‘Dressing your personality’, how does it feel saying those words to yourself?

This is why I ask – I was commissioned to make a coat for a fellow designer, my friend Karen Huggins children’s wear designer for ‘Little Huggins’.

Karen has a beautiful smile, an effervescent personality that accompanies a mind constantly coming up with new ideas, so when we spoke about her ‘style’ of coat I had to take into account her personality.

But how often do we do that for ourselves I wonder, consider how we dress from the viewpoint of our personality, the complex part of our being that we are all too often getting to know years later. It’s interesting for me to note that we can be quite clear about what we don’t like, in terms of design, colour, garment shape/style, but not necessarily be as adamant when it comes to knowing what we would like to wear.

So where do you start?

I like to start from how do you want to show up?

By that I mean if you don’t already put aside other people’s viewpoints and dress for you, it’s the first aspect we need to look at. You have to dismiss those voices of ‘you can’t wear’ (fill in the blanks) – to what do I like to wear, in other words this is your time to give yourself permission to dress as you please, it’s time to play dress up.

With the exception of uniforms and their formality, dressing for your personality is your way of expressing who you are; I have coined the phrase ‘the opinions of others are statements and not facts’ especially in what you wear.

As an example I came across one individual who loves dresses that speak to her femininity, enables her to move freely, whilst also paying homage to her long slender legs, she also loves to wear heels and dancing. I showed her how a handkerchief hemline dress would answer all of her requirements, and then we played with accessorising with strappy high heels, unusual but not cumbersome jewellery alongside the many ways she planned to wear her hair creating different looks. It was a lot of fun which let’s face it, that is what dressing up is supposed to be.

Now back to Karen’s story: she was getting ready to go on a Caribbean Cruise however, before boarding the plane and then cruise ship for sunshine, blue seas and palm trees Karen would have to tackle the cold English weather of harsh winds, and the possibility of snow!

Now I don’t know your feelings about this, but I feel that an airport is a great fashion catwalk, people standing around waiting for their gate to be announced, our eyes wander as we look at what others are wearing, the look they have put together. We catch ourselves looking at colours, fabrics, design and shape, it’s human nature and also an opportunity for you to unconsciously share with those around you a glimpse into your personality and wardrobe!

I was already aware of the bold colours Karen likes to wear, and looking at her fashion portfolio from years ago Karen’s design ideas were way ahead of their time so I had to match a personality that does not conform to fashion dictates. We were not hiding her voluptuous shape Karen posed for her before picture as we made fun of how the industry in their before/after pictures has the person appear to be sad and disappointed with life, before their unveiling of transformation! I did say Karen has a fun personality the actress in her no doubt.

But how will her personality be expressed in the design of her winter coat?

First I looked at fabrics, we had a purple corduroy floral embroidered fabric purple very much her colour however, I felt the need to break this up from being a solid block of colour injecting a contrast of surprise with texture and colour. Taking my lead from the embroidered flowers I found a pink bouclé fabric that sat comfortably with the purple corduroy. Now for the main design, I am looking at personality, shape, structure and fit; I also have to take into account, it’s a coat and its function is to provide comfort, warmth and protection.

I looked at design elements of 1920’s from architecture to the loose fitting coats of the era, their fluidity I wanted for Karen a garment that whilst structured would move with her body, plus she’s travelling. Which is why, I came up with the design idea of having the coat fitted from the neck to the waist and flaring from the hip.

With bespoke garments, I always start by making a bodice block toile, in this case using Karen’s measurements I am looking at the fit of this bodice from the shoulder line through to the hips, what I am looking for is balance, one side of us if often bigger than the other so finding harmony in symmetry is important.

All this happens before moving onto making another toile which will be a mock up of the garment in this case Karen’s coat, its important as it allows us to look at what works, and what doesn’t. In this case on making the toile for the coat we felt that style lines on the back of the garment could be raised higher, and too remove some of the flare in the lower part of the coat, this made for a more refined fit.

The sleeves two-piece would also carry with them the detail of contrast in fabric and shaping. The neckline originally Karen thought she would also wear a scarf, however the bouclé fabric stand collar served two purposes providing warmth and style without the need for scarf.

As the weeks went by and we continued with the fitting process from toile to working in the fabric of the coat I was watching Karen’s personality transform, it felt to me that she had got back into her groove of dressing up and having fun, taking time out of her busy schedule for herself. It’s something we often do without noticing, we make sure everyone else around us is fine and dandy, be it home or work or both, and we forget that we need to put ourselves on our own priority list.

The coat completed which we decided to name her ‘Crystal’ because of the amethyst purple which we now called amethyst the crystal known for calming the mind and the pink bouclé and we named rose quartz a symbol of unconditional love and peace.

The coat Crystal now complete it was time for a final fit, from our before to after I also learned that Karen would be attending a ‘girls night out’ that day, the timing was perfect especially as the evening was so cold. The next day I was informed Karen was on the receiving end of a flurry of complements as to her new look, a couple of days later I would be sent pictures from Karen as she glided around the airport soaking up the atmosphere of her personal catwalk before being called to the gate for departure.

I’d be happy to talk about your style and personality through clothes, we can start a conversation by email info@coralturner.com.

Let's keep the conversation flowing - thanks for sharing!