Friday, 26 November 2010


Rika's Personal Page

Project Rika

Project Rika - The Photo Therapy

This is what I call my 360° mirror. When I was younger I liked to have my pictures taken, but I noticed that that had changed. Pictures became rare and I usually didn't like them. It turns out that these are the ones most useful for therapy. They do the job of a mirror that shows your behind in bright light which one usually only gets a glimpse of in the fitting rooms of shops. Which consequently are avoided to visit, what reduces the wardrobe to some rags. Things just had to change!

2002 - 2004

From Where I'm Coming....

Casual in summer 2002 These jeans are getting rather tight.
Party November 2002
Black as easiest option although not really slimming

DIY - Building a BBQ in spring 2003. Oh well, that's fair enough! But the jeans are the next size.

Oh Oh...

Summer 2003 - Building a new aviary 40°C and hard work made me a 'wee' bit careless in my dress code.
Fall 2002 Just found these pictures. I actually wanted to keep these trousers (made them myself) until I would have found a replacement.

Spring 2004 Same trousers. They are still the best ones I have. Why on earth did I have to spoil my goddaughter's confirmation pictures with this outfit?
Oh, they so much have to go right now!

Summer 2004

... Getting Fed Up ...
What a Contrast!
In summer 2004 my gorgeous 14 year old goddaughter came to visit. We went shopping for her and didn't find anything for me. That night we had booked a table in a nice restaurant and I was wearing yet another one of my trouser creations. I was completely outshone by her, what is fair enough given her age and the length of her legs. However, there was no need for me to look drab, but nevertheless I did.
At least my hair got longer already. And I started to notice that something has to change. Going shopping with her opened my eyes to a world I was horribly jealous of.  And then about half a year later, just when I was lower than down after a summer of nothing nice to wear, the third series of 'What not to Wear' started.

Autumn 2004

... And Where I'm Going ...

At least the hair is starting to take shape

And I dare wearing bigger jewellery

Still a bit frumpy, but I only own one skirt and I was boots shopping in the morning. So I had to wear it.
The shirt is new and I liked the colours and the style. But unfortunately I bought it before I did this photo session. I forgot the rule: 'Don't let fabric end where you are the fattest'. And my forearms look huge in these 3/4 sleeves. Actually I'm not quite sure what would look good. Long sleeves point to my saddle bags and overly long sleeves make me look like a monkey.
This shirt is additionally unfortunate because the stripes go through into the arms. Makes me look very square. I like myself best without sleeves. Probably I should try things where they have a different pattern than the body, or at least don't have horizontal stripes.
Hmmm, I seem to have a thing going for horizontal stripes anyway. Well, this photo thing turns out to be a better therapy than I thought. Hurtful but effective.
 2005 - 2006

... And There I Am!


May 2006


BTW: This is the top with which it all started. I liked it so much, but it looked very bad without a bra. I bought anyway and then got my first bra. Enthusiastically I decided to treat me to a hair dresser visit. I was too early for the appointment, went into a bookstore for a coffee and found the 3rd T&S book.
The rest is history!

Project Rika - The Diary

Hair coloured, but still without make-up.

Not an 'Angst'-item anymore


... give to a friend

... or your cat,
... or to charity,
... or bin it.

The sad leftovers.

Colours, colours, ...

October 2004

Being a fan of Trinny and Susannah from the first series on I took some of their advice on board right from the beginning (e.g. chunky heels on shoes for fat ankles - and these are fat ankles we are talking about), but never completely got the grips on it. Only when the book accompanying the third series came out it absolutely hit me. It was at about the same time when I found that lovely top in a shop and I noticed that my tits had given in to gravity and that the shirts looked awful without a bra.

