Ten years ago, a close friend asked me for my help revamping her wardrobe. As we proceeded to do an inventory and declutter of her wardrobe, I noticed a pattern. Her wardrobe consisted of numerous pears of jeans, a pile of t-shirts, a pair of running shoes, dock martins and some not so feminine sandals. She had been dressing this way since she was a teenager and she was now in her thirties. I could tell she was stuck in style purgatory.
Being stylish does not mean you have to be style obsessed . You don’t have to know every designer, watch runway shows, follow every trend and buy expensive designer or brand names. And, you don’t have to sit at a beauticians for hours to be stylish.
As a Style Coach ( TM) , I help people take a healthy pride in their appearance. I show people how to look after and nurture themselves physically on the outside, emotionally on the inside and promote a balanced life .
So, you do not have to be on the cusp of every fashion trend and you don’t want to be stuck in style purgatory either. It is important for our style to evolve, just like we do . Our bodies change, our personalities change, our preferences change, our lifestyle changes and fashion changes. Wen we get stuck in a style purgatory , this is often an indication that we are stuck in our way of thinking .
There are many ways your wardrobe can be caught in limbo. Perhaps your wardrobe is all about comfort:
Your clothes are predictable and safe;
You wear the same outfits over and over again;
Your wardrobe is all one colour;
You have 1 - 2 styles of clothes: and or
You have repeat buying habits; you love the top so you buy 5 in the same colour
When you dress for comfort your clothes say nothing about who you are other than perhaps you have given up. Most likely you are busy and confused about how to dress your body.
Some women are caught in the “memory lane” rut. Do you look like you just stepped out of a time machine from a former fashion decade? For some, it becomes difficult to move on emotionally form a certain stage of their lives.
Dr. Jennifer Baumgartner, author of “ You Are What You Wear ”, views this as form of arrested development. She states you may be stuck in a certain period of your life because it was the worst time in your life and you are trying to undo it, or it was the highest point of your life and you are unwilling to give it up.
Along the same lines, style purgatory is evident when we dress too young. This is often due to a fear of aging. Here are some signs indicating you might be dressing too young for your age:
You are shopping in the junior section of the store;
You are wearing your teenage daughter’s clothes;
You dress differently from your peers;
You clothes are too tight; and
You have a wardrobe full of mini-skirts
The interesting thing about dressing too young is that in the end, it actually makes you look older!
Getting out of style purgatory can be difficult and scary to do. Many of my clients who like to choose comfort over style are fearful that looking good means they will feel tight, constricted and be in pain. Comfort may be part of your style personality and it is important to honour that. And yes, being stylish does mean getting out of your comfort zone , so to speak. But, it doesn’t have to be either/or. You can look great and be comfortable!
Dressing your age is about accepting where you are here and now and being okay with it. But, we can not make the best of the moment and the years to come if we are stuck in the past. This is difficult when we are bombarded with messages about the value of youth and our invisibility and irrelevancy as we age. Owning our age is largely about changing our mindset.
“Your psychological age is dependent on how you see yourself, what your outlook is on life, and how you view the process of growing older and the meaning you associate to it.” (Tracey Redmond/Kate Cutting, Style Coaching Institute)
To get stylin’ and out of style purgatory, change the meaning making machine of your mind to reflect your authentic self. Accept where you are now. Dress the person you are now and the person you want to be.