I once worked with a branding client who had a closet full of clothes fit for a hooker. Purple animal prints, a sequin skirt (with the price tag still on it,) lacey, itty-bitty things. Yet, she told me that her ideal outfit was a crisp white shirt, straight-legged jeans and a single strand of pearls.
“I could wear that everyday,” she pined. “You know, Jackie O with a twist.” Uh… huh.
So I raised my eyebrows and held up a red leather vest. “Yeah… not very Jackie.” She admitted. “So what’s going through your mind when you’re shopping?” I asked. “Really put yourself in the scene. You’re standing at the clothing rack and the day-glo leopard print says exactly what to you?” Her eyes widened. “It says to me: ‘Your mother would hate this. Buy it!’” she blurted out.
Et voila! Mystery solved.
As it turned out, when she was growing up her mother dictated what was proper and not-so proper to wear. And even though she was now a grown up in her own big house with her own big job, her fashion decisions were based on little unconscious ways to rebel against her conservative mommy.
THE POWER OF PREFERENCES
Our preferences define us, yet we rarely think twice about why we’re actually attracted to something. “I like it, I want it, I need it, I gotta have it.” But, why?
Our personal fashion choices are often the most unexamined parts of our lives.
Let’s have a minute with The Style Shrink… So tell me:
Why do you buy what you buy? Do a mental scan of your wardrobe. Think of the your most recent purchases, or your most-worn pieces, or the regrettables collecting dust in your closet. What motivated those choices? Were you feeling… elation? Rebellion? The deep craving to belong? The drive to appear powerful? Sentimental for the past? Sweet, sensual inklings? At one with the style gods?
Who do you take shopping with you? Not literally, but, psychically. Do you have your own what-not-to-wear committee on your shoulder? Are your inner style advisers jeering at you or cheering you on?
Do your clothes feel like friends or foe? Do you have to psyche yourself up to get into that navy suit that sucks the innovative thinking right out of you? Or do you look at that linen tunic and think, “Ahh, old friend, we work so well together?”
Every choice is an expression of what we believe. On a daily basis, we make material and aesthetic choices that tell our story. Bold. Understated. Glam. Earthy. We are constantly showing the world who we are—or who we think we are. And the world responds accordingly.
When you know the motivation behind your choices, you can make choices that support your authentic self—decisions that free you, rather than restrict you.
When it comes to genuine style, one size does not fit all.