As I continue to recover from my recent COVID diagnosis, my Facebook Group has been really saving my bacon. Last week, when I was sick but didn’t know I had COVID, pulling myself together was really tough. Everything I did took way longer than it should have. For example, each month, I send out statements to my clients who are on retainer, a task that normally takes maybe an hour to an hour and a half. Last week, it took an entire day to complete. I had no energy to even think about blog topics and in addition to just not feeling well, I spent way too much time standing in line to get COVID tested on Thursday. So Monday’s and today’s posts were inspired by members of the group who posted insightful topics.
A Lover of Acronyms
Elle Pukalo, a member of my Facebook Group and the featured Member of the Month for January, is a lover of using acronyms to describe her style. If you read her interview, she even used them there. In a recent Facebook Group post, she used the word Style as an acronym when she said to in order for something to have a place in her closet a garment must be versatile and meet her:
- S– Produces a Smile
- T– Tells My Story
- L– Love It
- E– Effortless
Hitting the Five Points of Style
Even if Ellen dind’t creatively use S.T.Y.L.E. as an anagram to come up with these parameters, I think these are all brilliant guidelines to follow. In today’s post, I am expanding on Ellen’s fantastic approach to help you also achieve these benchmarks with your own wardrobe.
Produces a Smile
When we look in the mirror at what we are wearing, what we see back should make us smile. If it doesn’t, it should be reviewed. All too often, women don’t let their instincts guide them enough in their discernment of what should and shouldn’t stay in their closets. I know it seems odd that in a time where women are truly coming into their own, demanding more, shutting down practices like mansplaining or the concept that women need to be handled delicately, we all haven’t reached a point where we take the same tact with our wardrobes. My opinion is that women often become less confident among other women than they do around men in terms of asserting themselves. So, it’s in the world of fashion where women seem to lose their confidence because this tends to be a woman’s domain. We’re usually women among women and situations like this can give flashbacks to middle school amongst even the most confident of gals. Fashion isn’t easy for most women yet the agreed-upon belief is that it should be (read more about that here), to the point that women assume it was encoded in our DNA, that when women struggle it’s almost immediate they think there is something wrong with them. So a smile, which should be a big indicator of success, isn’t trusted.
To which I say, trust it. Ellen is right. The most consistent thing I see among my clients is that lack of trust in themselves is what keeps many of them from embracing what feels authentic. This makes the biggest part of my job teaching my clients how to believe those internal cues. What I have learned is it doesn’t matter what you wear as much as it matters how you feel when you wear it because when you feel good, your energy and how you engage with the world changes which then changes how the world engages with you.
Tells My Story
I love the idea that fashion tells a woman’s story because this is absolutely true. Clothing communicates whether you like it or not. You can get as superior as you want and say that fashion doesn’t really matter to you, but in the end, fashion doesn’t care about your opinion on the matter. So if you’re fashion is going to tell a story, regardless, make sure you’re controlling the narrative. We communicate most strongly through non-verbal communication, which includes body language and image. The key here is not to think as much about your clothing telling the exact story you want to communicate as much as having clothing makes you feel like the story you want to tell. It goes back to my last point about how you feel and the energy you give off as a result. You can’t dress to tell a story of confidence if you don’t feel confident in what you wear. It starts with you first and if you feel your story in what you wear it’s working.
Since the inception of my styling business in 2002, I have said that dressing young and dressing youthful are two very different things so I greatly appreciated Ellen’s third word in her anagram: youthful. There is a big difference between a woman who embraces her age and dresses in a manner that is stylish, current, and modern as compared to a seasoned woman who clings to her youth by wearing stuff she should have gotten rid of 30 years ago. The latter comes across as terribly desperate, and a woman is incredibly uncomfortable in her own skin. Worst of all, the opposite happens, she looks older, not younger. My mother had a theory, if you wore a trend once you don’t wear it again and while I am not completely rigid on this rule — I am enjoying my higher waist, straight leg jeans, pleated pants, and a touch of nostalgic grunge — as a 48-year-old, I am revisiting trends in a completely different way. I think this is the key point about dressing youthfully. You’re not cut off from having fun, from embracing cool trends coming down the pike, or even wearing what your daughter likes to wear, but the execution of these trends changes with whatever stage you are at in your life and that is what shows a true comfort with whatever age you are.
Life is way too short to buy things you are just okay about. The rebuttal arguments I always get are that it’s hard to find things, that sizing is difficult, that tricky body shapes make it too challenging. I’ve heard it all and while I appreciate these arguments and get that they are very real and true for these women, I also know they’re not accurate. I mean, yes, it’s accurate for them as their reality, but, if this were really true, I wouldn’t be able to be successful with clients who come in a wide range of sizes, ages, and with plenty of very specific dressing concerns. However —and this point cannot be stressed enough — what I also realize is this is my full-time job and that it can take hours upon hours to find the right things for my clients, time that no normal woman has for something like this. So while, yes, clothing does exist out there for everyone, it doesn’t mean that the average woman has the bandwidth to hunt it down.
All that said, I still stand by my point. I would rather you have next to nothing in your closet but have it be with things you love than a closet that is filled with things you feel just so-so about. I’m not suggesting everything has to be a Kondo-level love because that isn’t realistic, but it doesn’t make sense to waste your money on things you wouldn’t care about if they got lost in a fire. Make love one of the benchmarks during your next closet purge and see how much more you wind up getting rid of.
Not only should clothing be effortless to wear but it should look effortless on your body. Even before the pandemic, women had a pretty low threshold for uncomfortable clothing and now that we are nearly two years into COVID, that threshold is solidly in the basement. Nobody wants to wear complicated clothing while keeping in mind that that benchmark varies greatly for each individual. As far as clothing looking effortless, well, I think that comes when all the other letters in this acronym are firing. If your outfit evokes a smile, tells your story, is youthful and you love it, seamlessness between you and your clothing is created and that is what makes an outfit look so easy and natural.
My sincere thanks to Ellen for inspiring this post. Keep those acronyms coming!