Unlock Your Style case study | Michelle Stedman | Raising Will

Who am I to be fabulous? One reader’s Unlock Your Style journey

Michelle StedmanFashion, How to 35 Comments

Editor’s note: I was completely blown away by the passion of the beautiful women not only coming to my blog for the Unlock Your Style series in January but with the way they embraced the challenges and made changes to their life because of it. One such reader was Michelle Stedman. I’m thrilled that Michelle is here today sharing her journey. If you’d like to share your story in a guest post, pop me an email: [email protected]

I had always just winged it when it came to fashion; buying on impulse and filling my cupboards with random bits and pieces.

When Nikki announced the Unlock Your Style Styling You Style Holiday Camp on New Year’s Day, I had no idea how it would change my wardrobe. I had no idea how it would change my perception of
“style”, and I certainly didn’t expect it to change how I felt as a mother.

The Style Holiday Camp dared to ask me where I was at with my style and how I would describe it. “Ummm … I wear runners with jeans…” was the first thought that came to mind as I hung my head. Five months on from baby number two I found myself surrounded by breast pads, patches of baby spew, half-eaten sandwiches and “matergatory” clothes – what you wear in that purgatory between your pregnancy and pre-baby body.

Staring blankly at my wardrobe, it was haphazard and ill-fitting. My shoes were frightfully uncoordinated. My accessories were buried at the bottom of a bathroom drawer. My conservatism hit me in the face, and I let it… For too long I’d let my neglected wardrobe wear me and I didn’t realise how dejected that made me feel.

Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Marianne Williamson

I decided I was what Nikki called a “work-in-progress”.

What did I want my style to be? What did I even like? Enter Pinterest. The board I’d been pinning too for months brimmed with ruffles, stripes, blazers, dresses, navy, orange, green and crisp whites. “Why aren’t these in my wardrobe?!” I screamed. My inside voice *hmmmd* at me in a nonplussed tone.

And so the great cull began. I literally off-loaded two-thirds of my wardrobe and to my horror I discovered I had next-to-no basics. How did I have eight formal dresses and not one plain tee?! No wonder I always had nothing to wear.

As the Style Holiday Camp rolled on, everything started falling into place. A list was written and guidelines set – I was to build up my basics and gradually pepper in some show-ponies from the style I dreamed of. It was shopping time.

I have always been pretty good at shopping. But Nikki’s challenge called for mindful shopping – shopping for what you need in your wardrobe rather than anything that takes your fancy – and in the past I’ve been no good at that. I’ve also taken too long to realise that you need to ignore the numbers on your clothes and remember if it looks good and you feel fabulous, buy it. I’m guilty of purchasing the smallest size I could squeeze into, rather than the size that truly fitted.

With list in hand I’ve already started adding to my improved wardrobe: basics, colour, accessories, and a show-pony or two.

Unlock your style: A Case Study | Michelle Stedman Raising WillBut probably the most confronting piece of the Styling You Holiday Camp for me was to delve into the world of lipstick. I’ve never been a heavy user of makeup. Then I had kids and my complexion went out the window. And still I only really use BB cream and some mascara, so lippy is a big step for me. Alas, on a recent trip to Melbourne, in the heady goodness of Myer’s beauty department, I submitted myself to a makeup counter.

The lady at Chanel was very sweet and as we picked our way through a few colours, she pointed out Mademoiselle, mentioning it was their best seller. As soon as the colour touched my lips, with a glance in the mirror I was addicted. I have never seen how lipstick could complete a face, until that moment. I wore it proudly out of the store like a new pair of shoes and found myself giddy with excitement upon closer inspection of my new purchase. Nothing like a chiselled Chanel to make a girl feel special.

Unlock Your Style case study | Michelle Stedman | Raising Will

Reflecting back on my style journey, I think I’ve turned a corner. No longer do I spend fruitless hours looking into my wardrobe for things to wear or change five times before walking out the door. I’ve learnt that I make the rules and that a scarf can hide many child-induced clothing emergencies.  I now shop with purpose, feel more confident in my fashion choices and have a new-found clarity and positivity about my self-image.

Yes, I’m a mum and I deal with breastfeeding, baby spew, vegemite hands and finger-paint splatter on a daily basis. At least now I look and feel good doing it. Thanks so much Nikki.

How did the Unlock Your Style holiday camp affect you? What changes have you made to your wardrobe life since the beginning of the year?


