Confidence through Clothes
We had a chat to Emma Shoe, a personal stylist and confidence creator in Surrey, to see what we could learn from her about her work in building confidence in women.
Are you a mother?
Emma: Yes I’m Mama to Ollie 7 and Bea 5. They’re gorgeous!!
How do you define confidence?
Emma: When thinking about my answer to this - I’m an over thinker - I decided to look at the dictionary definition of confidence!! The one that resonated with me described self confidence as “belief in oneself and one's powers or abilities” and that defines it perfectly.
What makes you feel confident?
Emma: Work has always played a big factor in my self confidence. I’ve had periods of my life when I’ve not worked due to redundancy, depression and relocating overseas for my husband’s job and it’s during these periods my confidence has taken a big hit.
My children make me feel confident, especially as they grow, they are without doubt my proudest life achievement. However for the periods of time I wasn’t working and my sole role was looking after my children, I felt like I’d lost my identity and it impacted on my self confidence and sense of self worth.
When I was in my early 20s I read a quote from fashion designer Betty Jackson that said ‘ladies never stop working’ I was baffled by this then, but now in my mid 40s I totally get what she meant. Work is great for so many reasons including my mental health, creativity, sense of self worth and confidence.
Do you have a self care ritual and if so what does it entail?
Emma: I’m not very high maintenance with beauty products etc. Self care for me involves a really good fast swim or an amazing yoga class that literally resets my batteries with a brilliant teacher called Edina Cservenkova.
What do you think is the psychology of clothes (ie the impact they have on mood, behaviours)?
Emma: Over the 10 years I’ve been a personal stylist I’ve seen first hand many times the psychological impact of clothes on my clients. The result of the right (or wrong) clothes on a client’s mood and self esteem is often visible before my eyes.
Women (more so than men I believe) have an emotional connection with our clothes.
When I’m in the process of de-cluttering a client’s wardrobe, many women want to share a story for each piece being ditched from their closet - often with a fond farewell memory - and for many it’s part of the cathartic process of letting go of a particular wardrobe item.
I’ve had women break down and sob with emotions evoked by the memory of a particular garment. I’ve also had women tell me my wardrobe makeover and personal shopping experiences have been life changing.
One memorable client booked me to re-create her wardrobe following a severe illness. She was still wearing size 18 clothes despite losing the weight she’d gained during her illness and was now a size 8, which meant her clothes were simply huge on her.
I helped by establishing her signature style and shopping with her to create a stunning new wardrobe, which literally knocked years off her and put a smile back on her face.
She admitted to feeling like a different person wearing her new clothes and wrote me a letter following the experience to say how much more confident she was. So much so she now had a new job and new partner. She finally felt able to put her illness behind her and explained ditching the clothes she’d worn during her illness had been the first steps to changing her life.
Clothes are most definitely not just about practicality or fashion, but also wearing the clothes we feel great in can have such an incredible psychological impact, elevate our mood and create confidence.
How does what you wear impact on how you feel personally?
Emma: I always dress according to my mood and as I suffer with IBS symptoms (often including a bloated belly which makes me look pregnant). I also have to take that into consideration when choosing items to wear. There are certain styles I would never wear e.g: a clingy body forming dress or jumpsuit, as these pieces look best on women like my best friend who has a flat stomach!!
It’s taken me years to find the style I love and am confident wearing and most importantly feels me!!
Through my 20s I made many a fashion faux pas trying to copy a look or being slavish to a fashion that didn’t suit me. During my 30s I wore a lot of black and then in my mid 30s, after my first pregnancy, I lost my love of clothes and felt confused about what suited my post baby figure. For the first time ever I hated clothes shopping.
I’d say it’s only in the last 6 years or so in my 40s that I’ve truly defined my signature style and now know what suits and what doesn’t. I’ve embraced colour and rarely wear black these days.
I love how clothes can make you feel and give you confidence.
I often hear from women who tell me they’re considering my wardrobe makeover experience but want to wait until they’ve lost weight before they book. I encourage them not to wait as I know how it can help give back their lost self esteem. I believe everyone should look and feel great in their clothes no matter what their shape or size.
A recent client was so inspired after her wardrobe makeover that she started a much put off diet and had lost 6lbs within 2 weeks. My mantra is ‘creating confidence with clothes’
To find out more or get in touch
Dr Jo Gee
Mummas Wellbeing - is a specialist women’s health wellbeing service, in Guildford and Godalming, Surrey, UK.
Tel: 07933 343180