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My Transformation From Frumpy To The Expert

I landed in the Orlando airport with great excitement for the conference I was about to attend. It was called Influence 2017 by the National Speakers Association. This was my first time attending because I was invited by a very successful friend.

The first person I met was a very attractive woman named Joan, who rode the shuttle with me to our resort hotel. We were staying at the Dolphin. Joan was naturally grey and was very put together. Her hair was styled in a simple shoulder length bob. She wore a striped black and cream blazer that buttoned once in the front and cream slacks. I noticed her makeup was simple but just right. I was very impressed by her and immediately assumed that she was a super successful speaker.

I’m not gonna lie. I felt the opposite of how she looked. I was wearing an olive green t-shirt with a gold necklace. Boot-cut jeans and white sneakers. I was traveling in comfort.

I dismissed this feeling quickly because I assumed she must be one of those people who likes to dress up when she travels. That’s cool. She looked great.

The shuttle pulled up to the hotel and I gathered my suitcase and bag and walked into the lobby of the Dolphin. There was a long line for check-in which was fine. The entire conference was staying at the hotel, so I expected to see lots of attendees.

As I’m standing there, watching people greet Joan (she had a lot of friends), I noticed that they all were dressed to the level of Joan. Very attractive women, completely pulled together and not at all frumpy. No t-shirts. No jeans.

I started to panic. My heart started thumping. Beads of sweat formed on my brow.

Oh my God! I am completely underdressed! I packed with the assumption that this was going to be casual. I wanted to report back to you on how great I did with my travel wardrobe capsule.

“I’m an imposter!” I thought. How could I tell people that I’m a color style coach when these women were dressed far better than me. I wanted to crawl in a hole. All of my insecurities of not being good enough flooded my head.

The voice in my head said “You don’t belong here.”

I took deep breathes as I moved through the line and checked in at the counter.

I’m here. I’m not going home. So, what do I do?

In a moment of desperation, I thought “There MUST be a shop here.”

And there was. A really nice boutique.

I grabbed every dress I could find and tried them on. Some were too bold in pattern for me. Some just looked like I was going to a cocktail party. But I did find and buy a really cute navy blue dress. It was simple. It draped straight to just above my knees. It wasn’t the dressiest of dresses but I can work with it.

The ladies at the shop must of smelled my desperation because I ended up paying almost $200 for this cute dress.

But it’s ok! I have ONE dress that I can wear… for 4 days? No. That won’t work.

I tried not to obsess too much as I waited to be paged when my room was ready. I continued to meet people and had some great conversations. I let them assume I was in jeans and sneakers because I just arrived.

Now, in my room, I unpack everything and take inventory of what will work. I have the black t-shirt dress. It’s shirred at the waist and has some shape. I have the new navy dress. I also packed my long cardi that is a blend of navy and cream. The cardi will look good over both dresses. Ok. So, I have 2 dresses for 4 days. I’m not sure how I’m going to pull this off, but I need to.

For the evening general session, I put on the black t-shirt dress. Layered the long cardi over it. Put on my beige wedges. Not bad. Not great. But not bad. What can I do to do better. I packed a bold silver statement necklace. Perfect! I styled my hair. Spent extra time on my makeup. Applied a bright coral-pink lipstick. Silver earrings. Silver bracelet. The details of the sparkle and lipstick worked.

Here’s what I discovered after that first night. It didn’t matter what I wore. Many women were in brightly colored business dresses. They looked great. But upon closer inspection, it wasn’t the dresses that were impressive. In fact, not everyone who was dressed up looked great. There was one woman who wore super bright fuchsia pink which looked all wrong on her.

Side Note: Thinking back on that particular woman… I gotta tell ya. The color wasn’t right on her BUT I was so impressed by how she owned it. At first, I was looking for imperfections so that I could feel better about myself. I’m not proud of this. If I’m being perfectly transparent, what I was really thinking was “That is a BRIGHT color! She has crazy confidence to own that color.” I wanted to own my image like she was owning hers.

I still saw myself a bit underdressed BUT it didn’t bother me as much. Because I was dressed as me. The more I owned my personality and told myself that I belonged there, the more it didn’t matter that I didn’t look like them. I decided that I AM the expert. I DO belong here. This outfit is exactly what I planned and I am perfectly prepared for this conference.

For the rest of the conference, I made the best with what I had. Being in this environment stretched me to make more of an effort in my appearance. Casual or not, I still showed up and wanted to be seen.

So, here’s what I observed about the appearances of the women that impressed me and made me dig deep for self confidence.

  • They had beautiful haircuts. For many, their hair was naturally grey. They owned their age of 50, 60, 70+.
  • They wore one beautiful accessory with their outfit. Statement necklace or scarf. They always seemed to up their game.
  • They wore color that looked right on them. They may just know their colors or they got lucky. But they all wore dresses in colors and patterns.
  • For those that the color wasn’t right, it didn’t matter. They owned it.
  • They owned their space. It didn’t matter what their body shape or age was. They walked with confidence. Never fussed with their clothes or hair. And smiled warmly.

I transformed this weekend from feeling frumpy and underdressed to the expert and successful business woman that I am. It’s easy to forget. It’s easy to compare yourself to the people around you. When I stopped comparing and trying to be like someone else, I fell into my groove. My confidence came back and I had a wonderful time.

So many of you tell me that you feel frumpy and that you want to dress better. Half of the battle is in your head. You are NOT invisible. You ARE good enough. You are BEAUTIFUL.

This entire experience inspired me to enhance the signature style program. Many of the original content is being updated and moved into the Color Style Club because I want the Signature Style Program to be extra special. A program and service that offers you formulas and outfit templates that are custom to your body type and coloring. I’m still working through the kinks but I wanted to share the idea with you in hopes that you would share with me if this sounds like something you’d be excited about.

In the meantime, join the Color Style Club. You will discover courses on dressing your body type and how to wear your colors. Plus you’ll have access to the Facebook Group where the community is encouraging, supportive and loving. I love this group!

I hope to see you inside.

Click here to join the Color Style Club for only $1 and get started on YOUR transformation.


Jen Thoden

PS. If you’re curious of the outfits I pulled together for the 4 days…

Saturday Night: Black T-Shirt Dress with Cardi. Statement necklace. Beige wedges.

Sunday: Navy dress with cardi. Beige wedges. Simple silver necklace.

Monday: Black t-shirt dress. Olive green sweater. Gold statement necklace. White Superga sneakers. Oh yeah! I OWNED being super cute and stylishly casual.

Monday Night (Bangquet): Navy dress. Simple silver necklace. Wedges. Darker lipstick.

Tuesday: Off the shoulder light-blue top with jeans and wedges. I flew out that afternoon.

For all of the above, I spent time on my hair and makeup. It was the polish over everything else.

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