But I should introduce myself before I go on. Me - Rika, 43 years of age, hands on (garden, DIY, part time secretary), with the most pear shaped pear figure (size 10 upstairs, 12-14 downstairs), with column like legs, literally no ankles and short wide feet, but great tits (hence the no bra thing for all my life). I'm doing body-building to get wider shoulders (what actually works), but the waist is the problem. Have you ever heard of a woman complaining about a too thin waist? Since I've hit the 40 I got a bit of a tummy what helped a bit to find trousers, but didn't make me more attractive. If I get trousers fitted for my middle I don't fit through the hole anymore with my legs. I made trousers myself with the zip on the back (having a fat arse I can use a very long zip there) what leaves a big enough hole to fit through.

Now I'm in the middle of 'Project Rika' and I feel the need to document this. Since I’m getting deeper and deeper into it I notice how much it actually is not just an outside thing, but an inside thing as well. So this documentation is a bit of a therapy and probably replaces what is done in the TV series with the diary cameras.

So, as I go along I will create a little list of makeover-rules that I found helpful to keep myself on track and that will bring me back on in case I should loose it again.

November 2004
I'm about 4 weeks into the project now. I needed about 2 weeks to notice that it is a project and the other 2 weeks to get the first things done:
Hair is sorted. Nice new colour (a warmer shade of my own colour) with highlights. New fringy cut that still needs a quite bit of growing (I had very short hair a year ago). At the moment I'm trying out styling mousses to find out which one suits my hair best.
Got a good bra (tops look lovely now). Still need good underwear for the downstairs department and good tights. That's to be done next week, before I go to the next shopping trip for trousers and skirts
Found my boots yesterday! Yay! Stretchy ones - they extend around the biggest calves.
Got my first fancy jewellery and love it (I only have small and thin items mostly in silver, no fashion jewellery).
Finished the culling today. 1 bin bag full of rubbish. My beloved woollen winter coat got chosen by my cat as bed, 2 big plastic bags for charity and 1 bag to send to my mum who luckily doesn't fit my colour scheme but my shape. About 1m of wardrobe contains jackets, zipper jumpers and trousers is left over, 2/3 of which will go as I go along and hopefully will find new things to wear (Angst-item still is trousers).
Collected the colour cards yesterday from the DIY shop and created 2/3 of my chart from it. Didn't bring enough olives so I have to go back. At first I thought it would be nice to have a sheet for each colour type in the book, to take out of. Would save a lot of time and glue all over the place. But it was a good experience to cut and paste myself. To see which colours repeat in the theme for different purpose. Which colours are basic and which ones are for highlighting. Last night I dreamt of colour charts. I hope that is a good thing. I will carry these little sheets in my purse wherever I go. So if I find something that I'd like to buy I will immediately see if it will fit my wardrobe or not.
Still have to sort out make-up. Problem is my allergies. Have days where I sneeze a thousand times with eyes swelling up and tears running. That will destroy the best make-up and will make me look like an owl. But I'm determined to find something for the 'good days'.

08/11/04 - Quick Shopping trip after work (2 hours)
Went for knickers - hmmm! Not sure that I like the magic ones. Felt like a sausage. I guess a new bra is enough for one month to make me breathless. Will give it another try a bit later. Loads of bras in the shops but the knickers situation in England is hideous.

Always on the lookout for trousers and coats. Stumbled over 3 trousers in size 12 that actually fitted. They looked awful, though. Two were much too short (why do they do that?) and one made my ass sag (back to the magic knickers?) But I was over the moon - they fitted around the legs and the middle. The season starts promising, although my colours (olives, mustard/gold, sea green) are mostly to be found in the hunters and old ladies department.
In the end I spent a lot of money on make-up stuff. Eye make-up remover (Bi-Facil from Lancome), blusher (Guerlin) - I hope it's not too brown, tried it on but in these lights in the shop I couldn't see a bit, concealer (Touche eclat, YSL) - that stuff seems to be perfect for me because I have a very pale skin that doesn't have Snow White qualities. I'm still not sure about foundation. Never found a pale enough and fluid enough one. Need to ask my friends about their experience.

