autumn Romantic Natural) about her own style and working with clients.
Tell me about your style session and what you learnt from putting your style session into action.
I did my style session about two years ago and I only did it because I fell in love with colour. Little did I know! Now I look back and I think, what a watershed moment that was for me.
Style was that moment of Eureka; it’s really important to know who you are on the inside and to wear it on the outside because in doing so, you learn to attract the right people to you. You learn that people will react in a comfortable manner when they see you because there are no surprises.
When you meet me (and even when I was a little girl), there's a lot about me that is big. I have big reactions, I have big hair and I have a big energy that comes with me. It was about understanding that my outside needed to match my inside, and therefore why small scale accessories and prints really don’t work.
A style session makes you realise that some of the words you use to describe your personality should also describe your clothing and accessories. For me, bold, exuberant, vivacious, flowy (because I'm really quite easy-going, despite my reputation). I also like the natural side of things, things that are in their natural state. I am often told that I'm real and raw and I love being told that, so I like my clothes, my jewellery and my accessories to be like that too.
Style is really a process of getting to know yourself, to embrace who it is that you are and then starting to wear that on the outside. So what you see is what you get - it's all about truth and integrity. I'm a romantic natural and so there's drama in me and I need to show that, but there aren't shops specifically for romantic naturals or any other of the House of Colour style personalities. So it can potentially feel quite daunting but the reality is that the clothes you need are everywhere, you just need to know how to find them.
I have a hashtag #makeitmine. I talk about this in my style sessions all the time, about how there are things that both you and I could wear, we could pick the same jeans and t shirt from the same shop. The question is, what do we do with it afterwards? I need something big and bold. I'm thinking a leopard print belt and some funky boots that come up to my knees. I can add some drama with some bold colour from my season and I'm already looking “big”. So that's what I call #makeitmine. Yours may be a different scale, you might add a little dainty pump or ankle boots and a thinner belt. It's understanding how to make the high street fashions work for you.
When you understand your own style you can also find it in second-hand shops. It's looking at a piece of clothing and understanding what you need from it to work for you.
In a second-hand shop, I will be drawn to things if they have a good texture about them. I’m thinking what I can do with it to #makeitmine. Is it too big for me? Can it be taken in? Can I change the buttons to make it look better? From a recycling perspective, can I #makeitmine is my favourite thing.
So what advice would you give someone shopping for their own style?
Always shop with an open mind and always look for the potential in an item. Also consider your cost per wear, you’ll need to wear it lots of times to keep this low but don’t forget to add in the cost of making it totally personal (and create an item that you know no one else is ever going to have). Before you go, know yourself and know your style.
I love it when people actually get to learn this stuff for themselves- at House of Colour we can apply it to absolutely everybody no matter who they are. It's a very affordable investment in yourself and one that will last a lifetime.
At the moment, we're all in this lockdown situation, learning a whole lot about ourselves, learning who it is that we are when we don't have to be anybody. I am so excited to see what comes out of this, when people have been free to be just themselves (and with respect to how they dress), with no pressure and no outside influences. I know there are all the jokes about grey hair and home haircuts, I get all of that but it's going to be a real experiment to see what we all come out like at the end of this thing and it is really exciting.
This whole thing is an equaliser that we all have to deal with. I’m learning so much about my strengths and my weaknesses. It's kind of funny seeing what your superpowers are when you're stripped bare. It's really important to see which side we lean on in adversity because that's where we discover the truths about ourselves. So, there's parts I like and parts I don't like. When it comes time to go back out into the real world and integrating back into society - are we going to see people unwilling to be fake? Now recognising that a lot of that was too much effort, it was too much stress and it turns into a burden trying to be somebody else rather than who you genuinely are. I can’t wait to help people dress that real person, ready for the real world, creating that visual and helping people understand who they really are.
House of Colour consultants are here to help you continue to put your best foot forward in these unsettling times. Contact your local consultant to see how their services have been modified to accommodate social distancing measures.
Edited by Lynn Ainsley, firstname.lastname@example.org
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