I've been told I have a childlike curiosity about the world. I spot something interesting, a leaf with its edges sparkling from frost, a leggy bug sitting on a window ledge, how that striped skirt looks next to that floral jacket, and I am immediately immersed. I stop and observe, wondering things like, if I touch the frost will it feel like sugar? What purpose do all those legs have for the bug? What would happen if I wore that skirt as a top under that jacket and put on a cool necklace?
In the book Playing Big, Tara Mohr states "It’s impossible for pure curiosity and fear to coexist in any moment; we can only be in one state or the other." Curiosity has the power to move us out of fear. I find that many people will say they are not fashionable or interested in fashion or how they look, when what they really are is afraid of making a mistake and being judged.
I see your fear and I get it. I truly do. There is a huge amount of bravery needed to put something on that you are not sure will be considered "acceptable” by whomever in your world has deemed themselves the "fashion police." And we all have at least one in our life (reality check…it might even be YOU! Maybe I will address that in a separate blog). Not to mention the fact that fashion trends change every 3 months. Good grief, it makes the simple act of putting clothes on mildly terrifying. Yoga pants and a hoodie makes things much less complicated and less scary.
A lot of people assume that I, as a stylist, am one of those self-appointed officers passing judgement on the fashion unfortunate. I am the opposite of that. I look at what someone is wearing and get curious. I wonder what inspired them to wear what they are wearing? I think, what would I put them in if I had the chance?
If I know them, I look to see what they are saying with their clothes. Like, normally Sue wears fun patterns, but she is wearing a grey suit and a white shirt. Hmmm, did she get a new job? Is she sad? Rob's jacket is rumpled. That is not like him at all. He is normally super put together and crisp I wonder what is going on.
Like it or now our clothing communicates and that is scary. But what if you took that fear and got curious about how you can purposefully communicate through your clothing?
I find my innate curiosity helps to remove the fear of making a fashion faux pas, by distracting me with the what if. What if I wore that sparkly sequin skirt with a looser casual top and some flats? Once the curiosity is peaked, the experimental stage is jump started and I put the "what if" outfit on to see if it works. Many times, it is a hit, but other times it is a miss. Undeterred my curiosity says, ok, well that top looks like a sack, I think I would like to see something a bit more fitted? Or maybe just a belt or cropped jacket? And here is the thing, if I don't end up finding a solution, I'm happy with, I wear something else; but I've pushed my brain to see things a bit differently for a bit. Maybe next time, something else will catch my eye and I will try it with that skirt, and it will work perfectly for me in that moment.
Being aware of your fear, curiosity or whatever you are feeling is the basis of what I call Conscious Dressing. Being conscious (i.e. aware) of why you are doing what you do gives you the ability to control what you communicate. It allows you to use your clothes as a tool. You get to decide what you are saying, fashion police be damned!
"We must not allow other people's limited perceptions to define us." Virginia Satir.
So, the next time you are getting dressed, see if you can push that fear aside and get curious!