It was the first time that I would have liked to have more time for shopping.
Extended the culling into the make-up department. Only kept mascara, 3 lipsticks - I have to try them with the new blusher, eye shadow and a powder, which is very likely to be discarded - don't know why I bought it - actually, it's bin-day today. I'm going to throw it out right now!

Never forget...

... the way ...

... you have come.
09/11/04 - Oh that was a good day.
Put on the make-up in the morning and was disappointed. I used make-up before and I had the same feeling as always - it makes me 10 years older. My husband said I had white areas under the eyes, which I didn't see - So probably the blusher was too dark?!

Came to the office and got complimented twice - never ever happened before.
In the evening we had our friends over (2 couples). Exam time! The girls were over the moon, my buys got approved (one is using Touche eclat and Bi-Facil herself), the blusher got tried out immediately, the boots were the hit and as I was proudly wearing my bra, one shouted out: 'Look, she has boobs!' Was too happy to be embarrassed. Concluding comment: 'Eventually you will come shopping with us'. I didn't know that girls go shopping for socialising. I thought they do that because they need something to wear. The boys were a bit disappointed, though: 'She won't be interested in DIY and power tools anymore'. I promised them to look very sexy doing DIY and gardening, so they are sorted as well.

There is one other thing I noticed. I rarely dressed up when I had guests because I was afraid to soil the only good clothes I have in the kitchen and then having nothing to wear at work. If all the clothes I have would be 'most liked clothes' this wouldn't be an issue anymore. I definitely need more than 1 outfit - okay, I own three:
1 Jeans + 4 T-shirts. Most of the tops have a bit of brown or are a good blue (there is one shade that doesn't look too bad on me). So that's okay-ish.
1 pair of good trousers + 2 Winter and 3 summer tops. The trousers fit superbly but are grey. They are tagged 'Wear to tear and then replace with the right colour'
1 pair of black elegant trousers + 3 summer tops one of which I wear in the office as well. The tops are all new and in the right colours, but the trousers have to go.
The rest of the clothing is a mismatch and has flaws (too short, too loose, too tight). I wear those when the other things are in the washing. They are tagged 'Replace as quickly as possible'.

The other thing I learned yesterday is how to remember my colours.

One part of my tones is 'Thyme'!

I have a border of all kinds of thyme in my garden and the leaves either have a silver-grey-green touch or are golden/mustard/olive coloured (Lemon thyme - yummy). The flowers come from lilac to deep purple and burgundy and when the flowers go then the seeds come in a rich dark brown.
I'm getting there!

12/11/04 - Still on track
Since two weeks I wear the best possible outfit to work and I didn't slip to 'very casual because of lazy'. I always wear a bra at work. Only at home I'm allowed without. But my friend recommended a brand that is supposed to be extremely comfortable and it looked very good on her (2 children). So I have to see if this one works for me as well. Then I probably might even wear it at home or for sport.

Since one week I'm wearing make-up (concealer, mascara, blusher, lipstick). Firstly the eye make-up remover is fantastic. I'm glad to have put in the money. It's the first time that I don't loose my eye lashes after using mascara. Secondly I found a good routine. I'm quite a couch potato and once I sink into my arm chair in the evening it's hard to get up and clean my face properly. So before I slip into the lazy evening I go and clean my face using remover, cleanser and exfoliator (from time to time), no toner (feels like drying out). For moisturising I use eye cream and a quite cheap night cream (Q10) that works well for me.

Before I had phases where I tried to keep up with good face cleaning manners, but always failed and only used the quick splash of water. All of a sudden it's not an issue anymore.

Now I want to have a second lipstick in my handbag - and I want a new handbag. I'm deeply embarrassed by my ugly black backpack. There are two more boutiques to explore in the neighbourhood town, once this is done we will have to extend our search circle and go to London.

