I’m back after a month-long blogging hiatus. I can’t say it was necessarily relaxing; I didn’t technically take a vacation. You may notice that things look pretty different around here. I gave my entire website a long overdue and desperately needed makeover and I did it all myself, which I found preferable. Now that I know how to build it, I can fix it or change it whenever I want. Despite that, it wasn’t easy. I had a gazillion learning curves I had to overcome. Updating my site was riddled with problems, tweaks, and moments where I thought it would just be easier to throw my laptop against the wall, move to a remote island and start selling coconuts on the beach.
Working on the new layout of my website was also quite enlightening because it really reinforced the power of packaging for me. Did I ever tell you that if I wasn’t going to become a fashion designer I considered package design? It makes sense that I ultimately wound up in my profession of helping people powerfully package themselves.
Anyway, back to my website, if we’re being completely honest, my old website sucked. It was dated, hard to navigate, and missed a lot of features that could help my business succeed. With a site like this, I noticed how I often made excuses for it or felt weird about promoting myself. I knew I wasn’t putting my best foot forward and certainly didn’t feel it was representative of who I am or what my business is about.
Once I released my new website, I felt a sense of ease and confidence, like what my business is about is expressed properly, and it reminded me just how powerful visual communication can be, just like in my work with my clients. We live in a world where we use visual cues to get an impression of someone or something. Wouldn’t it be great if we could walk up to a person and just download all their info into our brains so we could know all about them in an instant? But we’re not robots and we’re not dogs that can glean everything they need to from another dog with one swift sniff of their butt. Therefore, things like visual presentation and packaging are critical.
Yet, here’s the thing, and the crucial missing piece of it all that I have been droning on about for years and everybody else seems to miss. It’s not about the perception of you by others that matter, it’s the impression you get of yourself that does. This is why it matters what we wear.
WHY IT MATTERS WHAT WE WEAR
This month, celebrate my 18th year in business. For the past 18 years, I have been styling clients and for the past 18 years, I have witnessed the lives of many clients change because of one small simple tweak — how they packaged themselves.
One could argue when a client starting dressing for the job, their boss took them more seriously and they got the promotion. Or that a client found a partner because she dressed for it. However, 18 years of working with clients have proven to me that it’s quite the other way around. When a person changes their outer appearance their relationship to themselves changes as does the energy they give off. You can’t act powerfully if you don’t feel powerful and when your clothing displays to the world what you want to communicate, you interact differently with the world. I am sure that you have had at least one incident in your life when you were caught not feeling great about the way you looked and noticed how you interacted with others expressed that. Perhaps you shied away, weren’t as bold as you could be, didn’t walk or talk with as much confidence as you wished you could.
Of course, there are people who are successful or powerful or confident despite their image and style being aligned with who they are. However, what I also have found in cases like this is they need to work harder to overcompensate for their visual packaging not being a match. Often, these women were aggressive, or loud or expended too much energy trying to get their point across. So exhausting. It doesn’t have to be this hard.
I once had a client say to me, “I look like the person I am” after we completed our work together. Consider that statement and the power she found in knowing that what she was expressing to the world matched who she is. How that changed how she interacted with the world and as a result how others interacted with her along with the ease that came for her. Remember, we’re not dogs or robots, we need to use our image as a tool to communicate who we are. It matters what we wear.
This is why I have always shied away from the term ‘dress for success’ because it implies something I don’t agree with. Dress for success is the idea that we have to figure out how to dress or package ourselves in a manner that aligns with our goals without ever taking into consideration how we feel in this clothing. It’s a defensive position that is also highly inefficient. Imagine trying to dress for success for others’ impressions of us and how fallible that is. Everyone interprets things differently making it nearly impossible to ‘dress for success’ for everyone. Yet when you feel power and it changes the energy you give off, there is no loss of interpretation by anyone.
A therapist once gave me an excellent visual to understand this. As she explained it, imagine a large rubber band was put around you and the person you are interacting with. When you move or change, the other person has no other choice but to move with you. So it’s not necessarily the clothing that changes how the world sees you, it’s how the clothing makes you feel and how that changes you and as a result how you engage and others respond.
I want you to consider the idea of dressing from the inside out. Tap into yourself first and dress in a way that personifies it. It’s super easy to know if the two are aligned. You will feel it the second you put something on, you will feel that energy of connection that puts you at ease, makes you feel confident, empowers you, or makes you feel alive, because that is the power of clothing and why it matters what we wear. It brings to life a part of yourself that resides within and allows the rest of the world to see it because you are naturally being it.