Style Theory: Getting Dressed is More Difficult When Your Don't Know Yourself

Style Theory: Getting Dressed is More Difficult When Your Don't Know Yourself

Credits: Photo - Anonymous, Styling - Sarah G. Schmidt, Location - Parkdale, Calgary


In my youth I was all about experimenting. I wanted to try things for myself. I thought nearly any (safe) experience was worth trying, as I was sure I would learn something about me from it, good or bad. Now that I am firmly in my thirties, I feel the urge to simplify. Filter, filter, filter.

For the most part I feel like I can catch myself before I deep dive into trend fuelled things I don’t really care about: be it cars, food, and to a certain extent, some clothes. Though it’s a continuous process, I know myself well enough that I know more about what matters and what doesn’t. I’ve definitely caught the 80/20-Marie Kondo-choose your life craze. Some trends are personally beneficial.

The tricky part is we gluttonous North Americans have the luxury of trying before we filter. We max ourselves out before we pull back. Part of the reason is I think we need to go too far in a certain area, reflect, and then come to the conclusion that not everything is for us. We have to learn for ourselves. I feel like this is especially true for my millennial counterparts. It’s a double-edged sword: we were brought up with the ideology that we could do anything. Seriously, anything!  

Anything is a lot. How does one choose?

If you take that notion to dressing yourself, it can be daunting. It’s no wonder one of the most common things I hear clients and people say to me is that they have closets full of clothes, yet nothing to wear.

Though it’s not the same experience as working one-on-one with a person, I hope to share a few things that may help you get on your way. Simply put: If you don’t know who you are, what you want to say with your clothes, it’s going to be hard to get dressed without stress. I mean it. It’s similar to writing a story or debating a point: if you don’t know what a personal win looks like, it’s dang tricky to get there.

I wish I had a penny every time I heard one of these you’re-making-it-too-complicated-when-it-doesn’t-have-to-be statements:

Statement: “Oh I don’t have anywhere to wear that fancy thing.”

Response: Who needs the Oscars. Be the lead lady/man/person in your own life. Dress up once in a while. If you love it and it’s in your closet already, wear it. Even on a Tuesday at the grocery store. Do you.

Statement: “I wish I could wear the same few things over and over and get rid of everything else.”

Response: I’ve got awesome news for you: you can. There are no hard and fast rules for the contents of a wardrobe other than it needs to fit, flatter, and make you feel good. Say hello to a uniform wardrobe, my little friend. It’s economical too.

Statement: “I want to look put together, polished, and classic”

Response: Go ahead and get polished. Take off those sweats and mountain gear and put on something with structure. Limp t shirts, wrinkled jeans, and leggings do not say classic. They say leisure.

Statement: “I love that colour but it doesn’t look good on me.”

Response: That may be true - and it’s true that not every colour looks good on one person - but there are shades within that same colour family that do. Stop whining and move on to another shade or hue. There’s a hundred (million) shades of yellow, you know?

Statement: “That style is super on other people but not me.”

Response: If that is indeed true, that’s okay. Not everything is for you. The silver lining is there are at least a few things that are. Personal style is a buffet, not a set menu. 

Statement: “I don’t want to look like everyone else.”

Response: Then get off social media, stop asking your basic friends for fashion advice, and really consider what that looks like for you. And it’s not what the models are wearing. If you’re unsure of how to start, call me. This is a top notch favourite project of mine.

Statement: “I don’t have money to dress well.”

Response: I call BS. There’s consignment. There is second hand. There’s swapping. And, of course, there’s good old fashioned saving. If you would stop shopping for six months and save, I can almost guarantee that I could help you spend that money wiser than if you were left to your own devices. Challenge accepted? If you’re really serious about investing in your style, look at your spending habits. Perhaps cut that coffee, cut that brunch, drive less, whatever it takes, you can do it. Stay away from the trap of buying a nothing $10 thing here and a forgettable $20 thing there because you’re in danger, gurl. Use your money wisely.

While it may not be easy to dig deep and face yourself, it is, indeed simple. At the very least, to get you going ask yourself a few, key questions:

Who do I dress for? If not yourself, why not?

What do I want to say with my clothes?

How do I want to feel when I wear them?

What things do I have that fit that or contradict that? 

After you have purged and sold your clothing that isn’t working, ask yourself: am I only purchasing things that get me to my style goal?

Simple. Not easy.

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