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10 Reasons your personal image should be your next project

Fashion and Beauty
 Lula Kiah                              Photo: Courtesy

As we look forward to a fresh start in the new year, perhaps it's time to reflect on both inward and outward change. Here are ways to find a brand new you with advice from three women, who work on image.

The year is coming to an end and people are drawing plans of how they are going to celebrate. A few are going over this year's resolutions to see what did or didn't work as a way of making better ones for next year. Maybe one resolution we could all make is to invest as much time building our image as we do providing for our families.

As teenagers and even young women, we looked forward to spending hours choosing the outfit, make-up, nail polish and shoe we would wear just to go into town and have chips with friends. But as we got older and more responsibilities those many regimes we religiously followed in the past become fewer and fewer.

Perhaps, now the only luxury we allow ourselves is a day at the salon where we get a manicure/pedicure and hair done. Yet as we get older, we need to make an effort to be well turned out every single day and it's not just the body that has to be recalibrated, we also have to examine our behavior and attitudes – are we becoming the women who makes anyone who crosses our path (from the cleaner to the Company CEO) feel good?

Or are we constantly spewing negativity because of some internal hurts? So here are just 10 ways to a brand new you – for this we sort the advice of three women, who work on image.

Lula Kiah

An Image and Fashion consultant who goes round the world teaching women how to dress, says:

1. First win the battle of the mind

Sapeur is the name of a group of young men living in Congo Brazzaville, who live on 20 US cents a day, but dress in Gucci, Prada and Amani. They have to save up, sometimes for years, to buy the clothes. Why go to all this trouble, because wearing expensive outfits brings meaning to their lives, makes them feel important especially because they are living in squalor.

We cannot go to these extremes but can make an effort to dress like where we want to be even though our current circumstances does not reflect it. Maybe we are a frustrated sales manager whose efforts of becoming head of sales are constantly being thwarted, do not worry, no one can stop you from dressing like the head of sales.

Once you convince yourself you are the head of sales it will be easier convince others – such is the power of dressing. The battle of the mind is won before the battle of the sword.

2. Looking beautiful is not synonymous to looking sexy

We all have those days, when we wake up feeling great and decide to dress up even if we are just going to buy groceries at the supermarket. But looking attractive, these days, has been equated to being sexy. Although, the outfit may turn heads and skyrocket your self-confidence, looking striking does not necessitate show off one's body like Miuccia Prada said "we have to show that the brain can be sexier".

 Photo: Courtesy

3. Match your external to your internal

In our 'instant' world we all make snap judgments based on first glance appeal. But, the real stuff you are made off often lies hidden just below the surface. So, we have to think about the way we want to be perceived and to discover how others already see us.

If the two are at odds, then make a list of words that describe the qualities you would like others to see in you. Think, visual, verbal, behavior and personality when you make you list. Then ask a few trusted friends to list what they see and experience, good and bad. Once you have the two lists resolve to correct any glaring faults first. Tackle one negative trait at a time.

Carole Kinoti,

Fashion designer for 11 years, last year started producing a ready to wear line designed specifically for the African body

 Carole Kinoti                                        Photo: Courtesy

4. So what if you have added weight

Whether you are a size 19 or have added a few kilos and are not happy, there is still some strength that you can capitalize. Therefore, the first thing is to go to the mirror and take note of all the good points. Then, instead of focusing on the six kilos you have added concentrate on your attractive features. Then see what you can wear to bring out those features, and that's what people will see. If you own it, if you believe it, that's what people will see.

