Flaunt that sexy Agile!

A few years back, on my first visit to Paris I came across a pretty little number in one of the shops. It was a Chanel (style) jacket. 

I fell in love with it instantly and thought it would be a lovely addition to my wardrobe. The jacket had a beautiful off-white colour, flattering cut and when I tried it on I felt a million dollars. It was trendy, stylish and was at a reasonable price…well the reason being that I had to have it. 

When I arrived back to the hotel, I laid it out on the bed and started to fantasize about how it will elevate my look, it will go with everything adding sophistication, chic. I could hardly wait to introduce it to the rest of my clothes.

Once at home unpacking, I stood in my closet and sure enough started to put together the outfits I imagined. It turned out that the waistline covered my jeans, so that didn’t work. I tried layering with dresses, it looked strange. I was beyond frustrated. It seemed that my chic French jacket didn’t ‘converse’ with any of the things I already had. I am so many things but a quitter ain’t one them. So after very frustrating two hours, I finally found a pair of pants and a top to go with it and with a pair of earrings I felt I could pull it off as an office look.

The real-life experience of the next day just added to my already boiling frustration. It turned out that the jacket can only be worn within the temperature range of 15-18 degrees, anything above would cause me to sweat profusely underneath and the back of it would run up in a way that wasn’t flattering either, the inner lining cut in every now and then plus the texture of the material left fuzzy white bits on my black pants. Lets not mention if I did in-door sports activities in it – such as walking to the meeting room, reaching for the water bottle across the table- all turned out to be no-no.

I was in full despair. After a few uncomfortable experiences, I put it down to an expensive wardrobe malfunction, put it in the back of my closet and kind of gave up on it.

It was not until I read a book about how to put together a functioning wardrobe that I came to identify the core of the problem. I was in possession of a trendy wardrobe orphan. A wardrobe orphan is a piece of garment that you fall in love with, you feel you must have it because it makes you feel trendy but it doesn’t communicate with anything else you already have. May it be the case that the ones you already own are out-dated or the new one needs custom-tailoring to fit properly. It turned out that you are either lucky enough to build a completely new wardrobe with the help a professional – for example a stylist – or you engage in a painstakingly long and organic process of integrating the new piece.

The book also explained that you need to have a vision of what you want to communicate to the outside world with the way you dress. It needs to make you confident about your assets and you should be able to build on it. After doing an honest assessment from head to toe, you take each of piece of garment you own and not only align it to the vision of yourself -the bigger picture- but they also need to have the ‘chemistry’ with each other to compliment the overall look. Each piece need to go a long way by being versatile enough to be worn with many of the other pieces. Who would have known that it can be such a complicated and sophisticated process.

I am not going to lie to you, I was determined, so I did hire a stylist. She helped me by having an honest conversation about all this, also acting as a sounding board to my doubts.

And as for my beloved jacket, she had me take it to the seamstress to change the inner lining to a more comfortable material and we found that actually it goes with a different set of pieces real nicely. Mind you, I did need to buy a couple of new things as well—oh, the drag of it:) In the end we managed to create an environment in which I feel confident, successful with enough versatility.

I often quote this fashion disaster incident as an example for falling in love with a trendy new thing -such as using agile methodology without actually preparing the environment to integrate it into. It is a seemingly easy thing to introduce it, setting up the teams and going through the motions as it is described in the book. However what we find is that said environment -the company culture- does not understand and is unable to adapt the newcomer method smoothly. Hence against all good intentions on everyone’s part, agile methodology remains somewhat of a corporate orphan -just like my Chanel jacket. A trendy, expensive thing that should make you happy.

If you are lucky enough to recognise the similarity between your own story and mine, do not hesitate, bring the experts on board and start fixing the culture so the agile orphan can be a full-fledged member of the corporate family.

And then you will be able to flaunt your sexy agile!