Body Confidence, Miley Cyrus, Opinion, Role Model

Miley Cyrus – Authentic style or a total boob?!

It’s not every day I get invited onto BBC radio to talk about nipples! Yes, that’s right – Miley Cyrus’ ‘nipple pasties’ to be precise. There I was, preparing for a call with one of my mentees when my phone rang. It was a producer from the Shane O’Connor show asking if I had seen the picture in the paper of Miley Cyrus wearing nipple pasties, and not much else, at the event to welcome Joan Jet into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In honour of Joan, Miley chose to wear pink hearts emblazoned with a J on each one.

Miley CyrusAs the producer was speaking to me I quickly Googled the image and saw what she was referring to. “Would you like to comment on how this outfit is representing her image?” I have very strong views on the example that people in the public eye set for their younger fans, so you can bet I accepted in a flash!

Some of you who don’t have teenage daughters may not know that Miley played a character in a Disney programme – Hannah Montana. I saw sweet Miley growing up in front of my eyes as I watched the innocent programme with my daughter. She had a huge fan base of young tweens and teens at that time who all followed her career as she moved into pop-star mode. She clearly wanted to rid herself of the sugar-sweet ‘Hannah’ image and quickly established herself as a writhing, finger-flicking, stick it to the establishment rebel.

Her image is clearly meant to shock and grab headlines. But what of her young fans? I can only speak for my daughter who thinks she has ‘lost the plot’ and she is no longer interested in Miley, her antics or her music. She is well informed though, with my passion for encouraging a confident body image in teens, she is pretty well versed in the antics of the media in air-brushing and giving is fake and often impossible images to aspire to.   To other teens who may not know this knowledge, I wonder what kind of example she is setting. I strongly feel that people who are in the public eye have a duty of care to their fans and need to think carefully about the example they are setting.

Back to my interview with Shane – I mentioned all of the above, of course! Plus, he asked what I would advise Miley if she were my client. Great question. My instant answer was that I would advise her to be authentic, to represent herself though her image. I doubt whether she is being authentic. I think she is just rebelling and going through a phase. I hope she comes out of it soon and tones her image down to something a little more respectable. Poor Paul McCartney didn’t know where to look! He also asked if I thought it was selfish. After all the event was to honour Joan Jet and the newspapers were full of stories about Miley the next day. Of course Joan got a mention, but Miley stole her thunder. I retorted that it was a little like going to someone’s wedding as a guest and wearing a white dress!

What do you think of her look? One that you will be trying anytime soon?!

Stay authentic, but stay a little more demure I say.

I had seconds to look at the image before being live on air and I am pleased to say that I received feedback that I sounded ‘cool, composed and oh so right!’  Thank you!

Body Image, Image consultancy, Member Monday, Shopping

Member’s Monday – Sometimes we need image consultants too! – Judith Mercer

I’ve just finished writing my latest newsletter, during which I included an article about finding a suitable outfit for a special occasion and it struck me that although it is quite easy for an image consultant, such as myself, to offer helpful, constructive advice to others, it’s often hard to take the same advice ourselves. Judiths blog With our training we can quite easily analyse a client’s body shape, colouring, style personality etc., and use that information, together with their budget and dress code for the event, to pick out a rail of potential outfits and accessories without the angst the client themself might go through. But put an image consultant in the same situation as the client and it’s often the case that we suffer exactly the same concerns. We may know exactly what style suits our body shape and which shades will flatter our natural colouring, but when it comes to dressing for a family wedding or some other major social event our ability to put together the perfect look can fly straight out of the window. But why should this be the case? Well, it could be that many of those attending the event will probably know that you are an image consultant and will undoubtedly be scrutinising every aspect of your ensemble, making you feel even more pressure to get it just right. Or it could just be because it is much easier for someone else to see what will work for you, than you can yourself. I’m always telling my clients that we are all our own biggest critic, always focussing on the negative, and that is just the same if you are an image consultant. Despite knowing how to dress to hide those areas you don’t like about yourself, you can still find yourself looking in the mirror and seeing only the less than flat tummy, or thighs the size of oak trees! Someone else looking at you from an impartial perspective can be far more pragmatic about what they see. We can also get a little carried away with wearing colour or over-accessorising an outfit – we can’t always see that ‘less is more’. So you see, being an image consultant can be a blessing, or occasionally a curse – even we would benefit from the services of an image consultant sometimes. Judith Mercer U Look Great! Note from Lyn – Great idea Judith – that is why we are arranging a date for consultants to all get together in the summer to shop for each other!  It’s always great to get new ideas and an new perspective – it’s fun too!  We will blog about the experience in the summer.


