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  • Kerryn Rutherford

Fashion isn't Frivolous

Fashion, and the personal style that comes from it, allows me to feel confident, express myself to the world and have control over the assumptions and narratives others may make in an initial interaction with me.

Fashion isn't frivolous. It is a powerful tool in your toolbox to keep you moving forward, in life, in your career, or when you feel like you've lost yourself. It can bring you back to you.

I'm speaking from experience.

Starting again, starting out, starting a-fresh, whatever you want to call it, takes courage, guts and gall. Unfortunately, these feelings dissipate.

In moments of self doubt, I need to have steps in place to silence that inner critic and keep pushing.

I have always loved fashion and clothes. I would pour over magazines, admire fashion bloggers and wonder why I couldn't seem to put outfits together with as much ease and style. I kept at it, knowing the confidence I felt when I put on an an outfit I felt great in.

Fashion is the armour to survive the reality of everyday life. - Bill Cunningham

On the days when I was at my lowest, I would put in the most effort with my clothes because, sometimes, you have to "fake it 'til you make it." Often, this would give me the boost I needed to keep going. It helped that I could express my creativity.

Then, at 28 years old, I looked at the career I was building for myself and I didn't see success. I was exhausted, emotional, moody, working 65 hour weeks and riddled with self-doubt and low confidence.

I resigned from my position as a solicitor and lived off my savings for three months whilst I recovered from burnout. I am lucky to have been with my, now, husband who supported me every step of the way.

During this time, I started playing with the clothes I owned, piecing together outfit combinations I hadn't thought to try. I did a 6 weeks style course that sought to teach women how to dress for their body type and determine their personal style.

The learnings I took from that course were invaluable. My top key takeaway? Your clothes are meant to fit you, not the other way around.

Defining my personal style gave me the confidence I needed to get back out there and take a chance in a new career. I applied for a few roles (got knocked down again) and landed a job working in sales at a beauty, health and wellness startup surrounded by incredibly creative and inspiring colleagues.

I then had the opportunity to style my friend for an event. We went shopping and pieced together a look for the wedding she was attending and added a few more pieces to her wardrobe that we felt were missing.

The messages I received from her were life-changing. She felt confident, beautiful and powerful and had clear outfits to wear on those days she wanted to feel smarter at work. Seeing her joy made me realise that I needed to do this every day for other people.

I furthered my studies by completing the Certificate in Personal Styling through the Australian Style Institute. Once I began the course, I knew I had finally found my niche.

"Don't be into trends. Don't make fashion own you, but you decide what you are, what you want to express by the way you dress and the way to live." — Gianni Versace

That's not to say that I haven't had moments of self doubt. In fact, I have them every day. Some days it is only a fleeting thought that I can swiftly shut down.

Other days, it's not as easy. On these days, I get up, dress up and show up (as my old mentor so aptly put it).

I dress up because I know that my personal style is a crutch I can lean on in these moments to make me feel powerful and confident. I can clothe myself in the armour I need to start the day and keep building Aura, because I believe in the power of personal style and the confidence it can bring.

I show up for myself, and for the men, women and non-binary clients who I haven't had the privilege of working with yet.

There is a power and confidence in determining your personal style and knowing how to dress for your body and lifestyle. Personal style is for everyone, not just the rich and famous.

And, if the Devil Wears Prada taught us anything, it's that fashion isn't frivolous.


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