One of the primary pieces of advice my grandmother imparted on me...was that one should always leave the house looking the best they can. I realize this might sound a little old-fashioned and possibly even oppressive — I Exist As More Than A Decorative Object, thankyouverymuch — but I took it to heart nonetheless because I know she didn’t mean high heels and rollers, but mostly that looking more with it than you might actually feel sometimes can trick you too.
Dressing (by which I mean putting oneself together, including hair, makeup and clothing) doesn't only influence how you feel about yourself and your situation, as my favorite food blogger points out. Dressing is also one of the most important means at your disposal to influence how others approach you. Nonverbal communication, in general, is understood to be far, far more potent than the words we use. Most people have no problem discussing posture or handshakes as important skills to develop, while many seem uncomfortable tackling the issue of how someone's get-up can affect their interpersonal relationships. Both personally and professionally, it seems shallow to focus on the effect of our outward appearance. Yet that appearance plays a huge role in likability, especially for women, and at the same time there is very little guidance and attention given to helping us make optimal dressing choices (optimal in that they earn you the precise reaction you want!)
Hair stylists have an important role in this area. A lot of women don't have personal shoppers and many spend very little time and attention designing their wardrobes. Every woman, however, gets her hair cut. My business partner describes our staff dress code as simply, "look like you have an opinion," because the most important thing to us is that every stylist in our store is conscious of the statements he or she is making. We dress ourselves to inspire other women to express their true selves more clearly. I literally do dorky things like making mood boards to plan my wardrobe. Collaging with Pinterest boards is a must before I start shopping each season.
There is always, of course, the woman who says, "that's great for you to care about fashion and putting yourself together, but I have other priorities." Name me a priority that couldn't be advanced faster if you looked sharp and got your message across more quickly! Dressing is really a sign of respect and a signal of authority, and it can help put others at ease by conveying that you not only know what you're doing, but you know who you are.
Dressing doesn't have to be about every latest trend and it doesn't have to cost a fortune. I am fairly no-nonsense and classic. I don't like fussy clothing just like I don't like fussy anything else. I only wear trends that flatter my shape and show off my favorite features.
Recently, I moved into a new apartment and downsized from a roomy walk-in to a small hall closet. Partly to save space and partly to save money (unfortunately, my favorite stress relievers are baking tarts and shopping), I downloaded the Stylebook app and used it to organize my wardrobe. Seeing all of my items laid out in photos helped me realize where I had redundancies and holes. I sold or gave away everything I didn't actively look forward to wearing. I basically applied the KonMari decluttering method to my closet. The result is nowhere near a capsule wardrobe of 40 items, but it has reigned me in tremendously. I now only buy new items when I'm willing to give up something old, or when it will massively expand my styling combinations. I have fewer decisions to make each morning, and look more like my true self more of the time.
Another thing that helped me pinpoint my style was when a friend found the perfect celebrity inspiration for me a few years ago - actress Jean Seberg. I prefer to seek inspiration from historic icons, instead of copying what the Kardashians are doing this week. When I have a girl crush from 1960 informing my dressing decisions as I shop and style in 2016, I feel like I'm creating something fresh compared to the women around me. If I go aimlessly into my favorite stores with only modern-day celebrities on my mind, I feel less creative as I make selections. That's just my personal taste creeping in...the point is to find and then exhibit your own. Like all things in life, a little pre-planning and a lot of soul-searching are necessary to mastering this art!
Now please just take a second and admire Miss Seberg with me... <3 <3 <3