Stacy and Me (What I Learned From Stacy London, Style Savant)

I've been watching What Not To Wear since it first debuted on the BBC and I've watched every format since. When I received an email inviting me to meet Stacy London as part of our Step Up Women's Network Luminary Circle group, you can bet your favorite handbag that this email received the rapid the attention that it deserved.Stacy was exactly the person I expected her to be, the same energetic, funny, direct and sometimes silly person we see on TV. She was also a Stacy that I hadn't "met" before-- open, humble, generous with frank insights into her own growth and path. This small group of women--   women that take good care of themselves, women that are CEOs of our own companies, women reinventing their careers, women inspired and motivated by Stacy's success, women of style, women waging battle with their closets, women that wanted to see an icon of style up close and personal-- had an opportunity to ask anything. As an open book with a new book, we enjoyed an opportunity to cover any topic with her. Stacy delivered "personal." This is what I gleaned, style lessons. life lessons...

  • We have to get uncomfortable in order to get comfortable. Push yourself.
  • The font of mentorship and support in women's groups is deep and wide. Find one.
  • We teach what we need to learn. Listen to yourself. Look in the mirror.
  • Women are trained by men to make business decisions with their heads, but a woman's sense about something can be an equal if not more valuable gauge. Be smart, but honor your intuition.
  • Every experience may not be part of a plan, but can click into place like a puzzle built from pieces from various jigsaw-puzzle boxes. Think about your puzzle pieces.
  • If you're going to offer criticism, offer an alternative. Stacy practices this as a stylist. What if we gave ourselves this courtesy? And so...
  • Finding happiness means applying "yes, and" to our circumstances. Go ahead, complain. Get it all out. Acknowledge your limitations. Then finish that sentence with an answer.

As a business with a mission of helping kids find their creative confidence and building esteem in this big world, I asked Stacy about developing and supporting self-respect in young girls. Stacy says:

  • Girls need to be brave as they find themselves, define their style and build the confidence in their own choices.
  • Fashion is a business and is distinctly separate from style, and style is choosing what you want and don't want to take from fashion. Like choosing one brand or color of backpack over another, choose what works for you, your objective, your taste, your budget. We need to reclaim our autonomy.

I've always believed in the process before the product. On Stacy's show I have of course loved the styling and those dresses that she wears so well. Despite my own addiction (just calling it what is is) to style, I may have most enjoyed the internal transformation, the journey before the colorful-shiny-textured-accessorized destination. This has been true in my experience designing large corporate organizations, developing business and software systems, building curricula and designing creative experiences for the students at our workshop (and maybe also explains why my risotto takes at least an hour longer than it should when friends are in the kitchen with me.) It has been a fundamental part of our Wishcraft Workshop philosophy and the driver behind establishing a fun place where the creative process would always be valued, where kids curate what goes up on the wall or decide the silhouette and hemline of a skirt, where the experience of making and feeling of autonomy trumped everything else. There it is again: autonomy. Creative sovereignty. Pride.She calls herself a "style savant" (to be fair, I think she said that her friends gave her the nickname.) A savant is an expert, certainly. Stacy may have shown us as much sage as savant. Stacy asserts that personal style reflects what's happening inside and her job is to peel those layers to help ignite transformation which usually happens on multiple levels. The same is true for making art, be it classical and fine or DIY and crafty. The creative process is one rich with markers of significance and our personal story. The product, whether we like it or not, whether we think others will like it or not, may be less relevant to our happiness than the burgeoning seeds of exploration and the growth. I don't know any artist who doesn't believe that they are on a path, that they cannot continue to "do better." Where then might this segment of the creative class be able to take us?Stacy says that personal style is too good of an opportunity for self-expression to pass up. It is so clear now why her philosophy has always resonated and how watching those What Not To Wear episodes, reading her books and now meeting her are part of my many disparate puzzle pieces gravitating with increasing speed toward one another. Any opportunity to express ourselves creatively is just too good an opportunity to pass up. Do it for yourself and be brave, girls. Be brave. [Stacy, I've paraphrased and processed your words through my crochet-cap covered filter. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and giving me the opportunity to pass it forward.]