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My Fashion Philosophy

Confidence Transformation
I’m not really a Fashion Gal, so it felt odd to hear the words “You should write about your Fashion Philosophy”.
But I do think and read (and watch and study!) a lot about clothes and style. And I have done some Costume Design for theatre… And I wore only red for the entirety of last Winter… And I keep a curated collection of playthings for Queen Photoshoots…

What was giving me pause at the thought of writing this blog post is that these things are not so much about Fashion for me - they are about Life.
Having said that - come with me, dear reader!

In the beginning

The first childhood memory involving clothes that I can access is of a dress of sunny yellow corduroy that my mum had sewn for me. It had a full-circle skirt - and spreading it all around me in a neat circle as I knelt down patiently waiting for the start of an after-school club afternoon prompted me to claim that I was a Mother Hen and the field of yellow surrounding me on all sides were my flock of fluffy yellow chicks.

Oh, how delightful that image felt! In my mind, I was stroking the softest down of each chick in turn, transported to a place of tenderness and tranquillity (and entirely oblivious now to the rowdy noisy kids dashing about all over the place).

That dress became in that moment my playmate and confidant. It heard my secret fantasies and played along with gusto. It was willing to share in my enthusiasms and cheer me along on my adventures.

There were other such playmates - like the red dress that was barely ever taken out of the wardrobe. Though rarely taken out to wear, I was vividly aware of this dress’s presence on the clothes rail. Every so often, I would stand holding the wardrobe door ajar, stroking its red (lush and luscious! fit for a Princess!) sumptuous sleeve, soaking in its rays of glory and promise.

And then there was the dancing outfit in delicate blue (my only one at the time!) - for ballet practice.

What do these memories whisper of?

They are traces of a private life of hopes, images, enchantment, pre-forming future moments to be lived...

The Magic Wardrobe

Fast-forward to today, and clothes are still a talisman helping me bring to life thoughts and urges, aspirations and dreams.

It’s often through clothes that I first hear what is bubbling up within me. I once bought a pink satin skirt, supposedly “on a whim”, because, as I put it at the time, it was a “perfect skirt for a 3rd date”. The detail you need to know is that I was a single mum and at that point I hadn’t been on a date since at least… let’s call it a few years. Holding up the skirt to admire it again after bringing my cherished find home, I realised it was a 'message in a bottle' to myself, making it abundantly clear that I WANTED to go on a date. I signed up for a dating website.

I’ve grown familiar with this pattern, I know now that it’s just part of how I roll - I reach for the clothes first, and only then realise what that impulse is about, what I was really reaching for.

Because an item doesn’t exist in isolation for me. Pulling out a red cape from a rack at a costume store, I see instantly the rest of the outfit, and sense the setting around it, the scene, the occasion.
I suspect you do, too! Gaze at a cocktail dress and check if you begin to hear the murmur of evening voices, or spot in your peripheral vision hands holding half-filled glasses.

Clothes can be a gateway to your imagination.

Clothes talk. What do you want yours to say?

Photo by Helena Yankovska on Unsplash

Vitamin Red

Last Autumn, as I was tracking the Winter Blues rolling in, I felt myself desperately casting about for something to throw in a ray of warmth. As I unpacked my winter woollies, a blazing red jumper suddenly felt like a friend. I wanted more of those!

I went on a Rampage of Red, dear reader!

All other colours got packed off into vacuum bags - a strange thing to do, packing woolly jumpers off at the *start* of Winter!

But I knew I needed red, needed it like you need food and drink - sustenance to get me through the season.
Red sustained me. I got a long ‘vegan leather’ red skirt - because it looked after me on wet days, and could handle sitting down on a wet bench in a park or on wet pebbles on the beach.

An all-red wardrobe for a season is actually superbly practical, because everything goes with everything, at least colour-wise, so a whole layer of decision-making is taken out of the equation - which I count a relief where everyday living is concerned.

The red drew compliments. Against the backdrop of city streets clad mostly in black, some people (at least one a day) voiced their appreciation for the burst of colour that I brought. It cheered their day, too! It cheered my heart to hear them say so.
I get asked if I only ever wear red. The question sends my thoughts back to a time about 10 years ago when I felt exhausted, spent - so deeply that I could barely even hear the song of colours, an aberration for me. The only colour I could feel back then was red - the brighter the better. So I re-made my entire wardrobe into red. I needed its vitality so badly. And Red helped, warming me, cheering me, nurturing me. Eventually, after many months, I felt intrigued to try out other palettes again - and found that people I knew suddenly no recognised me in the street. It turned out that they’d got so accustomed to the short-hand “Margarita = Red”!

