Every week, the topic of what my blog post will be about hangs over my all head until I come up with it. I don’t mind writing a blog post weekly but until I figure out what the topic will be, the nagging feeling of needing one follows me around until I do. Once I square it away, I can at least mentally check it off the list. Although, the next challenge is always figuring out when exactly I’m going to carve out time to write it.
This week was sort of an abundance of riches. I had two post ideas in my back pocket. My first idea was to write about my wardrobe plan for fall which I knew was going to be ambitious to work on. Last week was one of those weeks where each day would end and not one thing I had planned to get done got done, and where on most days I didn’t actually start working on the things I had wanted to do until 3 pm. You know those weeks. This is also why I watch tv in the evenings with my laptop and work every Saturday without complaint— people leave me the heck alone. These are the few uninterrupted hours I get, and they’re heavenly. My other blog topic came to me after my session with my client Mrs. Manifold. Remember her? Everyone loved Mrs. Manifold.
How Mrs. Manifold Learned to Have Fun with Fashion
You have to read the post I wrote here. It’s not that I told this huge story about her or shared much about her wardrobe or life, but my conversation with her inspired a post that is still one of my favorite things I have ever written. I wrote about how women have a history of erasing parts of themselves to fit into preconceived images of who they are expected to be and how they are expected to look. It was a gloves-off post that took a firm punch at fashion and also looked women square in the eyes for their own lack of certitude.
Of course, everyone was hopeful for a play-by-play of what would happen with Mrs. Manifold after I wrote about her. Who wouldn’t be? In terms of a dream client, a former roadie turned flower farmer who now lives in the middle of Iowa? This is the stuff of stylists’ dreams. Even writing former roadie turned flower farmer living in Iowa sends my brain into autopilot and it starts concocting looks. But, alas, my time with Mrs. Manifold was actually quite short-lived. It didn’t wind up becoming this long drawn-out journey with me figuring out how to curate looks that juxtaposed badass with elegant, or urban leather with rural farmhand. There were no high-end looks accessorized with red lippy and distressed work boots (God, that would have been amazing). None of that ever came to be.
When I met Mrs. Manifold for our first session, I was impressed by her working knowledge of fashion that came from sewing, knitting, and interest. By comparison, her style was…decent. She had recently lost a good amount of weight, was getting used to her body again, and seemed lost in clothes that were too big, a bit frumpy, and generally not her. There was just a disconnect. I wouldn’t say she was frustrated with shopping and buying clothes for herself, but seemed to have more of an apathy about it, like an, “eh” feeling. It would be similar to that friend you might ask if they were experiencing depression. “Eh.” Yet when Mrs. Manifold would speak about fashion in the general sense, she would light up and become quite conversant on the topic. I could tell immediately she had been looking at things, studying what she was attracted to, learning about different styles, and even sharing looks she would imagine she would enjoy wearing. I gave her my feedback on her wardrobe and instead of enlisting more involvement from me, at that point, Mrs. Manifold requested she take some time with my notes and do some work independently.
It had been more than six months since I heard from her and then, out of the blue, she emailed me for a follow-up appointment. She sent over photos for her session and on the morning of our appointment, I opened up the presentation that Rachel, my assistant, prepared and it basically slapped me in the face. Staring back at me was this strong, bold woman with a point of view, presence, and looking exactly like the person I thought I was going to meet our first conversation over the phone. A few hours later we met for our appointment and given her down-to-earth nature, my first words out of my mouth may have been something like, “so, um, what the f*ck?”
As Mrs. Manifold’s and I talked about how her style shifted, she mentioned that she’d been having a lot of fun with her wardrobe. That comment stuck in my mind because she’s not the first client who has told me that before. I have heard it before with other clients and what seemed like the exact same points with other clients. It made me wonder, what exactly happens in those moments that shift the experience of getting dressed from once being difficult, frustrating, and challenging to suddenly being fun, enjoyable, and pleasurable.
I went back and connected the consistencies between each and every client who seemed to turn at that same point and for each one it was the same. It was simply a matter of confidence and self-trust and leaning into that.
The second fashion became fun for Mrs. Manifold was the same moment she decided that she was no longer going to be erased from her style. She leaned in hard, became unapologetic, embraced herself, celebrated it, and trusted it. She bought clothes that aligned with herself authentically, cut up and remade her old clothes into things she liked, and, most importantly, erased the stuff that didn’t belong. She did it without question, without emotion, and because she stood firm without ambiguity.
Are You a Fashion Victim Without Even Realizing It?
I could beat around the bush or I could come right out and say it and, quite frankly, you’re too smart and I’m too tired of sugar-coating it. So I’m just going to rip the Band-Aid off. if you want fashion to be less of a chore, stop being a victim. I’m sure you have heard the term fashion victim before, but I bet you didn’t think you were acting like one. Well, if being a fashion victim is hard to hear, you might need to take a little personal inventory.
Okay, breathe and take a few calming breaths before you x out of this post. Don’t stop reading. If you got a bit perturbed, because nobody wants to hear that they are a victim, keep reading because there is usually some truth in what bothers us most.
