One event and four thoughts

That was a very interesting Saturday morning – and a very pleasant one. Some weeks ago a work colleague sent an invitation for an event. It was one of these rural, charity, fashion show, home baked killer-cakes, community centre happenings. A fashion show organised by Quills on behalf of the Suffolk Family Carers. Of course I was in!

Oh My! So many impressions; I don’t know where to start. It wouldn’t make sense to just describe the event. I guess they are very similar all over the world: a more or less affordable venue, a charity benefiting from the entry fee, the sale of coffee and home made cakes, and a percentage of the income of the market stalls, and some very enthusiastic people organising it all. This one was wrapped around a fashion show and clothes sale, plus a few stalls selling hand made scarves, handbags from China and make-up. And of course: There is always a raffle.

The above would be a very brief story; some might sniff at happenings like those while others just love them. Recently I have been attending other sales oriented occasions on a much higher spending level and what strikes me are the patterns that I can see on how these women network, how different they are, how similar their objectives, and how similar their approached to make things work. Although the target groups are different, the aims and the ways women go about their businesses are very similar – and very different to how a male would go about it. These are the things I am really interested in.

Well, and thus I decided to elaborate a bit on my thoughts and to make it a mini series of articles, adding one every week.

The first one is on ‘The Typecast Trap’ - The implications on how we see ourselves and how we are seen by others.

The second one is on 'Brilliant Business Women' - Making it big or not to make it big: That's the question!

The third one is on 'Nerds VS. Dilettantes' - Making a difference with networking.

The Typeast Trap

I live in Ipswich, which is big enough to have a big cinema and a small theatre. Its shopping facilities in regard to fashion are not great but decent and there are a few boutiques located in neighbouring villages offering items which might even be hard to find in London. We have decent restaurants, and some big employers, so there is a certain wealth in this neck of the woods and life is rather good. However, there is no two ways about it that we live in the provinces – just drive a few miles and one will find nothing but finest countryside and lots of pig farming.

Now, without being too precise about it I would say that I have three circles of friends. One group wouldn’t consider themselves as rural. Apart from taking care of their families and their careers their interest is in travelling, good books and art; they love fashion, and you will never see them without make-up. They work hard for their money and want to enjoy it.  And they are powerful. If any one of them enters a room voicing an opinion people will listen. They are more or less in the place they want to be, they know what they are talking about, and they know how to dress the part. In a nutshell: They are very confident and hence they make impact.

The others are proud to be rural. They might like travelling as well, but that usually means hiking in some mountain, or biking across a country while avoiding big cities and spa resorts. They like to get their fingers dirty and couldn’t imagine living without a pet, or a gardening which they attend to themselves. Fashion is a bit of a mystery for them. They may have a day job and there they might get their clothes right most of the time, but in regard to clothes that help to climb the career ladder or for occasions the wardrobe is a big black hole, and they don’t mind. Their focus is on comfy or at least practical, hence make-up is a bit of a mystery as well.

Oh well and then there is the majority to which I count myself: The in-betweenies. We basically have rural hearts, but could at least for once in a while imagine being urban princesses.

We like the power and confidence they radiate in a sophisticated setting, something that is hard to be achieved for us having gardening hands and a head that hasn’t seen a beauty parlor in ages.  We usually are not willing to put in the money for make-up and dress which only will be use every other year or so, and as soon as an event comes on the agenda panic kicks in.

We might have the ideas, but we don’t follow through. Modesty and low risk is our motto – everything just enough to make things worthwhile. We might have our own business we are very proud of, but we modestly call it small. Thus we rarely will become truly successful business women.

While the other two groups don’t usually mingle and are content in the place they are, the rest of us is struggling to belong, and is hovering between the two. Even the choice of clothes in the shops and online is reflecting that.

2004 - comfy!
and that was already an improved look

... and 2007

The one thing we don’t have is time!

We don’t have time to learn all the brand names which promise the best success; we don’t have the time to search and browse all the shops.

Now sitting at this rural fashion show, between really lovely ladies I realised:

The categories are old or young – urban or rural; Comfort combined with class and a fresh wind is hard to find and since we live in both circles we are firstly undecided to what to focus our choice and secondly, where to find the stuff… and there is the snatch:

This typecast thing is such a trap!

I already had asked myself five years ago: When did I lose the innocence to enjoy playing the roles which life would throw at me, and when did I become this 'one particular type of person' who is only one part of what I really am?

How much more could we achieve if we would just ‘go for it’! Why do we always have to decide where we belong? Why on earth can’t we dig through the garden one day, the next we are the vamp at a cocktail party and on another one a sophisticated fund raiser? When we were little we put on the clothes of our mums and played roles, and we loved it. We need to have that again!

Only now I understand what really had bothered me back then five years ago. The solution clothes had been offering me is a visualisation of the wish for belonging. I dug out an article on what fashion can mean for us, that I had written quite a while ago.

Now I found a new relevance to this message! We don’t need to decide! Being versatile is our strength.


... and 2009

We in-betweenies should proudly proclaim our own club. The only fact we have to accept is that clothes make people and that we are judged by what we are wearing – No two ways about it! Not in business, nor in party terms.

Yes! In regard to finding the right stuff we might have it a bit more difficult than the ones, who are settled in their style already, but we can learn from each of them and we will find our very own style allowing us to happily hop between the different groups of friends and the various tasks to be taken on.

I decided that I will dress the part and that I will enjoy being a rural gal one day and a party vamp the other. It keeps ones mind open and makes life real fun!

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Copyright 2007
Author: Rika