Michelle Stedman | Raising WillMichelle is a blogger from rural Victoria playing mum to two little boys and wife to a bigger boy. Her blog, Raising Will , follows Michelle’s chocolate eating, rose smelling, parenting adventures. When she’s not blogging or glued to Twitter, Michelle enjoys writing lists, taking photos, drinking wine with friends and generally being creative.  Feel free to drop in and say Hi to Michelle on Twitter or Facebook. All cheesecake donations will be accepted graciously …

Comments 35

  1. Yay Michelle! I know how you feel – my wardrobe had become overloaded yet I had ‘nothing to wear’. I have been culling and sorting and giving away and am almost at that point where my wardrobe is fabulous and totally me. As an example, this morning I slept in super late and got up foggy headed and with no idea what I was going to wear to work (we have casual Fridays but I still like to look professional). My old wardrobe would have had me throwing up my hands in despair and wondering if I could just crawl back under the covers and take a sickie… but my current wardrobe made things simple. Dark denim pencil skirt, white rolled sleeve collared T (like a crisp white shirt without the ironing!), leopard print skinny belt and nude cage heels. Simple makeup and a neat pony and I’m at work on time and feeling fab 🙂 I have been amazed by how much my smaller, but more flexible and more ‘me’, wardrobe has made it easier to find something to wear than my overflowing wardrobe ever did.

  2. Isn’t it liberating to refind your style?
    Nikki has been helping me do just that for the last couple of years that I have been reading her blog.
    You look great Michelle. Enjoy your refound style confidence. 🙂

  3. Love your post. Love the quote. Loved Nicky’s tutorial. I wasn’t quite ready to play but have certainly earmarked the post to come back to. One tip that I took away immediately was how much accessories can change / dress up an outfit. The Lippy tip – so true. A dear friend told me that a whole back and every day I make sure that there is some form of Lippy in my bag. And if I may add to your quote (which as I said to you on Twitter is in the front of my diary) – ” and when we let our own light shine we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear our presence automatically liberates others.” Go forth and shine……

      1. I know. It is an awesome speech. Well worth finding a copy of the full thing and having it for reference. I look at my copy every day.

        1. It truly is amazing – here’s the full version for those interested:

          “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
          – Marianne Williamson

  4. Michelle, your lippy is fabulous. When I was in NY recently I went into every single Sephora I came across and tried on a million reds until I was finally brave enough to buy my first ever red lippy- I love it now but took awhile to not get a fright every time I saw myself in a mirror 🙂

  5. Michelle where did you get that scarf? I NEED IT NOW!!!! The Husband would sayI don’t need another scarf becuase the 30 I own are all lovely and well worn. Me, I say I really NEED one like that.

    1. Ha ha! Do we have the same husband?! 😉
      There are two scarves above, the first in the larger picture is from Sussan and I hope that’s the one you like, because the one in the smaller picture was a gift from my brother – he knows my scarf addiction too well – and I have no idea where it’s from… Perhaps from a little boutique in Bath Lane, Bendigo, Victoria.

  6. Love this. The lipstick looks fabulous on you. Thank you for sharing Michelle. You look fabulous and congratulations on accomplishing all that you have.

  7. Great story Michelle – you look great and Nikki, I can’t believe how organised you always are with your Blog. To get this story out while the Unlock your Style series is still fresh in our minds is commendable.

    I read your series while on an overseas trip which wasn’t geared up for wardrobe shopping, however I mentally checked off my wardrobe items as we travelled around. I realised I really could benefit from a blazer. The day after we returned home I met a friend for coffee at our local mall, and with a bit of extra time up my sleeve browsed through the shops. Imagine my delight when I spied a Sportscraft blue and white pinstripe blazer reduced with an extra 40% off that day. Score!!!!

  8. That is a great story Michelle, thanks for sharing. I bet Nikki you were chuffed to see the impact your series had. I know for me, it was about the mindful shopping. Thinking about how things would fit into my wardrobe and my lifestyle. And sometimes paying a little bit more got you the perfect thing.

  9. brilliant! and exactly why I love blogging…real readers and real women doing the writing with real results xo

    what I got from your challenge is I had a million basics (hello about 65 thousand white tees/singlets) and not enough show ponies…plus it was quick for me to see that I needed a couple of blazers to smarten up the casual items I love for a meeting or something similar…I couldn’t face the mall so a couple of days ago sat down to some internet show pony and blazer shopping…just waiting for them to arrive…and will be blogging the results 😉


  10. You look fabulous, Michelle and reading about your style journey is an inspiration to all of us who hoard and have wardrobes full of clothes, but ‘nothing to wear’. Yes, there’s nothing like Lippy to make a girl feel good about herself and the Chanel colour you chose is lovely on you. Nikki’s series has been a great reminder that we can, and should, understand some basics and then make our own fashion rules and branch out from the norm of our daily clothes routine.

  11. This a a fabulous story Nikki and Michelle I am so glad you now feel stylish and have things to wear ,to someone like me who has always found it easy to style my wardrobe ,with a few mistakes along the way I probably have taken for granted that I can do it,working in fashion has helped but I always wear things I love except when doing cleaning.
    I loved hearing your journey and that you now feel confident and you look great ,that is what I love about this blog it shows real women ,not models and makes us embrace and love who we are ,and not some concieved idea of who we should be.
    You look stunning Michelle and you will be a happier person because of your new wearable wardrobe.

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