Let’s consider victimization for a moment. Victims feel powerless and as if they are without agency to make their own decisions. They tend to second guess themselves, give their power away to others, and can lack inner boundaries, Victims do not feel like they are in control and sometimes don’t even realize they have the power to take control of a situation.
- Often second guess themselves
- Trust other people’s opinions more than their own
- Undervalue their own experiences over the experiences of others
- Avoid speaking up
- Can be controlling
- Tend to be self-critical
- Fail to see their own worth
Now, think about how you approach shopping and getting dressed. Do you question yourself? Do you overthink things about your wardrobe choices? Do you ask everyone for opinions on outfits before trusting your own? Does it take forever to get rid of something from your closet even though it hasn’t seen the light of day in years and, if you’re honest, you don’t even like it that much? Do you wonder about having to give up a trend that might be fading because you still sort of like it? Are you stymied why you have no real sense of your own style despite the fact that you have looked tirelessly for it? Are you stuck in the minutiae of fashion details?
Need I say more?
Now before you start preparing your argument because I know what you are going to say. You’re ready to rattle off how it’s fashion’s fault as to why you’re always riddled with questions. And I want you to stop. Right now. Stop. First of all, you’re basically proving my point by doing this and making yourself a victim, but, secondly, because you are in the pivotal moment, right now, where you can be the person who takes control.
Here are some distinctions:
Everyone knows that fashion needs to get its head out of its ass, but not everyone allows it to make them second guess their decisions.
The person who enjoys fashion, and I mean a healthy enjoyment —not the “I just bought this 75h pair of pumps” sickness pleasure — is the person who gets that the world of fashion has its own work to do but also thinks, “not my pig, not my farm,” and focuses on what they can control. The person who doesn’t enjoy fashion feels powerless against all the things fashion needs to work on.
The person who takes pleasure in fashion sees a trend coming and if they don’t like the trend thinks, “eh, not for me,” and knows something else is out there. The person who struggles with fashion wonders if they have to go out and buy the next new trend and evolve their wardrobe, yet again, to make room for it. Or they complain about it. Victims love to complain, a lot.
The person who found their style found it because they trusted themselves. The person who hasn’t found their style yet wouldn’t trust it even if they did.
The person who enjoys fashion shows up in an outfit. The person who finds fashion challenging asks everyone to weigh on their outfit first and then shows up where they need to be.
The person who finds fashion fun trusts their gut. The person who finds fashion painstaking relies heavily on formulas, the 30 fashion books on their shelf, and directions they get from their well-intentioned shopaholic, blog-reading friend , and maybe their mother as gospel vs. helpful guideposts to reference.
Do you see what I am getting at?
Here’s what I am saying. Fashion is never going to change monumentally enough to ever move the needle in any significant way to cater to your needs. You’re never going to read enough books on the topic nor is that extra inch of fabric on the hem of your pants ever going to solve the mystery of your wardrobe forever and ever until the end of time. If you spend your life thinking that something outside of yourself is going to finally go to click and fix things you’re going to be waiting from now until wearing just a fig leaf comes back in style and, worse, you’re leaving yourself purely at the mercy of a very fickle industry. There is no solution out there that is going to change or fix how difficult and frustrating you find fashion and getting dressed until you change how you approach it.
Living In The Solution vs. Living In The Problem
Does this mean I am trying to put myself out of business? That’s funny. No. Confidence only takes you so far, right? People don’t get into college soley on confidence. Instead, it’s a balance of confidence and self-trust along with proactive problem-solving. Have you ever met someone who lives in the problem? I stay away from those people. They make Debbie Downer seem like she just took a mega dose of Ecstasy. On the other side, you have people who live in the solution. People who live in the solution are always working towards a resolution whenever a problem arises. These are my people. So, when I talk about being confident with your wardrobe, this doesn’t mean you self-isolate like some sort of fashion-Thoreau deep in the woods to go at it alone, never asking for help again. It means you live in the solution which can include asking for help…productively. Living in the solution probably doesn’t mean holding a quorum with your equally unqualified tipsy girlfriends on which blouse to wear to a huge c-suite interview the next day. Living in the solution also does not mean following a 20-year-old on Instagram for fashion tips when you are 45 years old and then complaining about it when the clothes you order at her recommendation don’t fit. These aren’t even in the realm of productive solutions.
So as I close, just know this, and please hear me because there isn’t one woman on the planet who should ever stare into the abyss of her closet again, hemming and hawing over whether she should get rid of a stupid pair of pants with the tags still on them that she doesn’t even like only to be racked with guilt because she never wore them. (Throw that shit out.) Just like no woman should ever wonder whether or not she should wear pants that are becoming trendy that she doesn’t even care for, or whether to tuck or not tuck a shirt. You’re a grown-ass woman and it’s you who drives the car. Now stop whining, tuck your shirt in, or don’t, it’s up to you, and get dressed. You have actual things to do.