Rejuvinating Your Style: Interviewing Brenda Kilgallon
I'm going to admit something: I used to be a bit of a twitter-sceptic. Before creating an account for the-Bias-Cut.com I didn't really understand its use, and was a bit dubious about the idea of meeting people through it. But I've been converted.
As well as a great way to quickly connect with you, it has been an amazing tool for meeting like-minded style lovers and professionals. One person I met a couple of months ago is Brenda Kilgallon (if you're a member of our Facebook "Ageism Is Never In Style" Forum you'll recognise her from posting those wonderfully insightful "Style Saboteurs" posts).
Brenda is the founder of 'Style Rejuvination' and offers a styling service that includes wardrobe management to personal shopping. Her mission is to work with women to find their inner style goddess and to have the confidence to express it. As she says, she's a 'baby boomer doing what she loves best'.
As someone who shares such similar values to the-Bias-Cut.com, as well as having a very inspiring personal story, I had to interview her to find out more...
Hi Brenda - Thank you for kindly agreeing to being interviewed today! What inspired you to become an Image Consultant , or as you prefer to refer to yourself, and Image Partner ?
As I entered my fifties I was dismayed to see so many women of my age and older virtually give up on looking their best OR stick doggedly to the same style they had in their thirties. Added to this I have always (even as a small child) loved clothes and dressing up. The media seems to obsessed with the latest trends and images of young thin people which is almost impossible for older women to relate to. I don’t call myself an Image Consultant for 2 key reasons. Firstly, the word image conquers up hiding behind something – putting on a mask as it were. Secondly, the word consultant implies I am the fount of all knowledge and my clients are all helpless. My clients are successful women in their own right and I see my role as one of guidance. I prefer to work with my clients in a partnership relationship.
Yes I agree, it's so important to work with your clients. Understanding their feelings, preferences and lifestyles is integral, and you can't just force your own views onto them - that's hardly going to build confidence! So how do you work with your clients to develop their style and to show off their personality?
I ask them about their greatest style challenges. This could be dressing for special events of looking ‘smart casual’. I ask questions to find out their best and worst garment and why. I ask what they feel like when they open their wardrobe. What they want to get out of working with a style partner. By having meaningful conversations with them I get a sense of their personality and their relationship with themselves.
That's great. Taking the time to truly understand your client, rather than offering standard superficial advice makes such a difference. So what's the most rewarding aspect of your work?
It's to see the transformation that happens when clients wear an outfit that makes them look good and feel good. The expression on their faces is great to see. They seem the stand a little taller too. I also like to hear the feedback they get from friends and colleagues about their ‘new’ look.
I know that feeling! It's what's most rewarding about founding the-Bias-Cut.com too. But from my experience, aside from celebrities, I've found that those who tend to go to personal stylists, image consultants and style partners do tend to be 40+ women. Why do you think that is?
Women 40+ tend to fall into 3 categories. They may have had promotion and they need to revamp their look to reflect this. Added to this they often don’t have the time needed to create a new wardrobe. The second category is where they are fed up with wearing the same style and want a change but don’t know where to start.
The third category is women who have undergone life changing events – may be weight gain due to medical condition, have lost all confidence in how they look, feel they have a second lease of life and want a complete change. The tend to all share the same dilemma of not knowing where to start.
That makes a lot of sense, and those are also the reasons I've observed. Another thing that I've understood is that 40+ women generally tend to be less interested in trends, and instead want to explore their own sense of style. But equally the occasional subtle nod towards a trend keeps a look fresh and modern. Do you agree?
I think all women of whatever age need to keep their look contemporary to prevent looking dated and frumpy. Introducing a trend – if it suits them and is not too outrageous – can work. In most instances keeping to classic looks WITH a slight twist or surprise works well. For example; I am 65 and sometimes wear a denim jacket but attach a fairly large vintage brooch to it & occasionally wear it with a posh silk pashmina. To follow trends slavishly is foolish and expensive.
Couldn't agree more! So then what is the one piece you believe all women should invest in?
A jacket - without exception!
And what's the most important factor to consider when developing your own personal style?
A combination of getting the proportions right for your shape, ensuring the colour works for you and that you feel really good when you look in the mirror.
Yes, feeling good on the insider makes such a difference to how you look on the outside. Being based in the North, and I'm in the South, I'm intrigued to know: do you think there are any differences between styles around the UK?
I’ve observed that in the North women tend to get ‘more dressed up’ when they go out whereas in the South women are casual.
How interesting. I can't say I'm one of those casual southern women - any opportunity to dress up and I'm there! I love adding a touch of effortless glamour to a look, a bit like Lauren Bacall. Do you have any style icons?
Currently Ines De La Fressange who exemplifies French Chic and Giovanna Battalgia who always adds a surprise to her overall look. From the past my style Icon was also Lauren Bacall! So feminine but with an edge.
Wow, we really do think alike! People so often go for Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Katherine Hepburn or Coco Chanel. They're undoubtedly all gorgeously stylish women, but it's nice when people reference others too!
So finally, what are your 3 top style tips you can recommend?
- Learn how to shop. Know what is in your wardrobe and then make a list of what you want. You should aim to be able to create as many outfits as possible from the content of your wardrobe. Do some research BEFORE you shop. Brands you know suit you etc. Take your list and buy what is on it as this will help prevent you from making poor buying decisions. Shop alone to stay focussed.
- Learn how to accessorize. The difference the right footwear, handbag, jewellery etc can make to your overall look is amazing.
- Always be well groomed. Make sure your hair is cut well and in a style that suits you. Don’t fall into the habit of wearing too much make up. Never wear down at heel or scuffed footwear.
All great tips! Thank you so much Brenda!
Make sure to check out Brenda's Style Rejuvenation blog - full of great tips and inspiration. Plus Brenda is also a Life Style Consultant with Temple Spa - a skincare range. You can find out more here.