Messing with your Image

Posted by Jill Chivers in Attitudes and Habits, Fashion, Style and Shopping, Shopping, Clothes and Emotions

Welcome to another blog post in our 2011 series!  I am doing the 30 Day “Trust” Challenge which is a month-long writing/reflection challenge.  The trust bit is self-referential – it’s about trusting yourself.

Every day, we receive a new prompt.  It’s a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson followed by a question to write and reflect on.  Most days I read, I reflect, I may write (and I may not). I file the prompt away (that tidy gene is very hard to overcome).  And I get on with my day.

Not the day that this prompt arrived.  The post is called “Image”   and in it the author, Matthew Stillman encourages us to muss up our hair, smudge our make up and put on clothes that don’t fit and don’t match.  WHAT?  Is he kidding with that?

I mean I could maybe live with the mussed up hair – maybe.  But the ill-fitting clothes and non-matching outfits – nah-ah.  The house would need to be on fire before I’d leave it dressed that way.  Not even celebs (just out of rehab or otherwise) can get away with that look.

Then I stopped and thought about it for a moment longer.  Isn’t conscious choices what I’m all about?  I believe in the power of clothing to not only express, but to inform something important and meaningful about who we are.  That’s why clothing can be used, as one tool among many, to help you feel good about yourself on a more consistent basis.

Let me say more about that for a moment. If the only thing you feel about the items in your wardrobe is that you look and feel great about them, then you have a better chance of feeling good about yourself, on one level, every day.  And since we know that there is an endless feedback loop between how we look and how we feel, why wouldn’t we set ourselves up to succeed by using clothing consciously?  By deliberately choosing our look for the day?

This approach is in direct contrast to how many women feel about their closet contents.  Which is some version of “look at all this stuff – why do I feel I have nothing to wear?!  Everything either looks bad, fits bad, doesn’t coordinate, is too dressy/casual, takes too much effort to make it work, isn’t “me” anymore – how come I have a closet full of stuff I hate?!”

When you feel that way about your clothing, it’s easy to see how much more difficult it is to feel good about yourself on a consistent basis.  There’s so much energy going into getting dressed for the day.  Energy that you could have spent in better ways – on people and things that you choose to spend it on. You’ve spent a precious portion of your daily energy quota just getting out the bedroom.

So, I believe all that about the power of clothing to impact and inform how we feel about ourselves.  And I also believe in conscious choices.  So why would it bother me that someone might consciously choose to muss their hair and wear an uncoordinated ensemble?  Riddle me that!

And here was the insight that came and rested upon my shoulder:  My assumption has been that only a person in the grip of unconsciousness would dress badly.  There would be no mindfulness about it – no deliberate decision to mess with their image that way.  Because if they were awake and aware, they’d make a different choice.

But what if that assumption was wrong?

When we look to the world of extreme fashion and those who create and display it (I’m think of the Gaultier‘s and GaGa’s of the world here), there is a deliberateness about it.  It’s designed to provoke.  You don’t stage the kinds of exhibitions that those people do without some awareness of what you’re about.

I’m still pondering what Stillman says, and I’m taking a leaf out of my friend Tammy’s book and am not trying or pretending to have all the answers.  The question is enough for now and I’m sure intrigued.  I’m intrigued by this idea of conscious choices and uncoordinated outfits (well, that’s what’s on the surface – the tendrils dip deep into the water).

And no, I haven’t yet left the house in a deliberately uncoordinated ensemble.



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