My friend Adrian is writing a book. It's all about how normal people can become people of virtue. It's an experiment of sorts and every month you try to develop a different virtue. I'm one of the testers of the program. Last month was integrity (didn't do too well). This month is courage (doing much better thank you). While preparing for this blog and thinking about the hits and misses I've had with my own personal fashion I was struck with how much the idea of courage has to do with personal style.
My hairdresser says that no one should have the same hairstyle for more than a year. You should change something--brighten the color, add bangs or layers--something. I think that her advice is very good and can also be applied to clothing and other aspects of fashion. Styles change. And, if you're still wearing the exact same outfits that you were wearing 10 years ago that means they changed without you.
All of us have the tendency to hang onto clothing items that we love and make us feel confident. There's no problem with that. The problem is hanging onto all of them and not getting new ones. I know this amazing woman. She's talented, successful, attractive and really smart. She has two children who are in their late 20s. Two years ago for their family Christmas card she sent out a picture that was taken of her family when her children were small--4 or 5. The inside of the card showed her family in the same type of clothes and the same poses but the picture was recent. The card said something clever about how around the holidays we don't like things to change or something. It was a nice card. But one thing struck me as wrong. In the recent picture this woman was not just wearing an outfit that was similar to the one she wore in picture on the front but was wearing THE VERY SAME LARGE-PASTEL-FLORAL-PRINT-ON-AN-OFF-WHITE-BACKGROUND TWO-PIECE SUIT. This woman is in amazing shape. She could beat me in a foot race, arm wrestle and all contests that involve not eating cake and candy. But those capital letters are not accenting how great she looked. Her lack of change in wardrobe and hair style (dull brown, crunchy perm) don't do justice to her beauty.
So to the woman I know and all of us who have a little trouble moving with the times I offer a couple of suggestions on how to make it less painful. Be brave. It won't hurt too much.
1) Find a Style Icon.
Is there someone at your work who dresses the way you want to? Is there a celebrity who every time you see her you think, "she is so amazing?" Copy them. Do what they do. I don't mean that you have to copy every outfit that they wear exactly (that's creepy). But look at trends. Here's my newest style icon (the woman in black. Though I admire the one in pink as well).
What trends do I see? Knee length skirts. Check. Cardigan. Check. Moderate heels. Check. Those are all things I can do. Buying a $2000 designer dress really isn't in the cards right now. But a knee length skirt with a little tulle? Totally doable. Sting of pearls? I'm on it.
2) Take a good look at yourself
Chances are good that part of your style is a little bit like who you admire. What parts of your style fit and what is going to have to change?
3) Be ready for change.
This is especially for those of you who run a little on the side of informal. I know that sweats and scrubs are incredible comfortable and there are many places you can wear them--for instance, if you're in a coma, or recovering from surgery. Fashionable clothes don't feel like sweats and scrubs. If you're wearing pants that fit appropriately, you'll be able to feel them on your body. That's not a bad thing. You don't have to be uncomfortable but it's true that at the end of a day wearing cute, girly shoes you feet are going to feel more tired than they would if you were wearing sneakers.
4) Start Small.
No one is asking you to become Lady Gaga over night
(photo courtesy of people.com)
(besides, truthfully, most people can't pull off that kind of look. And really wouldn't want to). Start with accessories. Shoes, jewelry and bags are easy to change. And your changes don't have to be drastic. If you normally wear simple necklaces, try something a little more chunky. Look at this fashion moment from my icon. Totally unassuming jacket right? Yes. But look at that brightly colored shirt underneath. You could do that.
6) You don't have to break the bank.
I have a confession to make. I'm 30 and I am only now curing my fear of girly shoes. For the first time this week I bought myself a pair of pointy toed shoes (I know, I know a little late getting on the wagon). This pair in fact.
And when I walked into work, my workmate said, "great shoes." And he's a guy. And not gay. Why, you may be asking, did I only buy them now? Because I found them at the thrift store and I thought $4 was a reasonable price. You can buy a clothing item that you're a little scared of at the thrift store and if you hate it when you get home and try it on again, no problem. You've only spent $4.
Make a goal girls (and guys). What are you going to change about the way you look? What small changes can you make? My next goal. Conquering the 3/4 length sleeve jacket. And the origami neck blouse. Oh. And the peplum dress. So I've got at long way to go. It's okay. Baby steps and the simple question, "what would my fashion icon do?"