Go Ask Mom

New Year New You: 'Let's show kids how to take care of themselves by taking care of ourselves;' style tips for moms from Sheon the Stylist

Show your children how to take care of themselves by taking care of ourselves, says Sheon Wilson, image consultant and owner of SheontheStylist.com.

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Sheon Wilson of Sheon the Stylist
Sarah Lindenfeld Hall

Full disclosure before I launch into this week's weekly mom feature: I had the pleasure of working with Sheon Wilson many years ago at The News & Observer.

My uniform at the time was baggy khakis, huge sweaters, oversized blazers and chunky heels - pretty standard for reporters in print newsrooms at the time. But she was different. Always impeccably dressed, she combined colors, prints and accessories in a way that made it crystal clear to me that she had more style in her pinky finger than I had in my entire being.

When she started sharing her styling talents in a regular column, I wasn't surprised. And when she asked if she could make me over, I was a little scared. Pregnant with my second child, I was wearing maternity clothes from my first pregnancy five years before that included pants that were about two inches too short (why!?) and empire waist shirts that did nothing for me. What's more, the only makeup I owned was from my wedding, eight years earlier. The first and last time I'd plucked my eyebrows was eight years earlier (for that wedding). And I steered clear of any and all hair products, so, my dirty blonde curls often were in a frizzy mess.

In other words, I needed a lot of help. Sheon was more than up for the challenge.

The result literally made my mother cry and say something to the effect of, "I always knew you could look like that." And, since then, I've taken the lessons I learned during that makeover to heart. I learned that baggy clothes do nothing for me - even when pregnant. I learned that spending little time on my eyebrows does make a difference. And, though I still don't wear a lot of makeup, her tips have stayed with me, especially when I wear it each week for my weekly TV segments on WRAL-TV.

When I look good these days, it's because of those tips I learned from Sheon many years ago.

So, as part of this month's series that I've dubbed New Year New You, I thought I'd feature Sheon, who is now a professional image consultant and owner of SheontheStylist.com. Sheon tells me that her goal is to help her clients create a great visual resume, helping them match their outward appearance with their personality and purpose. She is certified in color analysis by Color Me Beautiful and is an expert on dressing different body shapes, sizes and personalities.

Sheon, a Duke University graduate, lives in Durham with her husband (who happens to be Anthony Wilson of ABC 11) and her daughter, Ryan, who is an Air Force airman. Here's our Q&A:

Go Ask Mom: How has your own personal style evolved over the years?
Sheon Wilson: My personal style is classic, ladylike clothes with personality. As early as high school, I embraced a preppy look, which influenced my early adult fashion choices.
Stylist Sheon Wilson in high school

Today, like most women, I gravitate toward a look that speaks to me personally. My style keeps evolving as I learn more about body shape, trends and color. Having my color analysis done when I first started as a stylist built my style confidence. Learning how to pick colors based on what suits my natural coloring (my skin color, hair color and eye color) took out the guesswork. I know that teal, not royal, is my blue. Golden yellow, not pastel yellow. Fashion gets easier and more fun the more I learn.

GAM: How did you parlay your interest in all things fashion and style into helping others with their own fashion choices?
SW: I credit the Sears Husky Girls line with stoking my passion for style. I was a fat kid from grades 4 through 9 so those were the clothes that fit my body. But they were never as cool as the "regular-girl" clothes.

My high school weight loss freed my serious pent-up demand for fashion. I had been watching other kids enviously, and the way they put themselves together sent powerful messages. By the time I graduated college and got my first full-time job, I knew dressing a certain way was an important part of how I was perceived.

I was the first black, female reporter many of the people I interviewed had ever dealt with face to face. The more energy I put into projecting a professional image, the more people responded to what they were seeing: confidence. Colleagues started asking where I bought my clothes and how I put things together. I helped a co-worker find a gorgeous dress for her parents' anniversary party, and she got so many compliments, she recommended me to other people.

I got other paying clients and, after brainstorming with a News & Observer editor, I started a monthly makeover feature that taught me to dress women with different styles, body shapes and body sizes. I made over several pregnant women including you, Sarah, before your daughter was born. I made styling a business. I learned to do color analysis through Color Me Beautiful, the company that innovated the color by season method. I learned styling tricks through Stacy London (host of "What Not to Wear") when she offered a style seminar in New York City. Now I stay current by shopping local stores and through fashion magazines.

Sheon Wilson of Sheon the Stylist
GAM: As you work with women, especially busy moms, what are the most common things that you see that we're doing wrong? Are there any quick fixes you recommend?
SW: The biggest mistake I see is having an I-give-up attitude about your looks. Good style isn't an either/or. You can look good and be a good mom/worker/friend/human.

You're smart enough to raise a human being so you can figure out how to look good with limited time and money. Moms must multitask, so think about good style as a twofer. You look good and you also silently communicate your power. You look more alive and capable, healthier and smarter when your look is in harmony.

GAM: For those of us on a budget, how can we remake our look without spending a fortune?
SW: If you pay attention, you don’t have to pay a lot. Wasting money is what kills a woman's fashion budget. Take time and think about what looks good on you and what feels good. Then buy those clothes. I tested that by spending $60 on a T-shirt, even though it seemed like a splurge. I loved that the material had just enough stretch, and I liked the way this tee flattered a woman's shape. Deep navy is one of my good colors, and I figured this would be a go-to. Five years later it looks just as good. I wear it more than cheaper tees I've bought, and its cost-per-wear is in the pennies. (Compare that with a $10 tee you settle for and wear only once.) If you're telling yourself "It's only $10 so it doesn't matter if I don't love it" then you just lost the thread. You started on a fashion hunt and turned it into a bargain hunt. You end up settling. If you're bragging about how little you spent, you know what you bought falls short.
GAM: As we move into 2018, what fashion trends will die, what will emerge and what will stay the same?
SW: If I were queen of style and could pick the trend that dies in 2018, it's definitely uncomfortable heels. My heart breaks for every woman I see tottering around on skyscraper stilettos. The pain on her face always kills the outfit. High, high heels are not made for walking, they are made for show. Unless you're on a (short) red carpet or you have someone to carry you, ditch the gravity-defying heels. They are killing your feet and screaming to the world, "Sure I'll sacrifice my health for a few fashion points." Please, please stop the madness.

A trend I see among moms is neglecting ourselves in the name of giving everything to the kid. It's time to walk the walk: Let's show our children how to take care of themselves by taking care of ourselves. Show, don't just tell. My wonderful, dedicated mom found a little money in our tight family budget for an indulgence: She bought Oil of Olay face lotion and told us it was her special thing, just for her. Not for smearing on ashy knees. She showed me it was OK to set aside something special for herself even when she was taking care of her family.

Find out more about Sheon on her website, SheontheStylist.com.
Go Ask Mom features local moms every Monday.


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