Figuring out your style

Getting the once-over from an appearance expert gives Gill South the confidence to put her best foot forward.

Feeling good about the way you look does wonders for your state of well-being and self-esteem. I’m coming to see former NZ Herald fashion editor and Your Style guru, Susan Axford, who says this session is all about empowering me. 

Stripping my face of makeup she puts me in front of a well-lit mirror to see what colours suit me. She has her own colours system which categories whether a person has either cool or warm undertones to their skin. We both agree that the colours which suit me most are those with warm undertones. They are rich autumn colours - muted green, olive, brown, dark teal, khaki and camel with ivory and cream. Golds, rusts and salmon are also good. White is a no-no. Black is not ideal but is fine as long as I don’t wear it next to my face, says Susan the realist.

“Susan’s can-do manner is energizing and her enthusiasm infectious - my sense of well-being is definitely enhanced.”

As for my makeup - my lipstick has too much red in it, it needs more brown. And if you wear glasses like I do, don’t have too much eye makeup - it’s all about the lipstick. Thank goodness, I’ve always been rubbish with eyeliner. As for hair colour, don’t deviate dramatically from your natural colour, it’s important to keep the same undertone, she says. I’ve lost sight of my natural hair colour but I’ve stopped trying to be blond in the past few years so think I’m on the right track.

Susan is also going to help me dress to make the most of my shape. Susan measures me from head to toe, looking at my vertical figure type and horizontal proportion. I am close to 5ft 5in, or 1.55m. I have a short torso, as I’ve always known, but what I discover is that while I have relatively long legs at the thigh, they are shorter from the ankle to the knee. This means that I have to be careful with skirt lengths. They should either end at the knee, or 25cm up from the ground.

I remember Annah Stretton telling me I am a tulip in her system, which categories women into flower shapes. Susan says I am a rectangle and the best clothing style for rectangles is a structured and tailored look, she advises. I am to go for straight-cut jackets with squared shoulders and no waist. Pattern should be geometric and abstract. After measuring my wrist, Susan tells me that I am large boned. This means all my accessories need to be quite generous. Think amber beads and more bracelets, she says.

By the end of the session, I feel like I know more about my assets and how to keep eyes away from y defects. Susan’s can-do manner is energizing and her enthusiasm infectious - my sense of well-being is definitely enhanced. I have loved having my penchant for certain colours confirmed. And I have always liked a structured look for work, and vow to insert this into my everyday.

Gill South, NZ Herald


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