But, Where do I Even Start?
I hear it a lot by overwhelmed clients…where do I even start?!? “I want to feel put together and like my style has evolved over time but I don’t even know where to begin.” The truth is, you probably have a lot in your closet that you would be able to style in ways that look modern while making you feel comfortable but not stuck. It’s a matter of looking at your closet and current shopping habits with a critical and realistic eye. Websites, magazines, social media…they all love the top lists of items. These types of articles are as old as magazine publishing. With this structure, most publications give you a very specific item list (The Only 10 Things You Need in Your Closet or The 8 Things Every French Girl Owns). I love seeing the latest and greatest but the problem with these lists is that they are SO specific that it can still be very overwhelming because they don’t encourage people to develop their own style or confidence is choosing what to wear. So, with that in mind, here are my top seven tips for building a closet and outfits that make you happy and confident in your own skin so you can put your best foot forward each day.
Never, and I cannot emphasize this enough, wear something you aren’t comfortable wearing. Just because a sales person, family member, or even I tell you something looks amazing on you, if you don’t feel your best in it, don’t wear it.
Start with the shoes. I choose shoes based on the weather and schedule of the day and then build the rest of the outfit around them. As much as I love (and will wear most any time) over-the-top, I do have a few shreds of practicality in me and they are usually centered around footwear.
Don’t keep clothes in your closet that you don’t wear. We keep clothes we don’t wear for a lot of reasons, some of the more common ones I see being: fit, thinking we will get back to that smaller or larger size one day; emotional attachment (or baggage); and guilt for buying something and not wearing it. There is nothing worse than being confronted by clothes you don’t wear each day, especially at the beginning of the day. At best, sifting through clothes we know we won’t wear wastes precious morning time; at worst, it completely overwhelms us and gives us a negative slew of emotions to overcome first thing in the morning. Our physical spaces both affect and reflect our mental space and when we only hold on to items we wear, our entire mentality and outlook changes — we feel lighter and less burdened. Find a local charity shop where proceeds go to a cause that you support, or resell the clothes to build your budget for items that better align with your style goals.
You do you. I recently came across a social media post by someone who said she felt really awkward in heels and questioned the societal viewpoint that heels equate sexy and beautiful. (For the record, beauty is absolutely not tied to anything physical.) This is something I see a lot — the expectation associated with a certain item of clothing and feeling like we don’t live up to that. Confidence is the ultimate beauty and if you’re comfortable, you will be confident. It is SO hard — so, so hard — to see people wearing things they clearly aren’t comfortable in because they feel like they have to be wearing them. [On this specific note, there are plenty of shoes out there that aren’t heels and will give anyone a pep in her step. If you’re looking for a sleek alternative you can’t go wrong with a pointed-toe flat, or a flat or booties in a fun color (hello, red!) or pattern (I don’t think I’ll ever disclose just how much leopard print I own).]
Focus on fit. You will always look modern if your clothes fit you properly. This is a tall order: I currently have several online orders on their way, most of which have two sizes of everything in them to see which ones will work. Look for length and rise in pants; shoulder seems and sleeve length in fitted tops and jackets; and length and proportions of sweaters and coats. I cannot recommend a tailor enough. If the store of purchase doesn’t have one on site, take it to a tailor before removing tags to see what can be done to optimize fit. Remember, clothing retailers mass produce products to fit average measurements; this greatly dilutes fit for most people and is absolutely not a reflection on you or your body or your worth. I always tell clients let’s not try to change our bodies to fit the clothes, we can change clothes to fit our bodies. The reality is, no matter your size, it is hard to find clothes that fit properly.
Buy the best quality you can afford. The higher the quality, the longer an item will last for you, and the bigger bang for your buck (and the environment). Look for details such as lining in pants, skirts and dresses; patterns matching up directionally around seams; and high quality fabrics and finishes. Also, read and follow laundering instructions carefully. The more you follow recommended care, the longer items will last.
Prioritize comfort. For some clothing items, it can take a lot of time to find comfortable versions. And as many shoes as I own, I can say every pair is comfortable for me to wear. It took me time, a lot of time, to find most of these shoes because I absolutely refuse to buy anything I can’t wear all day. For me, this means 3 inch max height, flats that don’t rub into my heel, and mules that don’t slide off when I walk in them. It even took me years to find athletic shoes that work well for me.
My general life philosophy is to keep your standards high and expectations low, and this can easily apply to items in our closets. We know that clothes are mass produced based on average measurements. I don’t expect to be able to find a pair of jeans that fits perfectly the first try and that’s okay. Because my expectations are lowered, I will stick to my high standard of only investing in items that fit well or can be tailored to fit well. My hope in providing you with these guidelines is that you see once you apply these to your own closet and purchasing habits, you can start putting your best, most confident, gorgeous foot forward.
Above image by Geangela Gonçalo Ge from Pixabay.