Trapped in a Fashion Rut … and the Secret to Getting Out

November 1, 2013

Trapped in a Fashion Rut?

You want to get out of your fashion rut and feel good about how you look, but every time you go shopping you leave discouraged or overwhelmed. The reason has as much to do with your mind as it does with your body and by incorporating two very important changes to your shopping experience, you can find new success every time you shop.

Think about it. You have been in a fashion rut for years (or maybe it just feels that way!).  Nothing you buy ever feels right any more. You’ve resorted to reading fashion magazines with titles like “99 Little Ways to Your Best Body” or “200 Secrets to Looking Great Now” with less than flattering results, and you even allowed your two best friends to take you shopping. Yes, they helped you choose new clothes, so why don’t you feel any better? Even after that intervention, you are still in a rut (you can’t remember what you are supposed to do with that long flowy plaid vest anyway?). You feel like an imposter every time you look in the mirror where a poor imitation of your friend stares back at you. You’re $500 lighter and no closer to finding a wardrobe that makes you happy. A cloud of hopelessness is descending so now what, you wonder!

The key here is that you don’t feel confident choosing clothes that you feel good wearing because you don’t love your body and you think nothing looks good on you. You feel like your body parts are shifting nearly daily or you’ve gained weight (or both) and somehow clothes just don’t fit the way they used to. You hyper focus on the parts of your body you don’t like and when you do go shopping all you see are things that don’t look good. You walk into a store and walk out again empty handed or you take those two well-meaning friends with you and walk out with clothes, but you don’t really feel any better when you get dressed than you did before you went shopping. Fashion magazines aren’t helping — they are all written for svelte twenty year olds who could be your daughters — and you don’t know where to turn. All you can think is that nothing works and that you’re doomed to look frumpy and boring for the rest of your life.

You’re left wondering that if magazines and makeover TV shows (where all the style gurus are handing down valuable fashion advice) and even your stylish friends can’t help, what hope is there for you? Wow … with that kind of attitude I can see where shopping would not be fun and it certainly wouldn’t be productive.

I promise, however, there is plenty of hope. First of all, when you look out into the real world, do you see women (be they female friends, family or strangers you’ve seen at the mall, work or grocery store) whose image you admire — women who look like they are well put together whether it’s for work or leisure? Of course you do. Get a picture in your mind’s eye of two or three of them and ask yourself this one important question: Are they all built like a super model? No, of course they are not and this is good news! Chances are good you are not shaped like a super model (I know I’m not!) and you just confirmed that you do not have to be super model tall, thin and very young to look great. You can look great no matter what size you wear, how tall you are or how young or old you are.  These women prove it — they are just like you with things they like and don’t like about their bodies.

What these women do have that you don’t is two things:

  1. Fashion guidelines to help you identify garments/outfits that have potential, and
  2. The belief that you CAN create a look you love.

These two things lead to increased self-confidence and the well put-together look you want for yourself.

Is this learnable? Yes.

Did they learn all of this in one day? No.

So, give yourself a break, use the information I’m about to share with you to move you step-by-step closer to having that put-together look you long for and the self-confidence will grow with each positive step.

So, where do you start?

Change Your Mindset

Begin with your mindset. Otherwise, the fashion tools will be ineffective. Why?  Because you get what you expect and if you expect not to find anything you love or you find something you love but they don’t make it in your size or you approach the shopping experience as if you were going into a losing battle, guess what you’ll get: nothing you like (everything will seem ugly, shapeless and too trendy) and things that don’t fit. You will prove yourself right.

Even if this has been true in the past, you must find a glimmer of hope in your shopping experience because if your expectations are based on the past and the past wasn’t good, then guess what you’ll get now? That’s right … more of the same.

Or, if your past shopping experiences were terrific, but now your body has changed (and not in a way that makes you happy) and you can no longer wear what you used to, but you wish you could and berate your body for not staying the way it was (you can see where this is going…), then you will go in with frustrated energy and all you will see are things that were created for your former body. Your mindset is crucial to a successful shopping experience.

Okay, you say, but how do I do that when I can feel my anxiety rising when I simply think about shopping, never mind step into a store!

Create a positive affirmation and visualize success. You have to train your mind to approach the shopping experience from a different place. Here’s a great one for starters: “More and more I find clothes I love and that look great on me.” Notice I didn’t say, “Everything looks good on me.” Or “I look great in everything I try on.” Even I (who knows what I am doing when it comes to shopping for clothes) do not look great in everything I try on and I won’t even think about shopping when I’m crabby or don’t think I’ll find anything I like. My results will be the same as yours would be — my mind will say, “You think you’ll only find things you don’t like or that don’t fit you well or are too young or badly made? Great … let me go find those things for you so you won’t be disappointed!” I’ve had this happen and I now know to laugh at myself and realize I went in with a bad attitude!

