I’m writing this post with the assumption that you’ve done the homework from the prior post. You know, that Pinterest assignment. Hopefully you’ve gone over your board a couple of times and really refined the colors, pieces and feel of your board. If you aren’t 100% certain about it yet that’s okay. What’s important is that you’ve started.
Before you read the rest of this post, please take a look at these three Pinterest boards that I’ve put together for you all. You should notice a distinct feel in each of the boards.
Now, without judgement and without any negative thoughts, come up with three or four different adjectives for each board.
For me, board one would be described as free, nomadic, airy and exotic. Board two would be tough, street smart, rebellious and strong. Board three is feminine, sweet, colorful and elegant.
None of the styles reflected in these boards is better than any of the others.
The point of this exercise is that, for better or worse, you make decisions about people based on what you see them wearing.
You don’t know any of those people in those pictures but you’ve assigned them personalities based on the clothing you saw them wearing. This is why I told you to not be negative or judgmental.
Everyone does this all day, every day. It’s why clothing exists. It’s why we don’t all wear brown paper bags for shirts and black trash bags for skirts.
(As a side note here, I’d like to advise you to avoid building yourself up by judging people as you walk past them on the street. It makes you a shallow person, you’re building yourself up on shaky scaffolding and it makes you feel as if everyone walking past you is also judging you.)
Moral of the story here is that the clothes you wear are usually the only thing that most people can use to figure out who you are in the two minutes that you might interact with them.
It’s the ultimate, silent, elevator speech. An elevator speech is a quick talk you can give someone when you have two minutes with them on an elevator. It is who you are, what you do and how you feel about yourself all in one picture.
So who are you?
This one took me a long time to figure out. A lot of the issue I had was because of my childhood. I was raised in a very conservative household and didn’t even start wearing pants until I was 26. I was raised to be very modest (skirts below the knee, no low necklines and heaven forbid you wear a tank top) and to make sure that everyone around me was happy with what I wore. If I stepped out of line I was judged harshly and gossiped about by my ‘friends’. Yes. It was the nightmare you think it is. There were other issues with the churches I attended that prevented me from developing a personality and any time I exhibited any traits that were contrary to what I should believe I was forcibly pushed back in line.
Then a bunch of crap happened and I left it all behind.
All of this left me in the odd position of choosing who I wanted to be while in my late twenties. So I sat down one day and just started designing myself. Here’s what I chose:
It started as a longer list and then I tightened it up by taking out the extra stuff until everything fit under these four descriptors.
There are a lot of things I can do in my life to develop these traits but I also want my wardrobe to reflect them. Here is what I chose.
Some of you might be like, “Liz. C’mon. Those clothes don’t reflect ANY of those traits that you chose.” Well, that’s because you and I aren’t the same people and maybe your idea of adventurous/capable/trustworthy involves more pant suits or more of the color purple or something. I grew up in the west and I consider myself a mountain girl. I lived in Mexico for four years. I’ve travelled to nine different countries. I work as a police dispatcher. The colors, natural touches and relaxed styling of my wardrobe reflects that. To be capable means that you’re able to survive in the middle of nowhere. To be trustworthy is to be one of the ones who do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. To be smart is to be able to take care of yourself. To be adventurous is more Indiana Jones than Die Hard. If you grew up in inner city New York and the furthest away from home you’ve ever been is New Jersey, of course you’re going to have a different concept of adventurous/capable/trustworthy than I do. My wardrobe reflects my background which means it reflects who I am and who I want to be.
I don’t know you. I don’t know what sort of crap you’ve been through. I don’t know how you grew up. I don’t know where you live, what you believe, who you love, how you feel when you go to sleep at night. That’s all something you know about yourself.
And if you have learned anything from this blog, you should already know that you shouldn’t be dressing to make other people happy.
(Disclaimer: Unless you have a partner. There are appropriate times to dress for someone else. (; Y’know?)
Yes. It is completely possible to reinvent yourself with your wardrobe. It is completely possible to lie to people with your wardrobe. Both of these things happen all the time. You can have two separate wardrobes and choose how you want to present yourself to the world on any given day. Heck, you can have an outfit for every mood.
So who are you? How do you want to present yourself to the world?
- Take some time to write out how you want people to see you. Do you want to be sophisticated and elegant? Or perhaps tough and sexy? Maybe mysterious and aloof. You could be bold and fun. Or any mixture of all of these things.
- Go back to your Pinterest board and figure out if/how the clothing you chose matches up to your descriptors. If you want to be seen as sophisticated and elegant, wearing raggedy short shorts and a bikini top might be sending a mixed message. Remember, you can choose to be seen as anything you want, so don’t lie to yourself. If you want to wear raggedy short shorts and a bikini top, own it.
- Update your Pinterest board to reflect the new descriptors. You might be realizing that you have two or three distinctive styles. Go ahead and diversify by making different boards for each of them. Refine them carefully so that you can pull definite elements out of each of them.