Leadership: How to Bounce Back

resilienceI feel compelled to write about this subject because it is a topic that is coming up time and again with clients I coach, mentees, friends and business associates.  According to the dictionary, the definition of bouncing back, or resilience is ‘the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.’  Of course issues and problems come along all the time, it’s not about stopping them from happening, but it is about helping ourselves to recover without disappearing into a pit of despair.  So when the brown stuff hits the fan, it is worth having some strategies in place to help us to bounce back.

Psychologists have identified some of the factors that make someone resilient, among them a positive attitude, optimism, the ability to regulate emotions, and the ability to see failure as a form of helpful feedback. I was with a group of friends yesterday and we talked about our own strategies. Remember that it is OK to ask for help too, you don’t have to do this alone.  There is also no shame in feeling fear.  It’s natural and we all feel it. There are no prizes for being tough or macho.  Here are our thoughts and we would love to hear yours too.

1. Move – one of the quickest ways to change our state is to move our bodies, so do what works best for you.  It could be simply going for a walk, running, a vigorous gym session, swimming or dancing.  I’d recommend getting out of your usual environment and being in nature.  Our problems can seem less significant when you have some open space, rather than being stifled in the confines of an office environment.  I personally love walking my dog in the countryside, especially when the sun is shining!

2. Music – listen to something you find compelling – turn it up loud and sing along (maybe not in the middle of the office though!!)

3. Breathe – sometimes when we are gripped by fear we find it difficult to breathe normally.  Our heart rate increases and our breathing becomes faster.  By focusing on our breathing and taking some deep breaths, it can really help us to calm down and regulate our heart rate.

4. Mindfulness – practicing mindfulness is proven to reduce stress and worry.  There are lots of apps available.  The one I would recommend is  from  Headspace.  I tend to do mine just before bedtime as it helps me to have a really good nights sleep too!

5. Nurturing – take some time out just for you.  Our time tends to be taken up with work, family and friends.  There are so many demands upon our time.  Sometimes, just taking some time out and doing what pleases you is just what is needed.

6. Unplugging – these days technology is at our fingertips at all hours of the day.  It can be switched off!  Email can often add to the feeling of overwhelm.  The world will not end if it is not checked for a day.  Just set your out of office message and unplug.  You’ll be in a much better place after time away to deal with everything upon your return.

7. People – spending time with people who’s company you enjoy and having some fun.

8. Giving back – doing something for someone else helps you to focus on them instead of your own problems for a while.  It can often help your problems to seem less significant when you are helping someone else.

9. Gratitude – focus on the things you are grateful for.  If you are gripped by fear and wondering how to tackle a problem that has occurred, this may be tricky to do, but give it a try.  By looking at the good things you have going for you, it IMG_1588can make your problem seem less of an issue.

10. Journaling – writing down what is happening can help you to make sense of it.  Sometimes out problems can seem bigger than they are when they are just rattling around our mind.  Getting your thoughts down on paper helps you to sift through your thoughts and feelings gaining valuable self-knowledge. We are all different and what works for one person will not work for another.

11. Take action – what can you do right now to move you closer towards your goals?  Taking action always helps me to feel better.  A recommendation from one of our group is to do some things off your to do list that you like doing.  She calls them ‘fluffy tasks’ – much nicer that doing the ones you don’t like!

12. This too will pass – you have probably been here before and you know that you got through it last time – you will get through it again, just trust and try some of the ideas above.

I’m interested to hear your strategies – what do you do to bounce back?