Furthermore, embracing who you are starts with knowing your body type -

You are rectangular shape girl if you have: Small to average bust, undefined waist, well aligned shoulder and hips

Looks to consider: Skinny jeans, a line and tulip skirts, Hip length jackets that gently shape the waist

Keep away from: Square neck lines, crop tops, straight dresses and skirts, baggy tops

You are strawberry shape girl if you have: Broad straight shoulders, an average to full bust, narrow hips and smaller bottom

Looks to consider: V-necklines that draw the eye down, A-line and tulip or full skirts, skinny or straight leg pants; boot cut, belts worn on the hips

Keep away from: Styles that hide your silhouette, heavy scarves or necklaces, voluminous tops

You are Pear shaped girl if you have: A smaller bust and narrow shoulders, you may have relatively flat tummy, full hips, bottom and thighs

Looks to consider: Boat, cowl, ruffled and wide V and U neckline, high waist pants and skirts

Keep away From: Bias cut dresses and skirts, baggy tops and tunics, pencil/fishtail and tight tube skirts

You are Hour Glass girl if: Full bust, well defined narrow waist, curvy body

Looks to Consider: Waist-defined tops and jackets, wrap tops and dresses, belts to accentuate the waist

Keep away from: High neck lines, low rise jeans, straight or boxy tunics and tops

You are Apple Shape girl: average to big bust, a full mid-section, and great legs

Looks to consider: V-neck tops, A-line and knee length skirts, straight leg and boot cut pants

handbags rather than shoulder bags

Keep Away from: Short boxy tops, high waist pants and waist details emphasis like a gathered skirt

But no matter what body shape you are, the African traits will always emerge, many Kenyan women have had the experience where if it fits you at the top it does not fit at the bottom, those imperfections are not imperfections. I believe in picking out the strengths and enhancing them because that will camouflaged the weaknesses you think you have.

5. Wearing your entire wardrobe

We are all guilty of amassing tops, dresses, shoes because the hawker or mitumba man convinced us, only to get home and realize we should have listened to our gut that kept screaming. So the first step to deculturring our wardrobe is to look at your lifestyle –what you wear needs to reflect your job and social functions, budget and most importantly how you look.

 After figuring out what works for you then you can quickly get rid of pieces that don't. If there others that you have not worn in the last few months, give them out. When you get to the point where you are wearing everything in your closet, because it reflects who you are, do not buy things on impulse. If you have to buy think through where and when you will wear it. Any time you take to reflect will ensure you never have a blotted closet.

Furthermore, women work so hard to get outfits for the office they forget about the weekend. Many do not know the difference between untidy and casual. You have to get to the point where even when you are at home watching television you look nice because you have clothes for sitting in the house, so it should be something comfortable but not ragged, if its scruffy no wonder you will end up having plenty of tea with bread.

 Photo: Courtesy

6. Careful with the bias

A lot of the prejudice has to do with upbringing maybe you grew up being told that people from your father's side are like this. Its, basically, lack of confidence because of upbringing or life experience. So draw a bucket list.

There is no other better way of trying something. Tell yourself this month I am wearing short skirts (but not immoral) and by the time that kavoice comes and says remove, you ran out of the bedroom, because it's psychological. Make sure you walk like you have always looked nice in a short skirt and eventually you will realize you actually like it. So own it, brand it and tell your story.

Harriet Koyoson

Of Style Tribe, is an initiative that holds forums to teach ordinary women how to use fashion to create their style.

7. Dress your Diamond

It’s said Fashion is what you buy, style is what you do with it. Therefore, we should all aspire to acquire a sense of style as we grow older. You should have signature outfits to the point that if somebody sees it hanging in a shop they can't help but think of you.

 People believe having style does not matter it's the brains that are important but if you have a diamond and put it in a brown paper bag no one will open the bag. So if your brain is your diamond, you need to package it appropriately.

8. The African body

These days we have fashion week with size zero models, but not everyone is size zero and being in Africa its more real for us because our bodies are bigger, even smaller women tend to put on a bit of weight once they get children. However, women can change the market by demanding more fashionable clothes, whether from a retail shop, mitumba guy or local fashion designer, that are apt for their body shape.

 Photo: Courtesy

9. Lean Back

We have been sold a cock and bull story that we have to be like men to be powerful; on the other hand, if we embraced our womanhood we would be more powerful. Being feminine is not only reducing the number of trouser suits worn each week, it is also embracing a more feminine style of leadership, like noticing when someone is having a bad day or being more nurturing when dealing with employees or coworkers, those are the things only a woman can do and those qualities will make her a better leader, we just have to give the process a chance.

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