13/11/04 - Uhuuuu, that was bitter!
I looked through my old pictures. Good Lord, what was I thinking. The hair colour, the cut... The cut for itself wasn't too bad, but having such an ass to compensate there is a bit more head needed. Oh and theses home made trousers. The top bit is actually quite nice, but the bulky, too short legs and the too soft material that deforms from sitting. Already in 2002 when I saw the picture I didn't like it. Why the h... did I still wear it in 2004 at my god daughters confirmation? And why did I even keep it now? But no worries - it's in the bin now!

When I was a teenager and even in my twenties I loved having my pictures taken, but that changed. All of a sudden I didn't like most of the pictures anymore. I had gained about 1 dress size in weight, and although the proportions stayed the same I only found clothes in the 'very grown up women' department. Fashion provided these ridiculous tapered leg trousers with pleats but no stretch material. Before we came here I had a part time job at university so nobody really cared about what I was wearing. I guess that was the time when I gave up - and got even fatter. Meanwhile I lost a bit, but actually I'm not keen on losing a lot of weight right now. Body wise I feel quite good. I had orange peel all my life - oh well, who hasn't - and being past the 40 that won't change a lot, will it? Losing another dress size won't change the proportions and only will make my face look all thin and wrinkly. The pictures I have collected here are nearly all the ones I have of myself of the past 4 years. And having moved from Germany to England it were exciting, wonderful years. There should be more pictures with a smiling Rika on it.

This is going to change in the future. I'm not going to put an end to this project until I like myself in pictures again!

Amazing how much money one can spend on a handbag and a coat - but definitely worth it! All of a sudden everything falls into place.
20/11/04 - Oh, what a week
Went shopping on Tuesday and Thursday. Tuesday I found this coat at Laura Ashley. My friend had bought a coat there recently and I thought I'd give it a try, as before Laura Ashley didn't do it for me.

And there it was - all the colours of the Canadian autumn in a fabric I always disliked. I kept to my promise to at least try everything on and I felt at home at once. What a transformation to my face (apart from the big grin). I looked so much fresher. Of course I got it - and it was 20% off. My friend and my husband approved of it when I met them. So I was as happy as a Cheshire cat.
Next thing was the handbag. With the new coat the old black backpack showed how pathetic it actually looked. Very practical, not even ugly, but - 'Very Black Backpack'. It was the second time of my life that the shops closed too early for me. I made a dash through all the shops I had been in before looking for a coat - and a few more, dared even looking at red handbags - nothing! So I went to the next town two days later.

Oh what an experience. It's a very posh little town with quite some high price boutiques. But the clothes they have are gorgeous. They buy from all over the continent and that shows in the quality and style - and price. I went in one of them - actually the most expensive one - and first thing the owner asked me before I even could say 'hello', was: "What a great coat, where did you get it?" Gosh, was I over the moon. Telling her that this was all due to T&S she answered: 'Isn't it for all of us' and then told me that there was another women that day who came to buy a completely new outfit. Trinny and Susannah - you have a lot of fans out there!

Eventually I found my bag in another boutique. Quite big, what I need and what I think looks good on me. A small bag makes my bum look even bigger in comparison. Tones down the coat a bit (instead of powering it up even more as a red one would have done) and goes with everything. I've never spent so much money on a handbag before, but it makes all the difference. Who would have thought that a handbag can change the whole posture and attitude of a person.

Now we are off to London today to look for trousers/skirts and a bit more jewellery. Probably some ankle boots in brown to go with trousers. And if we don't find trousers I'm going to look for fabrics and then I will get a new sewing machine.

So, for my colours I learned: It's thyme when I want to tone it down and Canadian forest in fall when I want to power it up. Yay! That way I don't even need my colour cards anymore. When I have a big powerful item I tone it down with accessories and it I have a big soft item I power it up with accessories. Things become a bit easier now.

