Friday, 13 March 2009

Toastmasters - Is Fantasy In Your Wardrobe?

For Toastmasters' speech number 5 the focus was on clear, simple, vivid and forceful words that add excitement to the presentation.

When I first thought of a topic for this speech, I decided upon Decluttering as it's greatly misunderstood however, after reading the speech requirements, I thought that the dialogue would be too technical and not fluid enough for the speech.

After mulling the topic over with my 10 year old daughter, who gave me sugggestions of previous pets - yes, I've had budgies and dogs and cats but we've also had exotic birds, ferret and more recently chickens - I was none the wiser on what to choose and my speech date was looming.

On the Sunday we decided to take a trip into London, particularly to the Design Museum. On the way there I read the Style magazine from the Sunday Times newspaper and it had an article on fashion that was really interesting saying, "Fashion is about self-expression, fantasy and identity." It made me realise that this is how I've felt all my life - I love glamour, sparkle and drama. After seeing an image consultant last year I realised that I'm a true Winter and should embrase my extravagence.

The design museum was really great and my daughter and I had a truly wonderful day out - such inspirational fashion. In the 'technical lab' there was a PC with a blog about fashion today and how we're returning to war mentality with thrifty fashion habits, eg: clothes swapping and vintage shopping. I've always loved the word vintage because it strangely gives a snobbery to secondhand clothes.

After this inspiring trip I then read up on the latest fashon trends as interior design generally coincides with fashion and I like to keep my knowledge current.

Having digested all of this information I decided to put a speech together on fashion.

By this time however my time was running out and the speech was looming in less than two days - aaaaagggghhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It seemed to take me ages to structure the speech and each time it wasn't quite right - one itteration was too formal and the next too impersonal but finally I ended up with this - I hope it stirs you to think differently about what you wear and how you wear it:


As an interior designer I follow fashion trends because one generally follows the other. At the moment there are four main fashion trends. Do you know what they are?

1) 1980's (Think shoulder pads or leggings and long T-shirt)

2) Colour (In the shops you'll find 'Buy Me' colours like fuscia pink and canary yellow. They're vivid colours that shout from the shelves so that they're more obvious and in your face during a recession)

3) Bad Taste (This is a clever mix of clashing colurs or styles. As you can imagine it's easy to get it wrong - this is stylish bad taste and not bad taste slob!)

4) English Eccentric (You take traditional patterns and materials such as floral, tweed and tartan and give them a bit of a boost)

So that you understand each trend, I'm going to share with you some of the more exotic and vivid creations that I've worn over the years.

First the 1980's:

I first got interested in fashion when I was about 17 and at college. I met someone who used to pay so much attention to detail in what she wore. She was a real fashionista and her glamour certainly rubbed off on me.

It was about this time that I started making and designing my own clothes. One particular outfit that I made was an oblong top - just 4 squares of material, two at the front and two at the back, in block colours of turquoise and black. It was the height of fashion and to show you how good it was, the fashionista asked me to make her one. Replication is appreciation!

The next trend is Colour & Bad Taste:

When I went to university my love and confidence for experimenting with fashion really took off.

At home one holiday, my mother asked my sister and me to go into town to run an errrand. I loved embarassing my sister because she was so conservative and it was such fun! I poped upstairs to carefully choose my outfit - would it be red? no! what about blue? no! it must be yellow then? yes :-)

Imagine if you would men's Long Johns dyed canary yellow! Of course I'd sewn up the front and added a pair of braces to hold them up. Over this I wore an oversized white t-shirt and then a sloppy joe jumper - a woolen creation, made by my mother, that had gone all saggy and baggy. To finish the outfit off I wore some white boots and yellow nail varnish. At the time I used to paint my nails every night to match my outfit of the next day! When I think back now it was such a bind and so time consuming, but fantastic fun!!

Well, my sister went ballistic, "Mum, she looks like a banana. I'm not going into town with a walking piece of fruit!". She did and it was such fun - for me!

The last trend is English Eccentric:

My outfit tonight is a floral pink coat that's jazzed up with fishnets and a strange pair of green wedge shoes. It's just a little bit odd!

For me though English Eccentric isn't just a fashion trend, it's more about the state of my mind!

The next time you open your wardrobe I'd like you to look for the fantasy and fun so that you feel fantastic and look fabulous darling.

Here's the evaluation I received:

"Use more descriptive words as this is the focus of speech number 5. Interesting subject, great structure, no notes and wonderful advice!"

I totally agree with this evaluation as I did lose sight of the speech focus with all of the changes I made to the topic itself. In the end I focused my remaining time on making the speech flow and having a solid structure. I lost sight of the actual words - a great lesson to learn.

Here are some of the general comments:

"You draw your audience in."

"As fluent and entertaining as ever. In some ways more vocally restrained than usual."

"Wonderful pictures. Very clear speech but you could have brought your title in earlier and link it together."

"Very interesting - never thought about the credit crunch aspect."

"Good structure, great use of stage and gestures. Varied voice tone and humour. Made this speech entertaining and enjoyable. To improve, believe you are great."

"Fantastic speech! That was really entertaining and fun."

"Great speech, good speed, humour and vocal variety. You are a confident speaker and really engage the audience. Would like to hear you speak on a subject that takes you out of your comfort zone as there is little to recommend!"

"Try to relax and breath - your delivery will be smoother."

"Very accomplished. Very well done."

"I love the outfit! I really enjoyed your talk and I liked how you put the four stages of your talk on the board."

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