Lyn Bromley MFIPI, ACMA –  Managing Director, First Impressions  Lyn Bromley is Managing Director of First Impressions Training Ltd and a Master of The Federation of Image Professionals International. (FIPI)  She is also Director of Regional Events at FIPI and a leader of Achiever’s Academy for Women. Please contact us if you would like to know more about our programmes, bespoke image training or one-to-one coaching.  First Impressions have a network of over 150 consultants working across the UK – to find one in your area visit the website and take a look at the consultant map. Telephone: +44 (0)1926 623038 Email: Website:

Curvy Pencil Skirt, Fabrickated, Sewing

Sewing: Curvy Pencil Skirt

This week’s sewing challenge was set by Kate of Fabrickated.  She sent me a pattern for a curvy pencil skirt.  Regular pencil skirts work for women with a fairly straight body shape – minimal difference between waist and hip measurements.  The curvy pencil skirt was designed for women with a 12″ difference between waist and hips.  Apparently Marilyn Monroe had a 13″ difference, so we are in good company!

Kate sent me a self-drafted pattern that I printed out onto A4 paper.  I then had to cut it out and stick it all together before I could start.  I chose a wool mix fabric.  Here it is all ready to cut out.


The skirt was pretty easy to make.  I decided to line it – which I may have done last around 20 years ago!  The lining took me a little longer  than making the skirt itself as it is a bit fiddly – especially around the invisible zip.

IMG_1597I am really pleased with the final result and here I am wearing it with my last project – the pussy-bow blouse.  I am building up a nice new wardrobe of self-made clothes.  Since my first attempt in January, I have made 2 wrap dresses, a vintage-style circle dress, a circle skirt, two pairs of PJ bottoms, a denim skirt, a pussy-bow blouse and now this curvy pencil skirt.  My next project is a short-sleeved wrap dress.  It’s all cut out and ready to sew.  Then I am on to boring blinds for our conservatory next.  I am sure I will squeeze in a few clothes, otherwise I may loose heart and not complete the blinds!

IMG_1606Here is a close up view – the fit is pretty good.  After lining it is a little tight on the waist, so next time I will bear that in mind.  I won’t be able to wear it if I am going out for lunch!

Great pattern Kate, I shall be making this up again.

Pussy-Bow Blouse, Sewing, Vogue Sewing Patterns, Vogue V8772

Sewing: Pussy-Bow Blouse

This blouse took a lot longer than my previous projects,  partly due to spending all last weekend at our daughter’s dance show and partly because this was more complex than anything I have already made, so I took my time to make sure I got it right. IMG_1335 I used Vogue V8772.  I really wanted to get a good fit with this blouse, so I carefully compared my measurements to those on the pattern.  I made a bust adjustment to move the bust dart up one inch and I shortened the length of the bodice so I can wear it  untucked or tucked in, depending upon what I am wearing it with. Other than that, it was as per the pattern. The construction of the bodice and the tie were both pretty simple and I made this up fairly quickly. IMG_1334 IMG_1360 IMG_1339 I knew that the sleeves would be a bit more challenging.  The first tricky bit was understanding what a ‘continuous lap’ is.  I checked out a couple of really helpful videos that showed exactly how to attach it.  It’s effectively a binding that goes around the slit at the cuff.  Here’s a picture of the completed continuous lap. IMG_1359 It’s difficult to see as it is in the same fabric.  I managed to catch some fabric in the piece at the top of the slit, so had to unpick it and re-do that part just once, so not too bad for a first attempt and it looks fairly neat. The next tricky part was the cuff.  It was easy enough to construct, but I must have measured incorrectly, so one of them did not have enough circumference to fasten!  A quick unpick and re-cut and it was soon matching the other cuff. I got to the point where the entire blouse was constructed and I just had the button holes and buttons to finish.  That was a bit scary as I could have ruined the whole project at this point!  I have not attempted button holes for at least 20 years, so the discarded cuff came in as a great piece to practice them on.  After around 10 practice attempts, ensuring that I had the length of the button hole just right to fit the button, I took a deep breath and went for it.  Eleven button holes later, the blouse was almost complete.  I finished sewing on the buttons and was able to wear it with my jeans to my Dad’s 70th birthday dinner. I’m really pleased with the finished project.  As I took my time, it is nice and neat – even on the inside!  It’s such a great feeling wearing something that you have made yourself.  It’s so nice to have such a good fit and I’m really pleased with the fabric colour too – one of my favourite shades.

IMG_1358 IMG_1361 IMG_1567

Here is the last button just being stitched on and the completed blouse.  I’m off to make a skirt pattern now.  It has been drafted by Kate of FabricKated, so I’ll report back on how that goes.  You can see a glimpse of it here with my blouse – it’s not finished yet – I’ve got to add the lining, but couldn’t wait to try it on!