22/11 - A misconception about "Dressing Up"
Sitting here with my morning Cappuccino I'm contemplating the London trip yesterday. And then I got an insight. It is difficult to categorise clothes, or more precisely to define the categories correctly. For me there was:
dressed up = smart / smart casual
not dressed up = casual
Dresses and skirts always fell into the category of dressed up because you need higher heels, tights, nicer handbag...
Yesterday I bought a rust coloured suede skirt (which will be a tricky one to tone down) and then I had the trouble. I would wear it to work because we go very casual there - probably one reason I never really cared about what to wear. But I wouldn't wear it for occasions like 'Open Days'.
What I learned from that is:
There is no such thing like 'Dressing Up'
There is only a thing like 'Dressing well according to the occasion'
So basically I only bought casual things yesterday. The skirt, brown corduroy trousers, a green blouse shirt and a necklace my husband found for me. It was a great day actually, The shirt is one of these new ones which have only bits of a shirt attached to the collar and the sleeves. They had it in aubergine (my preferred colour so far) and green. Eventually my husband could confirm that the green looks much better and that I should go off the aubergine (at least for big items and close to the face).

Apparently there is a lot more shopping to do. I need one more pair of trousers, shirts and a cardigan kind of things (because of air conditioning at work) for the skirt, some more shirts for the trousers, smart clothes altogether not to talk of evening wear - not going often, but when invited I'm always in trouble. Ah yes and shoes, I only have black ones apart from the boots (Oh well, I have an update on that one!).

23/11 - Things are falling into place
Yesterday I got 4 lovely shirts and a cardigan (long' in similar colours like my coat) for warmth. The 'Colour Thing' is starting to work out well. The shirts look good with more than one other item. They tone down one skirt and highlight the other and go well with the trousers as well. It's the first time that I have a mix and match wardrobe.

I got complimented twice in the office yesterday.  My boss told me to stop now because he felt that otherwise he would have to raise my salary for having the best dressed PA. He was joking with the salary - what a pity - but that he considered a well dressed person an asset worth paying for astonished me. When he started talking I thought he would say: 'Oh, if you can afford clothes like these than I seem to pay you too much', I would have taken that as a compliment as well, But he actually showed pride in having a well dressed PA and even mentioned it a bit later (without me being there) to my husband who works in the same centre. Yay!

08/12 - Oh, I feel so good
We had our Christmas Dinner last night and the first time the question: "What am I going to wear?" didn't mean "I have nothing to wear.' It was about the choice between 'Do I feel like powering up or like toning down'. I definitely felt like COLOUR. And... I like my pictures again.

Meanwhile I have a second coat - very English - as my friend noted. But I just love it. With everything else being in tone I even get away with a bit of pink in it. And next week we are going to London again. I emptied the shops around here and need more feeding ground. This project was one of the best experiences of my life.
Dear Trinny and Susannah,
I thank you so much. At the beginning of this project I asked my husband if I were crazy to follow two TV-celebs I don't know, and to put a lot of money and effort into this. His answer was: 'Oh no, these women do an important job. You go ahead'.

My friend said: 'Wherever you look they talk of cosmetic surgery and workout and body shaping. These two are the only people telling you that you can stay as you are and look gorgeous, nevertheless'. So, you do a very important job. I may not have been in as desperate need of your help as some of your clients (probably I was, not knowingly), and I always acknowledged good dressing manors as something important and not as making the monkey for others. Thing is that all my life I've put in the effort and was rarely successful. At parties I looked at the others, measured myself with the many good looking people to than quickly looking around if there was at least one woman looking sadder than me. And than I thought: 'Well, I'm not the worst, people like me anyway - so it's good enough for me'.

Apparently I wasn't as confident as I thought I was. And your approach to fashion cured me from this. I know that there is still a lot to do, but you girls kicked my big bum into the right direction.
Never again: 'Oh, that's good enough for me'

I want it All!

Girls and women out there in the world,
Start trusting Trinny and Susannah - It works not only on TV. They really can change your life to the better! For me these 3 books were money well spent, and if anybody is moaning that this is only a merchandise to make them rich, well then:
Make them rich - They deserve it!