I have been working with a new client for a few months and I adore her. To protect her identity, I will give her the alias, Mrs. Resplendent, which means splendid or sublime. Mrs. Resplendent hired me when she made the decision to maximize her potential at work and realized that her image and work style needed an upgrade to achieve this goal. During a session recently, she said something quite profound, “my goal is to not think about what I am wearing.” She went on to say, “I want my clothes to be me.”
Mrs. Resplendent and I talked about how she had encountered times, either in her personal or professional life, where she felt like her clothing wasn’t doing a good job of representing her well and how she reacted. It’s a point I have touched upon numerous times on this blog, the idea that we act and carry ourselves differently when we feel our clothing accurately represents us.
I was thinking about Mrs. Resplendent’s comment while previewing some looks put together by another client of mine, let’s call her Mrs. Charming, in preparation for her closet edit. When I work with clients virtually, I rely on photography to help get a baseline of their starting point. As I was scrolling through this new client’s photos, I could tell which outfits were and weren’t her. Up to this point, I have had all of one conversation with Mrs. Charming. How could I possibly know whether or not something was her with such little information? Could I really tell if something she was wearing was her or not? From years and years of practice, I pick up on cues that have never steered me wrong. To describe the feeling, it’s similar to the reaction you have when someone tells you a lie. You know, that feeling? You don’t know exactly what it is that convinces you when a person isn’t being fully forthcoming, you just know they aren’t. That is the feeling I get when a client isn’t wearing something that is off or not honest for them. Even if it looks good or passable, it’s not a fit for them, it’s a lie. I think that was what Mrs. Resplendent was trying to explain, she wants a style that is so truthful about who she is, it just becomes part of her package.
RECOGNIZING YOURSELF IN YOUR CLOTHING: THE KEY TO ESTABLISHING YOUR STYLE
The interesting part about my feelings of when a client’s outfit doesn’t feel right or honest for them is that I am rarely wrong. Never have I told a client something doesn’t feel right for them and they have told me it was their favorite outfit. And this is not due to me having some sort of outrageous skills. It happens because of how remarkably we change when we don’t feel right in something that isn’t right for us. You can’t outrun an outfit that makes you feel bad when you wear it. It will always tell on you.
Early on in my career, I happened to be shopping with my sister. She was in need of a coat and when she tried on this blazing orange duffel coat, she simply said, “I feel like me in this coat.” Everything about her demeanor changed once she put it on and she wore that coat until it practically fell apart because it made her so happy. I have had experiences with clients where a simple change in appearance got them three job offers in a week after a long dry spell trying to find work. Was it the suit that helped my client with the job offers? No, but how she felt wearing it did. Self-employed clients have tripled their sales, others have gotten promotions, left husbands, found new relationships, started businesses, and more, and all have credited working on their image and style as a key part of these successes.
By that token, fashion does matter, but not in the way many women assume it does. Women get so caught up in the rules of fashion when establishing their style, the appropriateness of what they should wear, they lose trust in themselves and don’t listen confidently to the voice that tells them that what they are wearing feels like a lie to them. Clients don’t just want fashion advice from me, they want permission to trust themselves. And if you think about it, if you wear something with confidence, does it really matter what exactly that is? Take one scenario where a woman is wearing what is considered the right thing but feels like a fraud and another woman who wears what feels honest and truthful for them. Who do you think makes out better in the end?
Does Your Wardrobe Feel Like a Lie?
Do you have good things in your closet but still don’t feel great wearing them? Does something feel off but you can’t quite figure out what it is? Do you notice that you don’t engage as confidently as you wished you did? While the things in your closet might be perfectly acceptable, they may not be perfectly acceptable for you. Don’t discount what clothing can do for you in terms of feeling good, being confident, and achieving goals, but don’t lose sight of how it works. It’s not what you wear that counts, but how you feel when you wear it that does.