Create a positive affirmation that you can relate to. Then, don’t just say the affirmation once and wait for fairy dust to sprinkle down on your head and the perfect new store to open next door (although, hey, wouldn’t that be nice if it happened!). Say it over and over. Say it with as much joy and positive expectation as you can muster. Your mind/body believes what you tell it, so tell it something good and positive. Give your mind the assignment of finding things that will make you happy rather than prove you right that there’s nothing out there that looks good on you.

Then, as you are heading out to shop, visualize yourself having a great experience finding things you love in your size and color. Picture yourself trying something on and feel amazing. (It’s less about the specific item — so you don’t have to visualize exactly what that amazing piece is — and more about the feeling attached to it.) If you start to get overwhelmed and some of that old history comes flooding back (which it will from time to time), take a deep breath and repeat the affirmation and visualization.

Getting your mindset heading in a positive uplifting direction first is critical. Once that is flowing we can add in a few fashion tools to get you started.

Most of us, myself included, need to have guidelines when we shop. Understanding how to create a look you love takes more than just walking into a store and grabbing something random off the rack hoping it will work because it looks good on the mannequin or you saw it in a magazine. It is important to make your selections with intention. Knowing what to look for helps you ignore the parts of the store that don’t work for you and concentrate on the parts that do. Follow these rules for more success when you shop:

  • Search for colors that look great on you. If you don’t have a personalized color palette here are some basic guidelines. Do not buy light gray, yellow, army green or beige unless you are absolutely sure it is your perfect color. When in doubt (which should be most of the time with those colors), choose one of these colors: emerald to forest green, deep periwinkle, medium to deep teal, or watermelon. These colors all look good on a lot of people.
  • Make sure it fits. While this is not the only criteria for choosing a garment, it is very important. For instance, be sure the fabric skims your body and doesn’t cling too tightly or look too big and messy (lift your arms and if there is a lot of excess fabric there that creates buckling at the bustline, then the top is too big). And, if it doesn’t fit consider whether it can be altered by a tailor. Yes, if you love the garment it is ALWAYS worth having it tailored. A word of caution: a current trend is for oversized, shapeless tops. I generally recommend avoiding these, but if you love them, try wearing one with a pair of skinny jeans or leggings.
  • Make sure you love it. There is no substitution for loving something you are wearing. Look for patterns that make you smile, textures that feel good and fabrics that feel nice on. Never buy something because you think you should (remember how that worked out when your friends took you shopping).  You will never feel happy wearing it unless you are excited about it.

When you combine these tools with positive affirmations and visualizations, you are setting yourself up for success — one step at a time. Knowing what to look for is helpful and while everyone’s body is different and different styles appeal to different people, let me give you a few ideas that look good on a lot of women:

  • Get a wrap top like this one (the color pictured here is a pretty color on many people). The wrap is flattering because it hugs your curves and draws the eye up, the neckline is flattering on most women (balancing your head and neck) and the fabric has a nice weight to it and has stretch.

Nic+Zoe Wrap Top

  • Want a terrific jacket? This one looks good on a lot of women. A fun twist on the classic blazer. The fabric is cozy — like wearing a sweatshirt and the colors are gorgeous — deep teal, dark malachite (green) and nightshade (deep purple) among others. It also tends to hit just below the widest part of many women’s bodies. Wear it with jeans or trousers — even over a little black dress!

Nic+Zoe Jacket

You will notice that both of these are by Nic+Zoe. I have been very impressed with their line this season. They have a variety of colors, some gorgeous, dreamy prints, most items fit well and aren’t as oversized as we are seeing with other designers and everything I have looked at is cruelty-free/vegan friendly. Not only can you find Nic+Zoe online, but Lord & Taylor is now carrying some of the line, as is Nordstrom and many smaller boutiques like The Studio in Brookline, MA and you can even find them online at Zappos.com. Please note that they also make petite and plus size styles!

Remember, keep these ideas in mind when you shop:

  • Look for color, good fit and things that make you smile when you look at them.
  • Don’t go shopping until you have done your affirmations and visualizations. Don’t just say them rotely — they won’t work. Say them with passion, desire, as much positive belief as you can muster and say them often!

You WILL make progress if you do this.

You have to start somewhere or you’ll stay mired in doubt and frustration for the rest of your life — never feeling good about how you look and envying the women who do. That is no way to live and, better yet, it’s absolutely unnecessary. You CAN look great. I have just shared several steps you can take in your journey towards feeling like one of those women whose image you admire. Just take it one step at a time and celebrate each success no matter how small. You will get there!

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NOTE: Do you need guidance in helping you make choices that get you out of the rut? I know it can feel like a foreign concept at first! If so, check out my in-depth online course, ‘Dress to Impress–Yourself!’ It will answer all your pressing questions in over 42 lessons (1 daily) and you will have access to an exclusive on-line forum where you can ask me any questions to move you along in your journey more quickly and with more confidence!  Learn more here: http://www.dress2impressyourself.com

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