From Glam City Gal To A Country Flower Farmer
For those of you who know me well after all my years in the fashion, PR and media world, you will recognise that my style has always been faithful to a formula or philosophy. I have not changed my 'look' in 30 years! Though at no time has anyone told me I look boring, or yawn, same old, same old. Rather, I feel I have become 'known' for my style, which is synonymous with timeless, classic, chic and simple clothes.
I dress in the same way now as I did back in my late 20s when I was starting my career as one of the first personal shopping/wardrobe stylists in Melbourne. I've often talked in my Instagram LIVE chats - which I hope you are joining in on with fabulous women from around the world! - about how I got the job at David Jones - Australia’s premier department store - as a Personal Shopper/Wardrobe Stylist in the early 90s, and how I then went on to have a wonderful time of it as a freelance stylist for many years. My particular area of expertise was looking after ordinary women who needed support, advice and lots of tender loving care to help them shop, style and look good to feel fabulous in their everyday lives. I was never interested in being a 'celebrity' stylist, and they were not interested in me, most notably because my real expertise came in dressing women with a full figure. Something I knew all about! So I had a very happy career looking after a great many lovely women from all walks of life, in all ages and sizes, occupations, socio-economic circumstances, shapes and situations.
It was a most interesting concept as a job. I met women who five minutes earlier had been strangers, who then had to get undressed in front of me in a changing room. Standing in their knickers and their bra, feeling utterly vulnerable yet somehow comfortable with me, I helped them try on clothes that I had selected for them. I regarded it as a great privilege that women trusted me so completely. Forget ‘Married At First Sight', these women and I were bound together as strangers in an intimate way that has seen me form friendships and relationships that have lasted nearly 30 years.
From my very first client at David Jones - a young law graduate on her first job at a top city law firm - to my first customer of my own clothing collection, 'Sarah Foster Wardrobe Essentials' back in early 2000 - a woman who shared my curvy figure who had seen me in the social pages of the Sunday newspaper wearing one of my classic, white shirts - my ability for forming richly rewarding connections with so many women have been one of the great gifts in my life.
By being myself - with all my vulnerabilities on display as part of my offering - I was able to connect with other women who were also dealing with bodies that quite often didn't fit the standard-sized clothes hanging on the department store or boutique racks.
What one might consider a 'fault' or a 'problem', I turned into my greatest asset and strength. My very 'real' and 'ordinary' figure allowed me to communicate with women that a girl can feel and look fabulous if she knows herself well enough to accentuate her 'good' features and downplay her 'not-so-favourite' parts. All of which is achieved through clever styling and fabulous grooming. Well, that's my way of doing it anyway!
Most importantly though, I always encouraged women to know and focus on their inner beauty, that which is seen by everyone we encounter every day of our lives. Does anyone care if I am a size 16, 18, 14 or 400? It's a number. It doesn't even begin to touch on and reflect who I truly am.
I like to look smart and stylish, of course. I enjoy looking pretty and polished. I dress in a way to flatter my figure, such as wearing skinny-leg pants to show off my slim(ish) legs and skinny ankles; or to draw attention to my face through a well-cut shirt with a fab, stand-up collar. I wear nude flats to make me look taller and gold wedges to show off pretty feet. I wear classic, neutral colours on the bottom to slim my figure, though I love to add bold and bright colours or prints through my tops to bring attention upwards and minimise my middle. It's all styling smoke and mirrors. It all has a legitimate place in helping me to dress in a way that makes me feel upbeat and positive and able to put my best foot forward each day.
Though I also show my style through a warm and welcoming smile, a happy and infectious laugh, a kind and caring heart. I show my style through how I carry myself, how I look at and talk to people or how I approach someone to offer them a helping hand.
There are so many more important facets of a woman that matter to how she is present and accounted for in the world. It's nice to look pretty on the outside, but it's far more important to be pretty on the inside. I know which is more valuable to me.
So after all these years, I'm still a woman who has bits and pieces she plays up and bits and pieces she plays down when it comes to my personal style. I thought you might enjoy seeing my philosophy at work - especially if you are new to my posts - with these photos all taken on a trip to France and Italy in 2014, and then the last set of pictures from a trip to Paris and Provence in 2015. Just by the by, in these photos from the 2015 trip, you can see my eyes are swollen. Little did we know I was ill again with a new form of lymphoma (new compared to that of the first diagnosis in 2007) that had reared its ugly head and that I would return home to Australia to face a serious diagnosis and start nine months of chemo. BUT! Up until all that drama, my wardrobe was fabulous, and I always felt wonderful with how I put my clothes together and how I looked.
My 'chic, simple' approach to dressing made it all easy and do-able, and you can see in every photo that I stick to my 'formula'. When the pieces are plain, I then bring out the big gun accessories. Fab handbags and shoes, bracelets and bangles, big earrings, wraps and pashminas are all a key component of achieving an elegant ensemble in a relaxed and easy way.
Good grooming is also key to the mix, so a pretty manicure and pedicure is a must. As is working my hair, so it becomes a part of the whole look, so an up-do one day or slicked back and popped into a top-knot the next, it all works together like a jigsaw puzzle to create a style statement that stands the test of time.