Posted on April 23 2021
#PowerfullyPetite Interview with Lynn Hickman
Lynn Hickman another lovely petite customer of ours standing at 5'4" (slightly above our 'nominal' 5'3" guideline!) has been so encouraging about Jennifer Anne from our very first days. Lynn has managed to balance a career in the City with family life plus 2 dogs (always a challenge!) . I was delighted to interview Lynn about her mid life career change - a topic close to my heart.
J: Tell me Lynn where has your career led you?
L: My career started off at the Bank of England where I took on a regulatory role which involved lots of meetings with City institutions, so I needed to look smart and professional. I would typically choose nice suits and dresses as this gave me more confidence as a young woman starting out in her career, but I usually had to have them shortened! My next role at the Bank was working in HR, which was more of an internal role but again it was important to be well-presented. I carried on working in HR for many years moving on to the insurance sector, and always wanted to look my best; it would have been wonderful if there had been a petite brand of clothing available in those days to help with this – my Jennifer Anne clothes fit beautifully and look fantastic, which makes clothes shopping so much easier!
When my children were young I went freelance to gain a better work/life balance and then in 2018 I decided to make a mid-life career change.
J: It can take great courage to step out in a completely new direction particularly later on in life. Did you find it hard? Do you miss working in the City?
L: I had gradually become aware that I was enjoying my HR work less but was not sure what I wanted to do instead. I was fortunate to be able to take a few years out of work to think about what I wanted to do next. I came across a week-long ‘taster course’ in counselling and was intrigued, so decided to give it a go – and I absolutely loved it! So I signed up for a 4 year part time MA course. The academic work has been challenging at times and I still remember how anxious I was when I saw my first ever client. I am now finding my feet with both of these things and really enjoy my client work.
It is such a privilege to be able to be with someone in the darker moments of their life and to help them make sense of what they are feeling and forge a new path for the future. It is safe to say that I do not miss my City life at all. I now have much more control over when and how much I work, which allows time for walking our two dogs, hobbies and a social life!
J: How did this change of career affect your fashion choices?
L: I have always enjoyed fashion and clothing and like to look smart and on-trend. My change of occupation gave me surprising food for thought about my clothing choices however, and made me think about how I look in a completely different way.
After a year of classroom-based learning I joined two counselling agencies on student placement. Initially my client sessions were face to face but inevitably in March 2020 I moved to working online. Each format required different considerations of suitable attire!
Clothing can send out powerful messages to clients and these need to be thought about. For example, I realised that my previous ‘City’ wardrobe of very smart dresses and suits might be intimidating for some clients. However, I was keen that my clothes were not too casual – I am doing a professional role and it felt important to reflect and honour that with my clients. I also wanted my choice of outfit to be modest, so as not to be distracting for the client or to send out incorrect and inappropriate signals.
J: Does colour play a role in your workwear choices?
L: Absolutely it does. I don’t want to wear colours that are too bright, because this might not be appropriate for clients in distress, and furthermore might be a distraction for them. Equally, I find myself shying away from outfits that are uniformly dark, this might be too depressing for clients.
J: What else do you think about when choosing clothes for consultations?
L: I did not want to be too ‘fashion forward’ – again I did not want my outfit to be a distraction for clients. And last – but not least – comfort was a huge factor in my thinking. I can end up sitting for several hours at a time with only a limited amount of movement, and it is vital to focus on the client during our sessions, so I did not want to be distracted by a tight waistband or tight-fitting trousers, or worried about whether my skirt was too short when sitting down.
J: Which Jennifer Anne clothes do you particularly like?
L: I love my Carter Blouse in ivory from Jennifer Anne Petite which goes well with so many trousers and skirts in my wardrobe. It can be dressed up or down which is great.
Lynn wearing the Carter Top in Ivory with the Gemma Utility Trousers in Tan
I am a big fan of the new collection that Jennifer Anne have brought out. The Lauretta Blouse is such a gorgeous top - a silk mix fabric in a navy and white polka dot, what is there not to like?
Lynn wearing the Smith Trousers in Navy with the Lauretta Blouse in Navy and White Polka Dot
When I moved to counselling on Zoom, it became apparent that some different clothing choices would be helpful. I ensured that I had a neutral background in the room behind me, but I quickly realised that I needed to wear tops with more colour which did not make me look pale on screen. I bought the Carter Top in fuchsia which was perfect, and I also bought the Cheshire Shirt which has a subtle pattern and worked well either on its own or under a smart sweater or cardigan. This shirt has a looser fit so was very comfortable, and seemed to accord with the ‘working from home’ vibe to which many of us have become accustomed in lockdown.
Lynn wearing the Carter Top in Fuschia with the Smith Trousers in Navy
For dressing up and hopefully going to some lovely event in the coming months when we are allowed, I think the Austen Midi Print Dress will be just perfect.
Lynn wearing the Austen Midi Dress
I hope to return to face to face work with clients in the summer and have just bought the Carla Jumpsuit in denim from Jennifer Anne Petite’s new collection - a necessary addition to my work wardrobe!
J: Thank you so much Lynn for sharing your thoughts with us on your career change and how that has affected how you dress for work