Before you go out and spend on new clothes, take a very careful and critical look at the inside of your wardrobe. Think about what your clothes do for you. In particular, how does looking at them make you feel? For which situations do you have clothes that make you feel confident? What situations are not so well covered? Is this because there are gaps – or because what you’ve got isn’t right for you?
Which individual items make you feel good? Why do you think this is the case? What does that say about your personal style? Which ones make you feel a bit anxious and why? Is it the colour, the fit, or just that it’s not you? Do you think you are too fat, too thin, too short or tall for it?
All of this will give you great information as you continue to build your style.
If there are clothes in your wardrobe that you really don’t want to wear again, seriously consider giving them away, selling them on ebay or just chucking them out. Even if it is only one item, there is no point in keeping it. As you develop your style, it will just sit there reminding you of previous insecurities. The first time you do this, it may turn into something of a clear out (see this post for more details on how to approach it); but as you assess your wardrobe more regularly there will be fewer pieces that stick out and feel wrong.
Your goal is to get to a point where you look in your wardrobe and see only things that make you feel confident and happy. Adopting my Capsule Wardobe approach is the best way I know to achieve this, so if you’d like to know more, take a look at the Re-introducing the Capsule Wardrobe I did last year. (The first article is here and you can browse the rest by clicking on the Capsule Wardrobe category in the right hand column.)
Next time: why you should start with modern classics
Excuse #1: I couldn’t spend the money
Each week, I’m seeking to address an excuse that sits on our shoulders like a demon making developing a confident personal style harder than it should be. Do let me have your ‘excuses’ and I’ll have a go at debunking them for you. Here’s the first:
You feel guilty about spending money on yourself. Conditioning leads you to expect others to be dependent on you. You spend money on what are considered to be the necessities – food, clothes for the kids, cars, holidays abroad and school fees. If you spend money on yourself, it’s best if it’s a bargain.
I’m always impressed that when you compliment a continental women on her outfit, she says ‘thank you’; a British woman will tell you how cheap hers is or how she’s had it for 10 years. British women are delighted to tell others the cost of a garment if they bought it in a sale, but keep very quiet if they spent a lot of money on it. It’s a very British thing. On the continent, women are more likely to feel guilty if they do not buy good clothes or have a regular manicure.
The truth is that by investing in your appearance you are investing in your professional future and, with any luck, enjoying yourself too. Your financial success and rewards are going to come from your career, and developing a confident personal style will make you look and feel successful and give others confidence in you. Never see it as an extravagance. It’s actually a necessity.