Or how not to “stay in your lane”
This blog post isn’t about body type or your colours, not even really your style personality because that got hidden somewhere along the way. Does this resonate with you?
The first thing that gets in our way when many of us start to declutter our wardrobe is never the awful clothes in there. It’s not how terrible we look in what we have. It isn’t even how disappointing it is that the clothes we would like are too expensive or don’t come in our size. What is getting in our way is our mindset. This wins every single time!
Please don’t tell me that everything will be fine when you have lost the weight, got that new job or the kids are older. You deserve more than fine! It is possible to feel and look lovely now, just the way you are and, very often, in the clothes you already have. What tumbles out onto the floor of your bedroom every time you open that closet is a huge pile of feelings and emotion.
Wouldn’t it be amazing to just open the door, smile and feel at ease! This is possible, and you are worth it!
Yesterday, I spent an hour talking to another stylist. We both had the same experience before beginning our businesses and had found a way to turn things around. Leti is based in York, works in a similar way to me. She is fabulous so please check her out if you are closer to York than London.
There was a time when we opened the wardrobe and saw clothes that reflected the women we spent time with. For Leti there were the leggings and square shaped tees that she wore with her Mum friends, the sunny beachwear that she wore on visits back home to Brazil and very little that reflected the life she saw for herself as a young mother in a beautiful city with access to the best secondhand clothes.
It wasn’t that different for me. There were shapeless, definitely not flattering, jeans with baggy tops and that was my school run uniform. These were next to beautiful pieces that came from another time. Some well cut work separates that had dated and did not fit with anything else I owned. Glamorous dresses and evening wear that I had no place to go in. Slightly hippy, flouncy skirts and ethnic pieces that had been staples of my storytelling wardrobe (another time, another career).
Pretty much everything in my wardrobe showed what a chameleon I had become. I dressed to fit in, mostly to hide because it felt safer than being myself. As Leti and I talked we realised that this trait is not unusual, especially when there has been change in our lives.
Any time either of us stepped out of our lane, we would be sharply pulled back with a look or a comment. “Where are you going?” You have to hear the inflection of this question to understand just how not innocent it is.
There has been a transgression of some kind - looking good enough to get attention was not expected. On a good day, these questions could be deflected with a “meeting an old friend for coffee” - that’s ok because different clothes are required to fit in with different groups. The day I found myself lying so that I could wear a dress I loved just to go home and write a report was when I realised this had to stop!
I had been transported back to my grandmother’s parlour and the panic over a handbag. She couldn’t possibly take the snakeskin to Bridge because it was too flashy. This caused havoc as boxes were pulled out, a closet turned upside down looking for the right level of smart and ladylike without appearing “fast”. It was exhausting!
Three women helped me turn this around. I am under no illusions that each had their own demons to battle but the English tyranny of fitting in probably wasn’t one of them. If you looked across the playground at drop off or school picking up time each one stood out as an individual. One tall, very beautiful and always wearing well fitting clothes that showed what a great figure she has. Never to be seen dressed head to toe in M&S, there was always a vintage belt or handcrafted necklace - some little detail that reflected her personality. One my height, a picture of tailored elegance, often with a vintage edge too. Everything she wore had a bespoke feel because she had altered each piece to make it her own. The third, also tall, with a smile that warms a room. This woman of colour wore her natural hair in the midst of a sea of blonde highlights. This was at a time when I was beginning to embrace my own natural grey, beginning a voyage of rediscovery which started with my closet.
If all you do today is open the door to your wardrobe and find three pieces that you know you feel good in. Wear these for yourself today. Enjoy how it makes you feel. Embrace the compliments, there will be some. Accept those comments, even those that would be compliments if the speaker felt better about themselves. If the handbag feels too flashy, it’s ok to wear it with your favourite jeans and a good pair of shoes. Carry that bag with a bit of sass! Maybe that dress was bought for a wedding that got cancelled, invite a friend who likes to dress up to the park, find a bench and crack open a couple of chilled cans of G&T to celebrate getting through lockdown. Now is the time to dress for yourself and save uniforms for those amazing individuals who serve!
When you are ready to tackle that wardrobe please check out my blog posts and do get in touch. I would love to help you find yourself in that closet, she’s in there believe me!
From grey and empty of inspiration to powerful colours, a palette that celebrates your colouring to a wardrobe that brings your joy. It is possible.