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Inner and Outer Style by Malcolm Levene

Having spent a great deal of my life in the style and image arena, it still intrigues me how people focus solely on design, image & the way stuff looks. When I consider my style heroes, the individuals that come to mind are my wife, a Company Director & my late grandmother. Of course, there are some famous people, whose style I admire. However, my gaze for them is but fleeting. What my late grandmother, wife & the Director have in common is there attitude and ability to transcend challenges. No matter what their circumstances, their ability to communicate effectively, their verbal articulation and personality always shines brightly (in my grandmother’s case shone brightly).

In my opinion, a credible Outer Style is an outcome of having an authentic Inner Style. What I mean is this – an ability to empathise, reflect, be mindful and be highly aware of our behaviour. You could be clad in an outfit by a top designer, be fit and extremely well groomed. Is that enough to say you are a person of style? I think not. If only it were. Authentic style seems to be something occupied by the few. Those who are respectful, empathetic, optimistic, well-rounded and take care of the details.

By details I mean behave in a courteous manner, respond in good time to phone calls or requests. Or perhaps are ready to provide assistance and do so unconditionally. Also have a decent handshake. Imagine meeting a fashion or style icon, that shakes hands like a wet fish…

What we usually remember is anything that distracted us from focusing on the individual’s style. A naff handshake will do that. Our Inner Style can dictate our Outer Style, it often does. How we see ourselves is usually how others see us, or perceive us. In short, by improving our Inner Style, as if by osmosis our Outer Style becomes more defined. As far as attire is concerned – Wear your clothes, don’t let them wear you. What I mean is this, so often I see men and women who are attired in highly fashionable outfits, yet seem to appear as if they’re disconnected from them. It’s as if they’ve been told to wear this style these colours because they are in, not because it suits them. This conveys an inauthentic version of the individual.

When I was in the business of style and image, I felt it was incumbent upon me to fully understand the person’s taste level, values, body shape, colouring, age and personality. These aspects act as a guide, they help to complete their aesthetic jigsaw puzzle. I say jigsaw because discovering the final piece can be challenging. Does it fit properly? Does it match my existing wardrobe accurately enough? Is the picture now complete. In short, is your Outer Style a reflection of your Inner Style? Moreover, is it congruent? Of course be aware of your visual style, but ensure it feels both authentic and connected to your personality.

Before closing, I’d like to share a true story with you. In the late 80s my retail business was known to sell excellent, well designed clothes and accessories. Many clients occupied the world of entertainment. Country & Western singer, Lyle Lovett was a regular client. recently, Lyle contacted me through Twitter. He told me he still wears suits he purchased from me in the late 80s. That’s what I’d describe as having Style. Here’s Lyle’s website: www.lylelovett.com    

Start to become more stylish, by discovering your values, assets and personality. Is quality important? Are you familiar with the colours that flatter you? Do you know what kind of cut complements your body shape? Do you prefer natural fibres? These questions will enable you to make a better choice for you. Will also give your Inner Style an opportunity to express itself in the form of your body language, manners, reliability, excellent listening skills and ability to empathise.

Remember, once our Inner Style surfaces, our Outer Style becomes more authentic.

“Fashion can be bought. Style one must possess.” – Edna Woolman Chase


To find out more about Malcolm Levene visit: http://www.malcolmlevene.com/

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