Clothes shopping is never what I think it’s going to be. I have high hopes of what I’m going to find, and how it’s going to look, and they are usually dashed. I step dispiritedly from the changing rooms, after half an hour of wrestling myself into articles that once on, look nothing like they did on the hanger, with an armful of clothes to hand back to the attendant, and feeling that no shop in the country seems to stock clothes that fit or suit me properly. It’s a pretty miserable process, and it’s not helped by the culture of comparison that the media is still pushing, with no sign of abating. Until I found Styled by Susie – she’s a stylist, but it’s so much more than new clothes. Susie offers a new mindest for thinking about yourself, and others as well.
Women are constantly encouraged to assess and criticise each other – mainly by other women. It’s a crazy way to be, and I only woke up to how crazy it is a little while ago. It’s as if we are all expected to feel so insecure about what we have to offer the world, that we should feel better about ourselves by deflecting attention towards others, who we can judge for making a far worse fist of things than us – or that we should be beating ourselves up about what a terrible job we are doing in comparison with other paragons of virtue and their perfect lives. And it’s not restricted to a single element of of life. Career mums vs stay at home mums, too fat, too thin, bottle feeding vs breast feeding, goth, hippy, lots of children, no children, religious or atheist, British or not – whatever you are, and if you chose it or not, you are likely to be judged for it, and vile publications like the Daily Mail stir it up and normalise it in front of our faces every day.
So when I found this wonderful woman – Susie Hasler, founder and owner of Styled by Susie – several years ago, I also found her attitude of building each other up, complimenting the beauty in each other, and dressing the body you have (not the one you, or anyone else, thinks you ought to have) quite revolutionary.
Susie is a qualifed and award-winning stylist. She and her assistant stylist Sarah can dress anybody, whatever their body shape and colouring, and make them look beautiful. Her ultimate aim is to make all her clients feel confident and happy in the bodies they have, by favouring styles and colours that accentuate all the best bits, and skim over the bits they’re not happy with. Susie’s genius, and what makes her particularly special, is her ability to pin down your style personality too – and to find you clothes that you never would have tried on your own, but which turn out to suit you perfectly.
And perhaps not surprisingly, there is a huge appetite for this supportive, positive attitude towards your fellow woman. Over the last four years I have watched Styled by Susie and its associated online community grow from a few online customers and personal shops a week, to a 6k-strong Facebook group; a six-week wait time for an online style analysis from her; a six-month wait or more for a personal shop; and two employees to help her manage it all.
And yesterday, my sister and I finally realised a dream, and had our personal shop with her. It was the most fun I have ever had on a shopping trip.
Susie had a changing room full of clothes waiting for us, based on what she knew about us already. She was so enthusiastic, so complimentary about how we looked, and listened so carefully to what we were looking for. The whole morning was full of smiles, fun and laughter – I have never enjoyed shopping so much, or come away with so many things that I actually love.
There’s so much more to Susie than buying some new clothes. She has created in me a whole new mindset around style, my attitude towards myself and others, and how to think about dressing. I’m so much happier for it.
Ladies, I beg you to check out Facebook page and website; and if you think you could use at little Styled by Susie in your life, join the Facebook community. It is a completely positive and uplifting place to be – if you don’t like an outfit someone else has posted, you scroll past. No unpleasant comments, no talk about dieting or pressure to change your body, and no swimsuit pictures. And I cannot recommend the style analysis and shopping facilities (online or in person) highly enough. It’s all about loving yourself, and being kind to each other.
It all helps to reassure me that changes are coming. In the face of all the rising hatred and intolerance that appears to be growing in strength around the world, with the rise of the “Far Right”, wall building, and union breaking, little happy and positive whispers of change like this can be heard all around us. We don’t have to put up with it – we can be kind. There’s enough darkness for all of us to shine in, without putting out each other’s lights.
The clothes are out there – and with Styled by Susie’s help, I can find them!