We all know to ‘dress for the job you want’. As a corporate woman in my late thirties, that was the extent of my foray into fashion.
I considered it something to pay attention to in moderation. Too much into fashion was frivolous, distracting, and I assumed it would take time away from my already precarious work life balance. At the same time, I had never felt 100% confident in my clothes. I felt overdressed during regular office hour, under or over dressed in big presentation or public speaking, and had not updated my weekend wardrobe since the my twenties. I blamed this feelings on impostor syndrome, or body image issues, and worked on better nutrition, leadership coaching, and positive affirmations.
A couple of months ago thou, I found myself having free time for the first time in over a decade, and I resolved learn and experience everything I always wanted and never had time for. Through my network, I met a style consultant, who offered color and body archetype consultations.
I was intrigued by the science behind it, and I had been dreaming of having a make over since I first saw Clueless, so I tried. What I was not expecting was how truly transformational the experience would be, and what impact it had on my own mental health and inner balance.
I found my self confidence. Knowing what fits me and enhances my natural shape and coloring is an automatic self confidence boost. I don’t second guess myself, nor unconsciously compare myself to fashion magazines. Knowledge is power, and I know understand why certain styles will never be for me.
I learned positive, fact based language. I stop thinking about myself in negative terms. Suddenly there are no more “problem areas to disguise”. No more being in our out of shape. I simply have a certain body archetype. It’s a fact. I know what words to use to refer to what works and most importantly, why I need to avoid certain styles. And it’s not negative nor subjective terms.
Goodbye impostor syndrome. Miuccia Prada said that fashion is an instant language. And I can see it in action. Knowing what to wear depending on the message I want to portray, has been a game changer. I know what color and shape make me blend in the background, what to wear to draw attention to my face and look ‘everyday’ competent and in control (both in my corporate role and in my ‘mom at the park’ role) and what works as an eye catcher for big presentation. Knowing that what I wear support what I want to stand for, quiets my inner impostor voice.
My mental load is reduced. I used to think that more color and different shape would mean more choices, and nothing scared me more than choices before my morning coffee. In reality I think about what to wear and what to buy a lot less. I have a color pallet I can chose from, I worked out the right combinations and contrasts for me, and I carry it around whenever I shop. If it isn’t on the pallet, it stays on the shelf. The same for shapes, patterns and fits. I can wear a variety of items (not all black blue and gray) without thinking.
Three weeks into this journey, and I feel that learning about my color and style, is what made the message of the positive affirmation and leadership training ‘click’, boosting my mental health. For me, fashion is not frivolous, thou it is fun.