Fashion is the way I introduce myself to the world, every day, without saying anything.

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One of the most common phrases I hear when I’m working with clients is:

I never wear (insert type of clothing here) but I feel like I should.

It’s curious to me why we think that dressing a certain way is something we should do, implying that if we don’t, we’re wrong or bad. I know, I’m getting a little philosophical, but it’s true: we impose certain boundaries and restrictions on ourselves when getting dressed (and in life, amiright?).

One of the things I’ve been working on for years (and still continue to think about) is defining my style. Don’t get me wrong, I know my style pretty well, but I occasionally find my subconscious imposing these restrictions, and I always wonder why.

Here’s what:

  1. We’re inspired :: Okay, so, one of the biggest reasons we feel the pull to shake things up in our wardrobe is because we’re inspired. What a beautiful thing! Just like anything, the way we dress is a (wonderful!) lifelong process. We can’t be expected to wake up one day and say Yup! I’m done, I know my style and it will never evolve. Being curious about new ways to express ourselves sartorially should always be heralded and encouraged. For me, inspiration almost always comes from the streets of New York. I’m not trying to be cheesy, I mean this very literally; friends, colleagues, strangers and the like are constantly inspiring me with the things they put on their back.
  2. We’re self-conscious :: This is sad but true and probably obvious to everyone. Sometimes we feel the need to fit ourselves into a mold so we buy a bunch of clothes we think will achieve that. We know before we even get to the register (somewhere, deep down) that we can’t force ourselves to completely change who we are, but we do it anyway. What we’re left with is a hole in our wallet and less space in our closet.

Here’s who I am :: I’m a stylist who wears black jeans and sneakers almost every day of her life. Do I struggle with this because I sometimes feel like I “should” be wearing dresses and heels? You bet! Just yesterday I texted my sister complaining that I feel like I need “fancier” clothes in my wardrobe. I don’t, though. The truth is, if I’m not wearing the sneakers, I’m wearing nice boots which are just fine for a nighttime situation or working a wedding. But I’m only rarely (read: when the mood strikes me) wearing a skirt or dress and heels. Maybe that will change in the next few years, maybe it won’t, but I can’t force it. Forcing change is just going to choke the creative process, which is just silly and sad.

So, how to we prevent the self-conscious spiral from happening, and encourage this inspired state of mind?

  1. Identify the expectations you’re setting for yourself when getting dressed. Do you actually want to wear xyz item? Or do you just think that you should?
  2. Find those “should” pieces in your closet and remove them. Get them ready to sell or donate. Make some much needed space in your closet.
  3. What sorts of trend or patterns do you see in your wardrobe? Do you love to wear oversized sweaters? The color blue? Whatever it is, make a note of it, then:
  4. Consider the things that inspire you. Leather jacket? Nude lipstick? Stilettos? Who did you see wearing them? What did you like about their style, or the way they carried themselves?
  5. Do you already own the inspirational item in question (or something like it)? How can you work it into your wardrobe to see how it makes you feel?
  6. If you don’t own the piece in question, consider this: how would it make you feel to own it? Do you want it? Does it inform your existing style uniform (for me, remember, black jeans and sneakers) or is it a “should” item?

Guys, I’m still figuring out step 7. I don’t want to tell you guys to just go out and buy something because you think it inspires you. That’s not what I’m trying to do here. I’m trying to get some awareness brewing in our minds, because it is so easy to mindlessly get dressed in the morning, but it is also so easy to inspire yourself and others with what you put on your back.

I will say this, though, and I bet you knew it was coming. Take risks, experiment, and don’t (please!) say things like “I could never pull that off.” Give yourself some credit. Be gentle with yourself.

And that’s all I got for you today!








photo by Ashley Caroline.

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Courtney Romano
5 years ago

This is so great!