As you know, I’ve taken on a big personal style project. I’m working through one of my favorite personal style books, The Curated Closet by Anuschka Rees, and documenting my own journey of rebuilding my dream wardrobe. For two weeks, I took selfies of my outfits and saved them to a folder on my desktop. My task was to open all of those pictures and answer the status quo questionnaire to really reflect on what I’m wearing. The results? Overall happiness with my outfits was a 3 out of 10 for the following reasons. My wardrobe reflects where I was in my life 3 years ago (yes, even a stylist can get into a wardrobe slump and take her superpowers for granted), and is not a reflection of who I am today. My color palette is on-point, but I found myself in a “work from home” wardrobe where I could work in my yoga pants no problem. My main activities for the past few years have been working out, and building a personal styling business from my laptop. Doing this exercise has confirmed what I already knew: I was not connecting with the clothes in my closet and it was time to rebuild my wardrobe. Your clothes say a lot of about you. They tell your story. Even if you think you don’t spend a lot of time picking out your clothes, or you could care less about fashion — what you wear says a lot about who you are. Your personal style has a lot of control over how you feel about yourself. More than you might think. Personal style is a means of personal pride in oneself. How you dress either says I have self-respect, or I just don’t give a shit. Hey, do you. But if you’re feeling disconnected and your wardrobe doesn’t support you feeling like yourself, then you step out into the world every single day walking around wearing rose-colored glasses. It’s like trying to see while you’re driving, but there’s mud on the windshield. Anuschka Rees says, “our clothes tell a story, our clothes reflect our personality and what’s important to us.” This week, I dove into my closet to find what’s really important to me.
Clothing Is A Catalyst For Transformation.
Clothes have the power to transform us from who we are into who we want to be. I’ll tell you a quick story. When I turned 15 years old my father sat me down, handed me my car insurance bill, and told me it was time to get a job and take care of myself. I worked at an all-suites hotel throughout high school and college doing everything from breakfast attendant, cook, housekeeping, front desk representative, night auditor, laundry attendant, and so on. Whenever I had plans after work, I would use the restroom to change out of my uniform and into my own clothes. There was a maintenance worker named Timmy who was a great storyteller with an inconsistent work ethic. Every time he would see me leaving work in my street clothes he would always call me the “transformer”. That became my nickname. I guess I went from maid to young lady when I switched wardrobes.
Being Well-Dressed Means Business.
Recently, I went on a job interview. I had very little tailored business attire to choose from, so I had to get creative. Long ago, my mother gave me a vintage knee-length black polka-dot dress with buttons all down the back. It had shoulder pads and wasn’t tailored to my figure, but it came with a cute peplum dress belt in matching fabric with two snaps in the front. As much as I love the era in which it was made, I didn’t want to look like I was interviewing for a telegraphing job, so I paired it with a white blazer and simple black bumps with sheer black stockings and wore it without the belt. This way, I could wear it without taking it to the tailor because my blazer was fitted. I paired it with elegant, simple earrings and red lipstick and was ready to go. I ended up going in to interview for a seasonal job in retail, and walking out with a full-time executive job because of the way I was dressed. I also negotiated my salary to the top-tier of the income bracket for that position. This is the power of transformation when it comes to clothes.
Clothes That Create Cognitive Dissonance.
The reason why I excelled so much in that interview was not only because I was dressed for it, I was also qualified for the position. But what I was wearing in particular was aligned with my authentic personal style and truest self-expression. I’m so bummed I didn’t take a photo to show you! Next time, I’ll try my best to capture the Jackie O archetype living inside of me. I think dressing like a lady emulates self-respect, grace and humility, all qualities of my personal character. The power wasn’t all in the red lipstick and the vintage dress that day. It was in carrying myself with dignity which opened the conversation up to a new avenue of possibility. I wasn’t just wearing a business suit to a job interview (although if aligned with my personal style would have been fine). I was dressed like a business executive, but in a way that felt authentic to me. I didn’t strip myself of my femininity and try to do business like a man. I owned my true self. I walked in with grace and intelligence, business savvy and humility, both my yin and my yang were in tact. My divine feminine very much created the opportunity for me to step into a new role that day. I took the job, and wore my signature red or pink lipstick every day since. When I walked out of the corporate office that day, a customer came up to me and said, “Excuse me, are you the store manager?” I smiled and said no, but someone at the customer service desk will be happy to help.
It’s very important that we have clothes that feel like us. Wearing clothes that don’t match our inner selves creates cognitive dissonance, and in result, we feel uncomfortable and “dressed up” even when there’s nothing wrong with the clothes themselves. Anuschka Rees says, “to be confident and comfortable, we need clothes that feel like us”. That black polka-dot vintage dress with the white tailored blazer and red lipstick felt like me, which is why I walked in for a seasonal retail job and walked out with an executive position. Yes, I had the experience and intelligence to do the job, but the clothes I was wearing created the opportunity for me to be seen as an executive.
We need clothes that feel like home, not like were staying at a friends house or hotel. You appreciate staying at a hotel, but nothing feels like sleeping in your own bed. So, how can you tell if your clothes are creating cognitive dissonance? You feel uncomfortable in them, and not so confident because the clothes themselves really don’t line up with who you are right now in your life, and are not a true reflection of your authentic personal style. Although, I nailed my wardrobe for the interview, themajority of clothing in my closet is best suited for a work from home solopreneur. Which worked for my life three years ago, but isn’t the best reflection of who I am now. Seriously, take a look at this photo on the top right for evidence. Not horrible, but this says work from home solopreneur personal stylist business attire. Even the photo to my left here is super casual and isn’t a true reflection of my personal style. I’m really not that much of a casual attire person. I seriously cannot wait to rebuild my wardrobe. It’s gonna be like BAM! If you don’t know, now you know!
“Your style isn’t random. It’s also not something you were born with — it’s a reflection of your experiences and the associations you picked up over the years. As you go through life, you collect new experiences, you read, watch movies, and discover new things.” — Anuschka Rees
How To Develop Great Personal Style.
Developing your personal style is a work of art, much like creating a sculpture. Think of your colors, fabrics, silhouettes, and other visual aesthetics as the clay. Anuschka Rees says that before you can do anything else, you’ve got to collect your clay. This is all about digging deep, and immersing yourself into fashion inspiration and experimenting with clothing and looks, prints and colors that you may not have played with before. When we experiment with different colors and materials, we learn something. We learn about what we like, what we thought we liked, and what we definitely do not like. This is your clay. Experimenting with what inspires you. The next time you go shopping, let your eye take you where it wants to go. Screen shot looks and outfits that catch your eye on Instagram or social media and keep a folder of style inspiration on your desktop. This is how you collect your clay, by gathering inspiration for your dream wardrobe. Even people with great style, even stylists like myself, they all had to work at fine tuning their personal style. They didn’t just roll out of bed looking like Ryan Gosling or Beyonce. They worked at it. Just like you go to the gym. Just like you eat clean to get healthy. Just like you meditate to control the monkeys in your mind. Practice makes perfect. And your personal style changes over the years, but getting in the habit of fine tuning it makes it easy to cut through the noise and fashion trends and train your eye to see through the bullshit to your own, authentic personal sense of style. This takes more than flipping through fashion magazines. This means collecting images of outfit inspiration and going out and actually trying things on that you think you’d like. Which is the next step in my personal style journey. The next few weeks I’ll be collecting my own style inspiration, making a list of things I like, and then going out into the field and actually experimenting with that list and fine-tuning it.
Next up: Discovering Your Style, phase I and 2: Get Inspired and Experiment and Fine-tune, then Putting It All Together with Your Style Profile. Stay tuned!