How I went from dressing like a frump to fashion stylist

No matter who you are, when it comes to style EVERYONE has a journey.

Style is rarely something you’re “born” with. It’s something you develop over time, as you learn more about yourself, your body and what works for you in terms of clothes, colours and accessories.

And this is a journey that I know intimately, having been on it myself.

I’ve been that kid at school, with crooked teeth and nerdy, big, terribly unflattering glasses.

And thanks to the era I grew up in, I’ve worn some seriously awful late 80’s / early 90’s fashion trends 🙂



I’ve also experimented as a young adult, wearing some simply SHOCKING outfits and even more shocking hair!!

Quite simply, I didn’t have an understanding of what worked in terms of cuts, colour and accessories for me.

I literally wore the wrong necklines, drab colours and unflattering cuts. I looked much, much older than I was, and my hair and make-up did nothing to help.


How did I get myself out of this rut?


1. Take an interest in and learnt about fashion

Over the years, I forced myself to take an interest in fashion and style. I observed more keenly what others were doing.

I ASKED other women where they got their clothes and paid attention to what I liked about their outfits. In short, I was ready to LEARN and absorb all I could find out about what worked.

Slowly, I began to piece things together. Then, that understanding became an interest and finally a passion – until it eventually gave birth to my career as a personal stylist.


2. Keep a fashion diary

The best thing I ever did was to keep a “fashion diary” of my outfits and then examined every (sometimes cringe-worthy!) photo I took of myself.

This helps you to see which pieces of clothing are unflattering and why.

For example, looking at my old photos I realise that I was hiding behind baggy clothing, and wore clothes that were much too long – an especially bad mistake given I am so short! I also realised my footwear made me look stumpy!


16 02 27 Fashion fails 2


3. Change the lengths and shapes you’re wearing

Becoming aware of what I was wearing helped me steer my course. And the simplest change I made was to try THE EXACT OPPOSITE of what I was wearing!

Clearly what I was wearing wasn’t flattering. So I decided to try the exact opposite shapes and lengths that I would normally reach out for! While this wasn’t 100% fool proof, it certainly helped open my eyes!

For example, when you compare my “old” shoes and “new shoes” you’ll notice that I now often wear shoes that have a wide, open front (instead of covering most of my foot).

I also now wear a lot of asymmetric skirts with a soft drape, like this one from Tobi, instead of longer, straight hemlines.

All of this helps to soften my shape and elongate my silhouette so that I look taller than I am, and was part of my journey in learning how to wear pieces that flattered my shape and (petite) height.


Skirt from Tobi


4. Experiment!

In reflecting on my previous style, I realise that I never experimented with anything new.

Taking a risk doesn’t mean wearing out-there pieces that are age-inappropriate or wrong for you. But being conservative means not even trying anything out of the box at all, and this meant I always looked a few seasons “behind” and therefore a bit drab.

So when you’re next out in the shops, try something different. Pick up a piece that’s out of your comfort zone – something younger, more modern. It will be hit and miss – but even if it’s a miss, it won’t cost you a cent to just try it on! 🙂

It may not always work out but on occasion it may surprise you – just like this jumpsuit did for me! Not normally a fan of jumpsuits because they’re too long for me, this midi-length was just perfect and is one of the “edgier” trend pieces in my current wardrobe.


dressing like a frump to fashion stylist

Jumpsuit from Tobi


5. Know what colours suit you

I wrote a post recently on how to choose colours for your capsule wardrobe. I’ve had a few requests to write a post on how to choose colours that flatter you!

This post is coming soon, and is so important because choosing the wrong colours can drain your complexion and age you.

For example – compare the picture of old me taken some 18 years ago in really awful dark greys at the start of this post, to the photo below of me in lighter grey taken this year. The lighter grey takes years off me and is much more flattering.

Colour is also important because it injects fun and interest to your wardrobe. It doesn’t have to be bright, bold colours if that’s not your thing. Try colours that are more subtle for example this wine / burgundy colour – it still breaks things up so you’re not in black all the time and isn’t over the top.


Grey jumper from Abercrombie & Fitch

Wine skater dress from Tobi


Understanding and developing your style is not an overnight process. It begins with observation and being open to what’s new and fun around you. It’s also an acknowledgement that you will (like all of us!) have to “kiss a few frogs” before you find your prince (or true style in this case!).

I hope that sharing some of my style journey will inspire you to be open to where your journey can take you!


Can you relate to some of my fashion faux pas???!!! Let me know in the comments area below 🙂

PS. Want to learn how to create your own personal style? Learn how with my 6-week online style course Not About Size.


With wardrobe happiness,





By | 2017-09-07T08:39:56+10:00 February 26th, 2017|Fabulous Fashion|2 Comments


  1. Naomi February 27, 2017 at 8:28 pm - Reply

    Thanks for sharing, love seeing your style journey, hot pink dress and all.
    I think we all have those scary fashion moments we can look back and laugh at, for me it was more a ‘goth’ stage 🙂

    • Wendy Mak February 27, 2017 at 9:58 pm - Reply

      Thanks for the support Naomi! I really debated sharing those pics LOL
      I couldn’t imagine you in a “goth” stage!!! 🙂 I think the main message it – we can ALL learn style, you just have to know how!!!!

Leave A Comment