What Your Wardrobe Says About You

No one knows the internal dialogue we have about our bodies except us. Some argue, though, that we give others a peak into how we feel by how we dress. What does your wardrobe say about you? If you consider what you wore in the last seven days, what would people think about you? If you saw you at the store, what would you think? I know, I know, I know, how you look doesn’t define you, and others’ perceptions about you don’t matter as much as your own. But, what if you are giving a false impression? The mission of today’s article is to help you reflect on what your wardrobe says about you, how you feel best about yourself, and to help bridge the gap in any contradictions. Let’s go, girls!

How much of an effort – How you dress and present yourself every day illustrates how much of an effort you made. If you wear an outfit and purposely-coordinated accessories, it shows that you considered what to wear and chose to look polished or put together. If you put on makeup and styled your hair, this also illustrates that you devoted extra time. Some people pick out their clothes the night before or plan a week in advance. Purposely choosing ahead of time or carefully picking that morning both illustrate that you care about what you wear. Making an effort doesn’t necessarily equal a chunk of time. It literally takes time, but it doesn’t have to be a ton. 

Rather, your dress reflects the level of priority you prescribe to how you physically present yourself. If you have three minutes to pick out your clothes in the morning and you choose monochromatic colors or something ill-fitting versus a coordinated outfit, what does it say about you? What do you internally accept as the message of how you present yourself?

How you present yourself might give a false impression – Let’s refer to the previous examples. If you see two people at work and one is wearing clothes that aren’t ironed or are super baggy and the other has fitted pants, a trendy shirt, and hair styled, what is your impression? You might think that one values appearance more, or the other doesn’t care about how she looks. Your honor, may I have leeway? Hold tight, I know these are assumptions.

Consider another situation. If you see two women at Target, and one is dressed in jeans, heels, and a flowy top and the other wears flip flops, a bulky sweatshirt, and messy bun, what would you assume about them? Here’s the thing – Maybe the woman with a messy bun has a baby at home and is trying to squeeze in errands while she can, maybe she’s cleaning the house that day and ran out to get more supplies, or maybe she dresses down on weekend days, but watch out! Late that night, she might dress to kill for a date. Or maybe still, the woman with the messy bun doesn’t define herself by how she dresses. Maybe the woman in the heels doesn’t either, but she enjoys dressing like that. We can’t assume anything, but it’s worth reflecting on our own practices. 

My Irish grandfather, whose birthday was on St. Patrick’s Day, would often say that people should wear clothes that fit them, regardless of their size. Today, as I type this, I believe in that, too, but for the longest time, I would hide my body in boring, bulky sweaters, thinking they would hide my size. I was overweight most of my life and would sit on the couch with a pillow in my lap to cover my stomach and wear long tops that would fall past my waist. Does this sound familiar? In my case, how I dressed indeed reflected how I felt about myself: I was ashamed and embarrassed about my size and attempted to “hide” it with bigger-than-necessary clothes.

Today, though, I love my body. I can point to things I would change about it, but I would never say I hate it. I used to ruminate in self-loathing, but now just the idea that I would hate my body makes me sad. My body belongs to me. It’s on my side. I’m proud and confident in who I’ve become, and my body is part of that. The way I dress now reflects that, too. I wear fitted skirts and tops, dresses, and high heels. I do my makeup for work every day (ok, not always my hair) because when I feel like I look good, I feel better. When I feel better, I have a happier disposition. It becomes a cycle. I don’t “hide” myself anymore. I’m fine just the way I am.

The question, then, is what impression do you want to make and why? I encourage people to not care about other peoples’ opinions. There is a difference, though, between not caring about other peoples’ opinions and valuing how you present yourself. You might want to make a positive impression for yourself. See the difference? In one case, the motivation is external – you want to impress others or give them a certain feeling about you. The other situation is outwardly motivated – you want to make a positive impression because you respect yourself and feel more confident when you dress a particular way. Consider again how you want to represent yourself and why.

How do you feel best? The most important piece of the wardrobe puzzle is what makes you feel best, which will be different for everyone. There are days that I’m that woman wearing boring clothes, no makeup, and a messy bun at Target, and I’m at peace with that. I don’t feel like I have to prove myself to anyone, and I don’t feel poorly about myself by dressing that way. There are days, though, that I wear high heels (Carrie Bradshaw forever), straighten my hair, and slap on red lipstick and feel like a diva. I respect myself and am confident in either situation. 

What about you? What makes you feel the best about yourself? Do you feel confident rocking a certain pair of jeans? Heels? Your new sneakers? What matters most is how you feel about yourself because we know, regardless, people will have opinions. Like I mentioned, I enjoy wearing high heels and skirts. People assume sometimes that I splurge and devote a considerable amount to my wardrobe. A: It’s ok if I do that if I can afford it, but also B: I don’t overspend. I shop at Kohl’s, JC Penney, and New York and Company. And we can’t forget the beloved Target. But people sometimes cast judgment when they see heels, makeup, and skirts. 

My husband and I celebrated our ten-year wedding anniversary this year, but we’ve been together for 15. At one of the early holiday dinners, I will never forget someone saying to me, “It must be nice to spend so much money on shoes.” Um, I was wearing heels from the clearance rack at DSW. (Queue gongs and halos for the DSW clearance section) Again, it’s ok if I did spend an exorbitant amount of money, but I didn’t. People will assume and make judgments anyway. You can’t win if you are relying on others for your self-esteem. You need to dress in a way that makes you feel good.

Let’s be honest with ourselves, though, friend. We all have stretches of days, months, or even years when we don’t make an effort, which, again, will look different for each person. But, we also have a “line” we won’t cross. We will allow ourselves to skate around it, but we have a bottom-of-the-barrel level of appearance that we won’t allow ourselves to cross. Sometimes we go to work without washing our hair (#dryshampoo) or even showering. We tell ourselves it’s because we’re rushed or tired, but really, we’re not presenting ourselves in a way that makes us proud or confident. If that resonates, then take some time to reflect. If you are choosing a path that doesn’t serve you, then why are you doing it? Either way, it’s a choice. 

Bottom line: You do you, but be aware of your motivation and meaning to you. Don’t go through life without purpose. There will always be people who judge us. As women, we should be lifting each other up, but it’s easy to join the crowd and belittle because we feel bad about ourselves. Don’t be that woman. Be you. 

Please comment below or email me about what you think your wardrobe says about you? What resonated in today’s article? Share it with me!

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