When you don’t know what your personal style is and you don’t feel confident about choosing clothes you love, it is tempting to let someone else dictate your style for you. But, don’t do it! You will never feel completely satisfied with how you look as long as you are dressing by someone else’s rules! It is never too late to explore what makes you happy when you get dressed.
Who do you see when you look in your closet? Is your mother’s face smiling back at you from that ruffled shirt you’ve never worn? Or is your best friend’s favorite dress hanging out in there taunting you?
In response to the question, “Who do you see when you look in your closet,” I most often hear:
- My mother
- My sister
- My best friend
- Myself, pre-children
- Myself, pre-thirty extra pounds
- Myself, pre-menopause
- My favorite celebrity
- Whoever was working at the store the day I went shopping
- The store window mannequin
- All of the above!
Guess what? When you look in your closet you want to see YOU — just you. You want to see items that make you smile and that you associate with fun times and delicious moments. Maybe the memories are of pushing your daughter on a swing, lunch with girlfriends, a successful business presentation, or a precious date with your sweetie. These are the simple pleasures that make up life. And you want these feelings to be reflected in every aspect of your wardrobe — down to your nightgown and slippers!
So evict the strangers and weed out those garments that make you roll your eyes or cringe. They have absolutely no place in your wardrobe. This exercise will help you make your closet all about you!
- Remove one item from your closet that feels more like someone else than you. If you are near your closet, go there right now and do this (if not, write down the first thing that comes into your mind so you will remember to remove it later). Do it even if you don’t know why it isn’t you or what to put in to replace it. The very first step is to get it out of there.
As long as something that is not you is taking up space in your sacred closet (yes, it is sacred because this is where your essence is expressed every day), you will feel overburdened, frustrated, annoyed or discouraged — or resigned to all of those feelings — every time you get dressed, and none of those is good. It is also very likely that you are not wearing this garment anyway. It is more like a security blanket, but the security is a sham.
- Identify one garment or outfit that makes you smile the second you put it on your body. It can be a dress, pair of pants, a pair of shoes or a scarf. No item is too small or insignificant.
- Lay the stranger and the item you love side by side, and get a piece of paper or a notebook.
- For the item that is not you, write down everything you do not like about it. Be as picky as you can. Maybe it’s the way the fabric feels. Perhaps the buttons seem overwhelming, or there are just too many of them. It could be that you dislike the pattern or the way it clings. Or perhaps it has a belt, and you do not like belts. Write down everything! If there are a few things you like about it, write those in a separate column. Maybe the color is pretty, but it can’t make up for the fact that the style is so shapeless.
- Write down everything you like about the item you love: color, texture, fit, shape, ornamental details, the way it feels or anything else about it that comes to mind. Maybe it makes you feel sophisticated, down-to-earth, spunky or pretty. Whatever it is, write it down.
- Use these lists when you go shopping to help you stay focused. They are your lifelines! The next time you try on an item, run down both lists and see how the garment compares. It is so easy to get distracted by all the choices, the lighting or the helpful “advice” from sales women or your shopping buddies. Keep this shopping mantra in mind: Only buy or wear something if you love it.
This is an excerpt from my book, That’s So You! Create a Look You Love with Beauty, Style and Grace. It’s a big topic and the foundation of creating a personal style you love. If you are not sure how to tell what makes you happy when you wear it and you need more support, get a copy of my book here: www.createalookyoulove.com And, if you want even more personal support check out my “Who Taught You How to Dress?” virtual coaching program or my upcoming “Your Style, Your Way” workshop. The most important thing is that you take step forward to get yourself unstuck.