Have You Fallen Victim to the Comfort Trap?

July 25, 2014

With today’s hectic pace of life and constant demands on your time and energy, it is natural to seek as much comfort as possible whenever and wherever you can.  Feeling comfortable physically, especially in the clothing you wear, is one of the key components to being able to deal with the rest of the stress life throws at you.

But, what happens when that natural desire for comfort goes too far?

Yes, the sense of peace and well-being that comes from wearing clothing that is physically comfortable is so delicious.  But, it works to your detriment when comfort is the ultimate (and sometimes only) determining factor in whether you wear something or not.

You know the feeling…your yoga pants feel so yummy to wear at your yoga class or lounging around the house and pretty soon those yoga pants are worming their way into your every day life.

Or, somehow that jean jacket or blazer hanging unworn in your closet doesn’t hold a candle to the coziness of your fleece hoodie so what do you reach for day in and day out?  It’s not the jean jacket or blazer!

The question then becomes, where do you draw the line and more importantly, how do you marry comfort and style?

Of course, it is natural to seek physical comfort and how fortunate we are to live in a time when clothing has so much ease and softness to offer.  From fleece to stretch, the sky’s the limit and I am thankful every day that this is true.

So, before you worry that I am chastising you for seeking comfort, let me assure you that while it is very important to me to feel good about how I look, it is equally important to me to be comfortable—and that feeling grows with each passing year.  That, along with having worked with so many women who feel lost in their search for style and comfort, makes me intimately familiar with the constant allure of the comfort trap.

I promise I am not here to talk you into ignoring or overriding your desire to feel comfortable. I am here to help you reframe some of the driving factors that keep you stuck in the trap of coziness at the expense of your emotional comfort and sense of well-being about how you look.

Women come to me all the time saying, “I need to feel comfortable in my clothes, but I have completely lost my sense of style as a result.  Is there a way to have both?”

The answer is yes!  But, if you’ve been stuck for a while, the next question is how can you have both.

First let me say that everyone’s idea of what is physically comfortable is different.  For some women it means nothing restrictive – everything is oversized and shapeless.  For someone else it could ease of movement which could translate into shorts and flip-flops.  One person might feel cold all the time so layers and warm, cozy fabrics are critical while another person runs hot and wants fabrics that breathe and feel airy even in the winter.  From there everyone has a different idea of what fabrics are acceptable.  And, don’t get me started on shoes!!  The variations and personal preferences are endless.  It’s part of what makes you unique and part of what drives you crazy each time you shop or get dressed.

That said, there is one common thread (in addition to the deep desire for comfort, of course):

You are limited by your pre-conceived, familiar notion of what is comfortable so that you can’t see what other options are available to you.  You’ve tried all the possibilities you can think of, but you still feel stuck in a rut with no appealing alternatives.

And, this is what leads to a sense of sacrificing one form of comfort for another—in this game of cat and mouse, physical comfort wins out:

While you feel physically comfortable, you do not feel emotionally comfortable with how you look.  Your sense of well-being has been compromised, but you don’t know what else to do.

Breathe…there’s hope…

The first step is to open up to the possibility that comfort can come in different forms – forms that might surprise you if you let them?  Let me help you step out of your ‘comfort zone’ long enough to consider something new!  There are always other choices available.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Instead of yoga pants, why not try something similar but with a bit more structure like Yoga Jeans (by Second Clothing Co.). You can find them here in skinny, straight leg and bootcut (even in brown deep purple and so many more colors!) or for taller women 38” in-seam:Yoga Jean Jeanmachine
    If you are local to the Boston area, The Studio in Brookline carries them.  They are made to be super soft and stretchy and to hold their shape – the best of both worlds!
  2. Instead of a plain, traditional t-shirt or tank top, try a wrap top or a top with an interesting print to keep the eye moving—making it less likely the eye will settle on a particular body part that way.  Both of these options add interest without being over the top.  This top by Nic+Zoe is soft and stretchy:
  3. wrap topas is this one:Nic-zoe print
  4. Or, add a crocheted top over a standard tank top.  (I have seen this top and not only is it pretty, but it’s super soft – and also comes in plus sizes):Lucky Crochet Top
  5. Nothing is more comfortable than a polyester-spandex dress.  And, nothing is simpler!  On a hot day this dress can go anywhere and it will take you mere seconds to get dressed (this is the summer version, but there are options for cooler weather as well):maxi dress

Please remember: no matter what you choose to wear, these three fashion guidelines are always important:

  1. Make sure the colors are your most flattering.  My partner, Marion, only wears t-shirts and shorts this time of year.  They are comfortable to her and she feels good wearing them (ahhhh, that sense of well-being).  But, she also makes sure to choose colors that look great on her.
  2. Make sure it fits!  For some women (you?) oversized and shapeless is synonymous with comfort.  I can promise you that you can find clothes that fit you well and feel comfy.  Or, yes, have them tailored.  Marion’s t-shirts often go to the tailor first to be shortened.  It makes a huge difference in how they look and feel.
  3. Be true to who you are.  Comfort alone is not a defining aspect of who you are.  The comfort level is a physical component that appeals to you, but who you are inside goes much deeper than that.  I’ve chosen items above to appeal to different personalities because satisfying that need for authenticity is critical to feeling good in your clothes.  Think about it…are you someone who is joyful, sweet, bodacious, funny or dynamic (just to name a few)?

Take a look and see if who you are is reflected in what you are wearing right now.  For instance, if you chose joyful as a defining characteristic and you are wearing a gray t-shirt and jeans, there’s likely not much joy evident there.  If that’s the case, consider how you can add more joy?  It could be by way of color (blue? Green? Pink? Nearly any color is more joyful than gray), print/pattern (polka dots?  Paisley?  Even stripes are more joyful than anything plain gray), details on the garment (sparkles? Fun buttons?), or the accessories you choose (a pretty scarf, interesting shoes or even adding shiny silver earrings will add some joy to a gray top).  These are just a few ideas.

The next time you get dressed (or shop), expand your definition of comfort.  Try something new and always allow (in addition to physical comfort) color, fit and personality to influence your choice.  If you do, you will be able to feel both your physical and emotional well-being breathe a collective sigh of relief!

Are you stuck in the comfort trap?  Please comment on my blog and let me know what has kept you stuck in that rut—and if you were able to move beyond it, what helped?

Note: All garments pictured here are vegan-friendly (made from fabrics that did not harm any animals).

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