In rereading some of the posts and feedback I’ve gotten on the first three parts of this series, I’ve noticed that I might need to clarify or supplement a few ideas. Here we go!
It struck me while I was cleaning out my closet that I never really addressed the reasons why someone would want to undertake this project, partially because they’re sort of obvious to me. Yes, I discussed why buy vintage, but why would you go through all the trouble and expense of reworking your wardrobe? It takes time and money and effort, all things which might be in short supply. Isn’t it a little selfish? The answer is (at least) twofold for me. First, taking care of yourself makes you feel good, gives you confidence, and allows you to help others and do your job in the best way possible. You might (hopefully) end up saving yourself time (getting dressed before you leave the house) and money (focusing your purchases and buying smart) in the long run. Dressing well might even open up new opportunities for you and allow others to see you in a new light, which brings me to the second reason, and that is that no matter whether you like it or not, you are judged by your appearance, at least at first. It’s often said that if you wear something wrinkled, ill-fitting or otherwise sloppy, people will remember the clothes. If you wear something clean, well-fitted and showing your personality, they will remember you. It’s not about being constantly glamorous or at the height of fashion, it’s about allowing others to see who you are, which brings us to our next point.
2. Dress for who you are and who you want to be.
Clothing has an amazing transformative capacity. You know the saying, dress for the job you want, not the one you have? That goes for personal relationships as well. Allow others, professionally and personally, to see in you what you see in yourself. Defining your style is as much about who you are striving to be as who you are. If you love frilly pink things and low cut necklines, consider whether that fits in with who you want to be, and whether there’s a better way to incorporate those things with the style elements you’ve chosen. I’ll write about breaking your own rules soon, and how to do it in a way that doesn’t undermine the choices you’ve already made (in fact, I break my own rules all the time). For now, understand that this process isn’t about covering up who you are or denying yourself things you love, it’s about evolving and aligning your clothing with your personality in a way that feels authentic but also appropriate for your personal and professional life.
3. I’m no expert.
I’m just a woman whose at-the-time boyfriend said to her, “You dress poor.” I took a look in the mirror and realized that he was right, and it was costing me professionally. I realized that the way I was dressing didn’t at all reflect who I was or who I wanted to be, and I did the work to change it. I’m sure the process will evolve over time, and you can certainly put your own spin on it to meet your needs.
I think that’s it for now. Take some time this week to think about what your goals are in life – do you want a better job? a relationship? to end a relationship? take a business risk? How do those goals fit in with the style elements you chose in step 2? Make sure they’re aligned, and dive in to Step 3 with renewed energy.