The clothing you wear tells the world a little story about who you are at that moment, it may or may not be an accurate story or even anything profound or memorable, but the message is clear. Clothing is
If I wore a green apron over a white polo shirt and khakis, you might think I work at Starbucks or some other corporate food service company. If I wore over-the-knee boots with high-waist denim shorts and a crop top you may have another impression of me altogether. The mind can’t help but try to make sense of it all and create a judgement, not necessarily good or bad, just one that makes sense to the receiver.
Regardless the message, when dressing and choosing what you wear it only has to make sense to you. Common sense would tell us jeans or sweats are okay for grocery shopping. What if you’re meeting someone you wanted to impress? well then your choice of clothing would depend on what image or ideals you want to send out.
This is where you get to create the narrative of you through wardrobe. If you ever get stuck trying to figure out what to wear, there are some strategies you can use for when you want to convey a specific message about yourself.
First understand what this is NOT about:
- name brand clothing
- high-end designer clothing
- ideal body image
What this IS about:
- sense of self
- sense of ideals, goals, values and passions
- sense of well-being
- personal ideals of aesthetics and beauty
Having a sense of self is important as the clearest messages come from a source that is solid and clear in itself. Clothing is the subtle message behind those ideals, just keep in mind that interpretation will vary according to people’s background and culture.
Here’s an example of how this strategy is used:
- My ideals and values include, creativity, independence, health, community and spirit.
- My goals include, making a positive impact, and always learning.
- My sense of well-being comes from family, spirituality, being creative, health conscious, and humor.
Sounds great, huh? but what to wear? what to wear? Okay now consider the occasion, time of day, and people you will be interacting with, for example: I’m going to an evening cocktail networking event and there will be a mix of creatives and administrators.
This is where I look to personal ideals of aesthetics and beauty to translate the inside out, such as art, films, music, people, fashion, etc… anything that visually inspires me. To make it simple, I usually pick one aesthetic ideal that is best for the occasion. One of my favorite fashion eras is the mid to late 60’s where
My outfit for the evening then would be a simpleblack dress (a 60’s silhouette) with a bold modern style necklace with hair in a high bun (a’la Hepburn).
Another option can be a black blazer and slim pants (60’s silhouette and style) with bold earrings.
Another option can be a colorful paisley (60’s print style) maxi-dress with no jewelry, or natural stone jewelry like turquoise (late 60’s hippie).
or I can go straight up vintage and wear an authentic cocktail dress from the mid-60’s
There’s many ways to go with this, and you can use this strategy with any occasion from job hunting to holiday party. Of course have fun with it and the minute you start to get overwhelmed or are over thinking it, just step back and visualize yourself in your favorite outfit regardless of what occasion its for. If it’s pajama pants you love, that can be easily translated into palazzo pants or wide leg trousers for evening events. More than likely you already have items you love in your closet.
This is not necessarily an everyday strategy, but one that will work to your benefit in controlling the message you send out to others. It’s not what you wear but what you want to say. It’s important that the ideals behind the message are clear and ring true to yourself first, so your outward appearance can reflect your inner ideals, then sending a consistent message. Have you ever deliberately dressed a certain way to send out a message of how you wanted to be perceived?