This time around, I know that red will recede in importance for me as the Spring rolls in. I can feel yellows and greens beckoning. But I also know that I will return to the embrace of Red next Autumn, to cocoon me for the Winter months.

My Design Brief

I promised you something of a Fashion Philosophy - but it’s much more of a warm-blooded affair for me than theories.

I do get intrigued to explore what various ‘style guides’ around have to offer, and I borrow from other people’s ideas freely: my bookshelves attest to my eclectic exploits!

My favourite place to start came from a book that I can't find anymore. It begins with asking yourself “If someone passed me in the street, what impression would I want their brief moment in my presence to leave them with?”

Homing in on just 3-4 words to describe the essence of the woman I wanted them to see proved cathartic when I first tried this exercise. It still forms the blueprint for who and how I dress when I’m choosing what to pull out of the wardrobe. My three words were “vibrant, serene, feminine”.

At first, I was at a loss how those three could co-exist in one outfit. I just knew that if I found a way, it would satisfy something in my soul.

Slowly, I began to spot examples which seemed to fit the bill (I dubbed my set-of-three-words ‘The Design Brief’).

I began to distil formulas for myself, like:

✅ a dress in a simple shape with few details (serene )
✅ in a vivid colour (vibrant )
✅ made of a soft fabric that flows over the figure (feminine).

A personal shorthand makes for surer purchases and a calmer living. It’s become much easier to walk by lots of things that I know are not for me (at least for now!). My wardrobe contains no classic white shirts, only one pair of jeans (worn once in the last 12 months), not one daytime pencil skirt - they annoy me too much by limiting my stride… It’s a Margarita Wardrobe that may not please anyone else, and that’s okay - because its purpose is to serve and look after me.

Brand Photoshoot for ByHeart

This is in striking contrast to how my collection of playthings for Queen Photoshoots came together.

It began with a re-branding exercise for my ByHeart coaching practice. As I was discussing the visual expression of the brand’s essence with Alice Reeves, my Brand Fairy, she spoke of imagining floral crowns, a symbol of sumptuous abundance.

It struck a chord with me - then Costume Designer Margarita took over, lusting after fantasy and play.

By the time of my brand photoshoot with Brighton-based photographer Magdalena Smolarska a few weeks later, I had a small suitcase of floral crowns, feather hair clips and a gold beaded cape (the photo at the top of this blog post came from that shoot!)

Queen Photoshoot with Ingvild

Having brought together all these treasured finds, they languished in boxes in my bedroom, silently asking me “What next?”

Then, a conversation with a friend prompted an answer - I wanted to see her garbed in my marvellous finds! She asked a friend (the artist Richard Daniels) along to take the pictures, and the creative coming together felt magical.
And here’s a video clip of Ingvild’s Self-Coronation, bathed in the last rays of the setting sun in central Brighton. Richard's superb eye for the light brought something extra to the moment!
I loved the pictures - and I wanted more!

I’d learnt that some of my finds were not really “for me”: they worked better with a different colouring, on a different body, chiming in with the personality and amping up the vibe of a different woman better than they did with mine.

I knew that my collection had come together to serve other women, curated by me but much of it not for me.

This time, unlike my stints as Costume Designer, there was no script for a theatre play to work off of. Instead, there was a vision of women: powerful, feisty, sensuous, fey, formidable, playful - in a word, Glorious!

My 'Glorious Woman' vision board, 31.December.2023

What's next?

The idea of Queen Photoshoots took hold!

My Curated Collection of Playthings has continued to expand and grow (it now houses no less than 4 gorgeous beaded capes! - and I've lost count of the floral crowns...)

Each photoshoot is a unique occasion, shaped by the photographer and the location - and of course by each of the Queens taking part!

It begins with a guided tour of the pieces to choose from that day - laid out like a smorgasbord of delights! Then we discuss what images you'd like, and what helps you tune into the right vibe. There's time to get to know your hosts and the other participants, to create a sense of ease. You will leave with a vivid memory of yourself as Queen - and some wonderful shots as mementos that you're free to use in any personal or professional context.
Over time, I'd like to put together a visual showcase of the Collection, so that you can start trying the pieces on in your imagination ahead of time!

Watch this space!
Curious to know more?
▶️Head over to my webpage about Queen Photoshoots