Many of you may read the blog title and think… "Really ?? Is someone going to tell me now what to wear? This advice is coming from someone that dresses up their pet cat ?!"
The answer is NO, I will not tell you what you should wear. I believe that in general, we as a society focus way too much on external appearances. I believe that people should love themselves for who they are and express themselves in the way they feel represents them best. I believe that we should try to judge others less for how they look, what they wear, and how they present themselves to the world. We still have a long way to go from these ideals…..
So why am I writing about what to wear and why it matters?
- Outward appearance and style is something that I have been navigating the last few years since I left the corporate world. I believe that certain popular beliefs have held me back from being the best version of myself in the office. I now make more of an effort to focus my energy on this topic to be the best version of myself for my clients.
- Outer image is a topic that everyone can relate to and which often comes up in coaching. When exploring the topic of self awareness and ultimately acceptance of oneself, appearance sometimes gets woven into the story.
Theory : We all get dressed routinely everyday and in many cases automatically. I believe that by being more mindful and intentional about this simple daily action can lead us to a greater sense of peace and comfort in both our bodies and minds.
For many years, earlier in my career, I only felt confident when I wore high heels and a blazer that made me feel tall, professional and important. What I did not realize was that rather than dressing a certain way to get this feeling of confidence, I needed to do some inner work. It took me some time and some tough discussions to realize that even with flat shoes, my 5’1" demeanor still had presence, strength, and something important to say no matter how tall or professional I appeared. Can anyone else relate to this and how similar limiting beliefs can impact how you show up in the world?
Many of us feel the pressure to fit in or to dress to impress. We all strive to create a certain image of confidence and character that differentiates us from the others. We sometimes strive to meet the expectations of a certain role, a certain culture. We may dress to look how others would like us to look: intellectual, creative, attractive, tough, strong, etc.
So, the first question to ask yourself is:
Are you dressing for others or for yourself?
When we start to focus on dressing for ourselves, we may find that our prior styles were focused more on “out there” than on feeling good “in here”. Sometimes we may do something for so long, that it may feel like we are only "ourselves" when we dress a certain way that may not really feel so good on the inside.
A few follow up questions to contemplate:
- Is what you are wearing making you feel most comfortable to be your true self? (ie if you are energetic, are you wearing shoes or clothing that allow you to be nimble, fast and quick on your feet?)
- Are you honoring your core values with what you wear? (i.e. If freedom is a core value, are you wearing things that allow you to honor this value?)
- Are people getting a sense of who you are upon first impression, or are they seeing a false image?
- Are you comfortable? Physically and emotionally?
- What are the colors or patterns that you are wearing emitting to other people? Is there a certain energy or vibe that you want to create? Are the clothes that you are wearing getting you closer or further from creating this energy?
For some of us, answering these questions may be easy. Some may make this topic so simple or even irrelevant by finding something that works and repeating it everyday (i.e. wearing the same black turtleneck or colored polo shirt and just having their brand). For others, these questions may create some thought. You may be someone that has a closet full of colors, patterns and choices depending on the mood, depending on the day.
If you are part of the latter group, go ahead take this challenge:
- Go into your closet and take a quick inventory. Maybe even take a loved one with you whose opinion you trust.
- In case something does not give you joy or align with YOU and your values or needs.... toss it!
- Does your clothing represent how you want to look today at this point in your life? (or are you holding on to that outfit from your early 20s ….hoping that somehow our life will take us back to that time / place / emotion when in reality we have grown up into a new style?)
- Does it represent a realistic image of your true self or an image of someone else?
- Does putting it on bring you closer or further to your true self ?
- Most importantly: Is it comfortable? if not, what value would be honoring by wearing it to make it worth your discomfort?
Being comfortable and wearing things that align with our values and our true self expression may sound like a simple thing. I do believe that there are so many of us out there that have more to give to the world if they can be more true to themselves on the outside too. Help me to test my theory! Let us have faith in peoples ability to decide for themselves what to wear and who to be. This should not be scary or create fear. Just think of how much more creativity, confidence, energy and gifts could be given to the world when we are all our wonderful and expressive selves.
PS Now I will go and take the costume off my cat... he doesn't need a scary skeleton look to intimidate the world!