Chantal Smedts about the underestimated female force of the power state and personal leadership
From the beauty sector to coaching on personal leadership. Chantal Smedts successfully ran a hairdressing business for 15 years and for just as long she has been a co-founder of QLICK that coaches and trains managers, entrepreneurs and organisations in personal leadership. For Chantal, authenticity and a balance between inner and outer appearance are essential and also constitute the basis of her trainings.
"Inner and outer are unconditionally connected. You can wear the most beautiful, expensive clothes, but if you are unhappy inside, then it is just packaging. The same applies the other way around."
Listen to the Work Fashion Talk episode here in Dutch or read the summary in English below and acquire her personal power outfit.
Chantal's definition of work fashion
For me, work fashion doesn't just mean clothes. It is a look in its totality that makes you stand in your power and make you feel comfortable. Moreover, work fashion shows a part of the outside - your identity - with which you can tell a lot, and it symbolizes you. So you not only symbolise yourself by the words you use, but also by the clothes you wear and the style you have.
For example, I like soberness and this is reflected in my style. My colour palette is mainly white, beige, brown, blue and black. No bright colours. You won't often see me in black either because to me that means you're hiding.
I used to be into fashion a lot. Every season I would go and see what was new and regardless of whether it suited me or not, I would buy it or go along with the fashion trends. Today, it's completely different and I don't get into it a lot anymore. I will make sure that I look stylish, but I am not going to follow the latest trends any more. Moreover, not every trend is appropriate in a certain context. To me, "having style" also means maintaining a style over a longer period of time. Hopping from one trend to another would make me lose my identity. I separate style and trends, which of course doesn't mean that I don't follow the trends from time to time, but it has to fit within my own style. For example, I am still a fan of the white shirt. I use that as the basis for many different outfit.
The underestimated female force of the power state
Power dressing is a concept that we can interpret very differently. In my experience, power dressing is dressing in such a way that you can put yourself in your most powerful state. We all have a certain state: melancholic, enthusiastic, powerful, ... Depending on what state you want to portray at a particular moment, you can adapt your clothing. That is why I think it is important that women first determine their power state and then adapt their clothes to it. I don't believe that we all have to wear a blue suit - like we used to - to determine our power state. I think the strength of being a woman is that we can be different and define ourselves in that way.
And if you do use a stylish blue tailor-made suit to empower you, for example as a young woman just starting out in her career, make sure you add a personal touch. That can be anything from sneakers to a stiletto heel and from a T-shirt to a scarf.
Moreover, inner and outer are unconditionally linked. You can wear the most beautiful, expensive clothes, but if you are unhappy on the inside, it is just packaging. The same applies the other way round. You can wear the most casual, sober clothes, but if you are happy, you will sparkle. It is this double movement that allows you to effectively realize your power state. So make sure that you are happy inside, working on your personal leadership and putting everything in order and at the same time looking beautiful and groomed. In my experience, that is an incredibly strong female force. And we often underestimate it as women.
Dressing as part of personal leadership and to reflect your authenticity
For me, personal leadership is having control over your thoughts, emotions and what you want to achieve in life. With all the challenges of today, having and keeping control is a big challenge. Moreover, the rapidly changing world we live in makes staying focused one of the biggest challenges. A clearly defined clothing style can help in this respect so that you don't have to give too much brain space to it already and can thus take away extra pressure. A morning routine including hair, make-up and clothes will certainly give you more work energy.
We should not underestimate that for some fashion and style is really complex. There is a lot to choose from. If that is not where your talent is, you start copying. Besides, people want to belong to a group. So it is not abnormal that we start dressing ourselves depending on the group we come into contact with.
There is nothing wrong with that, if it is to help yourself and if it makes you feel comfortable. If it is because you are afraid that your style does not fit in, then it is a different story. Then you haven't found your authenticity and how to show it.
It is always a balance exercise between the context you are in and the authenticity you want to put forward. So it always starts with your own power. It is very important that you determine your values. If you want to bring out certain values, how do you reflect that in your clothing or style? There are many styles in which you can convey your image in a way that makes you feel comfortable, fits into the context and does not distract attention from the message you want to communicate.