This Year’s Word Podcast Shownotes: Episode 7, Look Good Feel Good
“If you look good you feel good, and if you feel good you look great.”
Hello and welcome to This Year’s Word Podcast, I’m your host, Courtney Symes. I’m an author, entrepreneur, mum, and wife. In this podcast series, I will share my Word of the Year experience as I explore the meaning of the word “Love” and how you can use this word to change your life, one day at a time.
In the next few episodes, I will be exploring how to LOVE the skin you’re in by reiterating that self-care is self-love when it comes to the physical aspect of our lives.
In today’s episode I will be talking about the value of spending time on our appearance, and I why I believe how we look is important – not because of the way other people react to our appearance, but because how we look impacts the way we feel about ourselves.
I’ll start with a personal story from my childhood when I recall my grandma’s beauty regime, which was very simple and consisted of soap and water, talcum powder after bathing, then moisturising her face with Oil of Ulan (now known as Olay). She would then apply a bit of pressed power to her face and some lippy and hair curlers if she was going down the street. I don’t recall her wearing perfume, and if she did it was only on special occasion. This is a far cry from my routine, and even my mum’s routine.
The thing is, my grandma always believed it was “selfish” or “vain” to spend too much time “tarting” yourself up or looking in the mirror. As I’ve grown older, I now completely disagree with her. Spending time on your appearance does not make you shallow – on the contrary, I believe it demonstrates respect and love for oneself. I have always taken pride in my appearance and don’t believe it has compromised my other values. In short, sorry Grandma, but I believe you can still be a decent person and look smart.
I have a “beauty” routine that includes bathing at least once a day (twice if I exercise), applying make-up, and doing my hair. My routine has definitely been “trimmed” since having children, but the increased pressure on time has made me realise that I don’t need to spend hours in front of the mirror to look like I’ve ‘made an effort’.
There is a beautiful quote in A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles, where Marianne Williamson writes that make-up and clothes can have a positive role in our lives if we use them with a loving intention:
“The point is not to seduce another person but to add light to the world in the form of beauty and pleasure. The meaning of things is how much we use them to contribute happiness to the world. Clothes and other personal effects are no different than any other artforms. If we perceive them lovingly, they can lift the vibrations and increase the energy in the world around us.”
If our intentions for using clothing and make-up come from a place of self-expression and pleasure, and aren’t used to conceal insecurities about ourselves, or to compete with others, they become a tool to joyfully express and celebrate our unique personalities. The easiest way to find joy in your appearance is to identify your own personal style.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to determine your personal style:
1. What do you spend most of your day doing? For example, if you are working, where do you work, how do you get to work, does your work have a uniform or dress code? Are you a stay-at-home mum, or do you have an active job?
2. What colours do you like to wear? These could be colours that complement your complexion, colours other people have commented look good on you, or colours that make you feel good whenever you see them. You don’t have to invest in complete outfits or make-up in these colours (especially if you are drawn to bold colours), instead you can incorporate them into your look with accessories such as scarves or jewellery.
3. What is your body shape? Are there certain types of clothing you feel more comfortable in, or that fit and look better, such as trousers versus a dress or loose blouses versus tight tops. For example, I really despise anything tight around my waist, so tight trousers are out for me.
4. If you wear make-up, which features of your face would you like to emphasise? You can highlight beautiful eyes with the right mascara or an incredible smile will radiate with the right shade of lipstick. If you don’t currently wear make-up but would like to experiment and introduce a little to your routine, start with something simple, such as mascara or lipstick. Both of these can be applied in under a minute and have a big impact, even if you don’t apply anything else.
Once you have established your personal style, by determining what you like and what works for your current lifestyle, I recommend creating a personal ‘style uniform’ that works for your body shape and lifestyle.
Your style uniform will consist of:
1. Daytime clothing and accessories – this includes work clothing, if applicable, as well as casual clothes
2. Special occasion clothing that reflects your personal style. These items in this category can be a bit bolder or more “experimental”.
3. Make-up for daytime and evening. Same deal with the clothing – neutral tones for daytime and bolder options such as vibrant colours, black and metallic shades for special occasions.
The benefits of a Style Uniform is that it reduces decision fatigue, saves time, and helps maintain a positive body image. Most importantly of all though, it prevents those moments you spend looking forlornly into your wardrobe muttering “I don’t have anything to wear!”
Your Style Uniform will reduce a few of the decisions you make each day, as well as remove doubt about how you look every time you get dressed – especially if you are not confident putting clothes together.
You might be familiar with a couple of well-known blokes who are champions of the Style Uniform. The late Steve Jobs was a fan of black turtlenecks, jeans and New Balance sneakers, and more recently Mark Zuckerburg is often spotted in his signature grey t-shirt and jeans. Reese Witherspoon is also a Style Uniform advocate with her jacket, jeans and classic heal combos. In fact, if you look closely at anyone who you think has their style sorted, you’ll probably find it is because they’ve established their signature style with a Style Uniform.
Yes, you could simply purchase seven pairs of the same jeans, and the same top in three different colours, but it’s more fun when you recognise the specific qualities of the clothing you love, such as style, fabric, colour, patterns, etc. and then work to add more of these to your wardrobe.
I personally realised the importance of a style uniform when I was pregnant with my first child. I knew I would change physically, and I wasn’t sure my body would return to the shape it was before pregnancy. I wanted to remove any pressure on myself that it should, just because I had nothing in my wardrobe that fit me. I wanted to be prepared for this change so I could embrace it and avoid grieving for my old life and body.
I have always loved dresses, especially loose stretchy ones, and realised how comfortable and flattering these were throughout my pregnancy, as well as postpartum. I opted for knee-length dresses that had some shaping around the neckline and bust. Pleats were also great for expanding over my pregnant belly, and then gently draping over my postpartum pot-belly.
I couldn’t get enough of dresses made from fine fabric blends, such as viscose, bamboo and Modal, which felt luxuriously soft. I wanted dresses that would last and look great long after pregnancy, so I didn’t compromise on quality.
There was one particular dress style that worked well and I bought it in several colours, including black. I then accessorised these dresses with scarves, cardigans and shoes that complemented the colours I had chosen. This dress style had short sleeves, which worked during the hot summer months, but could easily be layered with a cardigan or jacket during winter. These dresses were comfortable enough to wear around the house, but could easily be dressed up with accessories when I went out. And finally, the lightweight viscose stretch fabric they were made from was machine washable and didn’t require ironing – DONE DEAL!
Nine years on, I still wear these dresses regularly and feel as great as I did when I first bought them. This is a super simple formula you can apply to your lifestyle to find your own style uniform for any occasion.
An important note – your personal style will change over time. Whilst it might not change dramatically, don’t be too rigid in your approach to what you wear. There are life events, such as: having a child, growing older, career changes, retirement, and a million other reasons which all impact our clothing and make-up choices. Go with the flow and embrace change. Look at any changes in your personal style as a new chapter and an opportunity to try new things.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode, and that I’ve assured you it’s not selfish to spend time on your appearance.
Before I wrap up today, I have some incredibly exciting news to share with you. I am delighted to announce the official launch of my new book, A Year of Love: Finding peace one day at a time. It’s been an exhilarating journey getting this book out into the world, and I’m so proud to finally share it with you. You can find it at alittlepinkbook.com/books.
Thanks for listening, and I hope you can join me next time.
I’ll leave you with today’s manta: I love my entire body – it is uniquely beautiful and there is no one in this world like me. Rather than focusing on flaws, I celebrate my body by allowing myself time to spend time on my appearance and enhance the features I love the most.