I’ve struggled with my confidence and self-esteem for my whole life, and for a long time this manifested in the way I dressed. During my teens and early 20s I didn’t really know how to put an outfit together and I didn’t put much effort into my appearance. Next to my friends in their make-up and nice clothes I felt like Plain Jane, preferring to blend into the background. I remember in my second year of university one of my course mates telling me that I didn’t dress very well. I don’t think he was the most qualified to judge but it stung nonetheless!
It wasn’t until I was at medical school that things started to change a bit. As a 3rd year medical student, about to be unleashed onto unsuspecting patients, I needed to look the part. So I went shopping for some smart new clothes. I’m not sure they’d be considered particularly stylish but they were definitely an improvement. From there, I started to put more effort into my appearance. Trainers were replaced with shoes and boots, and tracksuits were replaced with denim skirts. At my graduation ball I even wore a hot pink dress from Karen Millen (who’d have thought)!
My personal style journey really took off after I graduated from medical school in 2011. The transition from medical student to fully fledged junior doctor was not an easy one. I was thrust into an environment of unrelenting pressure that left me exhausted, stressed and utterly miserable. I needed some way of regaining control and making myself feel better, so I turned to clothes. I would set myself outfit challenges – for the whole week I could only wear a dress or a skirt to work. It may sound silly but this was my way of making sure that I put some effort into my appearance. I noticed that it gave me confidence and made me feel a bit better about myself. It was at this time that I started researching personal styling courses. I guess it was a bit of escapism from a very difficult job, but I had also realised just how powerful clothes could be. If putting a bit of effort into the way I dressed could make so much difference to how I felt, maybe I could do the same for other people? Although I couldn’t afford a course at that time the idea of doing one never left me and, in 2016 I signed up to the 3-day Introduction to Personal Styling Course at the Fashion Retail Academy. I absolutely loved it! We learned some of the theory around body shape and colour before putting it into practice with some practical challenges. I was so excited to start using my newfound skills but, in reality, I didn’t know where to start. On the course I was surrounded by people who were much younger than me and who had a background in fashion. I started to question what I was even thinking! I didn’t have a fashion background and with a full-time job I didn’t have the flexibility to get any work experience. So, I put things to one side and focused on the day job.
It was 3 years later when the universe intervened and reminded me of my personal styling ambitions. I was reading a newsletter from my old school when I saw an article about a former classmate who was now working in fashion. All I could think of was that she was doing what I wanted to do and this gave me the kickstart I needed to make my dream a reality. After attending an event by The Image Consulting Company about how to make your love of clothes work for you I felt inspired, and in June 2019 I completed a Diploma in Personal Styling at the London College of Style. It was such an amazing week and I couldn’t believe that 8 years after the thought had first entered my mind I had finally qualified as a personal stylist!
It’s taken me a long time to get here but I feel as though the journey is only just beginning. I know how it feels to be a woman severely lacking in confidence, to not like what you see when you look in the mirror and to have such low self-esteem that you don’t even make an effort for yourself. I'm still a work in progress but developing my personal style has had a huge impact on my confidence and self-esteem. I trained as a personal stylist because I want to help women who feel the way I felt. I want to use clothes as a means to build confidence and help them see that they deserve to look and feel their best.