A few things are going on right now that is giving me a lot of thought to my career of choice. Sometimes it just seems like such a trivial career path. Yesterday, I received word that a childhood friend who I grew up with lost her long battle with brain cancer. She was just 39. I come from a tiny New Jersey town, and between that and growing up in the Generation X era, my class was incredibly small at only about 100 kids in its entirety. Needless to say, everyone knew everyone. We were hardly a class, we were more of a large dysfunctional family. And, like family, no matter how far you stray, when you come from such a small community of classmates, the loss of one of your own can bring you all back together for support no matter how much time has passed and how distant your childhood seems. Even though I was never particularly close with this dear person who we lost, her death has made me incredibly sensitive to just how precious life is and how it can be gone in an instant.
In addition to this, in a week from today I turn 40. I’m not overly sensitive about this, though it seems those around me are. My getting older means they are getting older too. I am, however, very present to my life, what I want from it and what this milestone means to me. Where am I going? What’s next? Am I on the right path? It’s good to presence these sorts of questions from time to time. Oh, and do I need to remind anyone that the new year starts Wednesday? This always evokes a lot of introspection.
Like I said, working in fashion doesn’t come across as one of the most noble professions, at least on the surface. In fact, many could say that there is a certain shallowness and a concern for things that really don’t matter when you work in this field. I mean, as far as the bigger picture is concerned, does it really matter that Radiant Orchid is Pantone’s Color of the Year or that shoulder pad seem to be intent on making a comeback? Not really. Sometimes I wonder if what I do is all that important.
Yet, then I think about my clients and I remember why I left my fashion design career to embark on this path. I am in my profession because I really believe it fulfills a larger purpose for others and it really does make a difference. In my eleven years of working as a personal stylist, I’ve never had a woman come to me with a plea to make them trendy or to become something that they aren’t. Women have come to me with personal goals in mind, important goals, bold goals and big plans. They hire me to be part of the process to get them there. Like the point that I am at right now, most of my clients come to me in transition. This is why I love my job. This is why I do my job.
Personal style has nothing to do with fashion. I’ve said this many times. I’m not asking you to put fashion at the top of your priority list, but I think it is important to consider fashion and style as it relates to your goals. Here are some thoughts on how to do this and how my work has proven just how crucial it is in the equation of success.
Think and dress in an accomplished manner
It’s resolution time. Resolutions are sort of silly but they do make us aware of what we want to create in our lives next. When setting goals and resolutions the bigger we make them the scarier and insurmountable they seem. Yet, instead of seeing yourself as someone who has a big goal to tackle, imagine yourself as the person who has accomplished the goal. Who is she? How does she carry herself? How does she dress, communicate; what is the energy she gives off? This is the person you want to be, this is the image you want to project. Not the person who has no idea how they are going to get there or who is scared by a challenge.
When I start working with clients I style them as the person who already accomplished the goal. For example, if a client wants a promotion, she dresses in a promoted manner. Your style will help you get there when you dress as the end result. So, now it’s time for the hard question. Does your style reflect the you who has accomplished what you want next? Here are some more thoughts on this.
What really matters to you?
Trends come and go, fashion is fleeting. I get asked all the time what the hot trends are and people are often surprised to hear that I really don’t pay much attention. It’s not that important. When developing personal style it is all about dressing in a way that reflects what you value most. Skinny jeans, color blocking, whether or not a color is flattering, are all fruitless things to concern yourself with if your wardrobe doesn’t first, and most importantly, reflect what matters to you.
Be selfish with fashion, expect it to work hard for you. When I work with clients I teach them that they are in control of what they choose to wear, not the other way around. Here are ways to develop go-getter style.
Don’t let fashion use you
Fashion can make you its slave very easily if you’re not careful. Don’t believe me? How many unwearable items do you have in your closet? How many things have you bought for unnecessary reasons? Has logic always compelled you to buy something or have you been swayed by emotion or bought something even though you didn’t need it. Fashion can be a big, ugly user if you’re not careful. I’m not saying shopping and getting dressed should be boring and disciplined work, but I refuse to load my closet and waste my money on things that won’t serve me. Develop this attitude.
When clients call me they are over having an unworkable wardrobe. I teach them to make shopping fun and effective. Here are more thoughts on why most women don’t want workable wardrobes.
Think of your style as part of your story
Think of your personal style as a form of communication. It doesn’t matter what you want to say as much as how well you say it. Clothing communicates. When I work with clients it’s more about teaching them how to communicate more effectively, with less effort. Here are ways to use your style to tell others your story.
Obviously, personal style is just a part of the equation in the achievement of goals. Even I am not silly enough to think that looking good will get you everything you want. Unfortunately, dressing for success on its own doesn’t work, which you can read more here. Yet, by creating an image and feeling of confidence and success in your outer appearance, it will help you get wherever it is you want to go. As we approach the new year, take inventory of your life, think about what you want to accomplish next and take a good look at how you are going out into the world and if what you want and what you express are aligned.
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Happy (early) New Year and Happy (early) Birthday! Both occasions worth celebrating! (I’m 10 years ahead of you in the “big birthday” category. It’s not that bad, trust me. 40 is going to look great on you!
Bridgette, you love what you do and you are wonderful at what you do. Never forget that. You are making a difference in many lives. It matters. More importantly, YOU matter! Thank you for all you do!
[…] the start of the new year Bridgette Raes’ post on considering fashion and style as it relates to your goals really resonated with […]
[…] developing personal style, it is all about dressing in a way that reflects what you value most. Skinny jeans, color blocking, whether or not a color is flattering are all fruitless things to […]
Bridgette… Never feel bad about what you do!!!!! I work in a serious area, difficult to talk about. I like to dress well, stylishly…. Because it helps me make sure I feel OK and that people take the message seriously but engage with it! Many i work with dont care, but some do. It helps deliver a posiribe message about the fact we deal with a seriois topic but we are warm and aoproachab,e. Imahine workinh with breast cancer information and wearing scrubs…. Not good. Imagune working with suicide preentioin and wearing black. Imagine delivering a message about prebventing hiv/aids in baggy ill ftting clothes. If we don’t look polished and engaged, how can our message be?
You help a LOT. You are serious about looking professional!!! And your words work for me and many many others like me.
There is nothing trivial about helping a woman gain, build, restore or maintain self-esteem!!