How many times have you seen this narrative in a fictional story: main character magically transformed into a different person, a different version of themselves, just by changing their clothing and donning something they would have never worn before. “The clothing makes the man“, or so the saying goes. I’ve never really put a ton of stock into this idea, until recently, and find my perspective changing on many things in regards to clothing and appearance.
It started a couple of weeks ago, where I’m already in full stressed-out mode at work because it is our super-busy season and we’re short-handed. I already feel like I’m running around with no clue what I’m doing and I’m so uncomfortable but I thought it was just some of the jobs landing on my desk that were new-ish to me. I’d come home and change and instantly feel better, which naturally I chalked up to being home and in jeans. But I recall at some point expressing to BF that I feel uncomfortable in my work clothes. When he asked me to elaborate I just shrugged and mumbled a “I don’t know, I just feel frumpy”. And as it happens we had a mall movie and shopping date, and I perused the sale racks as I’m apt to do, and came away with two shirts at a pretty great deal. The following Monday as I dressed for work I remarked to him that I felt much more comfortable and confident. Throughout the day I felt professional and self-assured – nothing had changed from day or day except that I was wearing something that I felt fit my style and personality more. More investigating required.
The rest of the week I picked my shirts very carefully (as I’m a big fan of black dress pants and coloured tops). What I discovered is that I’ve kept a lot of pieces because they fit, but I don’t love them. I wear them because I see them in the closet and think I haven’t worn this in awhile but I feel like it doesn’t fit me as well as it once did, if it ever. I am wearing pieces I bought over 10 years ago – my body has changed, I have changed, so it makes sense that I would feel differently. I understand the logic in “if it’s not broke don’t fix it”, and while these clothes still fit and satisfies my work dress code, I feel a bit broken. The clothes no longer match the person, and change is necessary.
Step one was another round of shopping. I went on Saturday and not only found a new pair of jeans, but three new shirts to add to my work wardrobe. Ya’ll … I didn’t find these off the sale rack. For the first time **ever** I pulled stuff from current collections and walked out of the store with it. Relax those of you that know I never pay full price … I didn’t. I had a 25% off coupon applied to my entire purchase.
Step two required a little more effort. I pulled every single piece of clothing out of my closet, threw it on my bed, and went through it piece-by-piece. If I didn’t love it, if I knew it didn’t fit right any more, if I couldn’t see myself wearing it in the next 6 months – I pitched it. I’m known to hold on to things with sentimental value, or that I really just enjoy … so it was with very clinical logical no-second-guessing that I purged my closet.
This is what I started with:
I chose not to count how many pieces were here, to not have a “goal number” in mind. I weighed each piece on its own merit. I threw out clothes I’ve had for over 10 years. I threw out pieces I absolutely adored but conceded did not fit the way I still wanted them to fit. I threw out pieces I was clinging to as a “one day I’ll fit in this again”. I threw out my wedding dress (but I saved the cape I made so I could re-claim the yarn for something amazing). In total I removed 24 pieces from my closet, which also made a world of difference in how everything else fit. I will now see 24 less pieces that I will hum and haw over, feel guilty for not wearing them and keeping them.
The combination of step 1 and 2 also required a push back on the ED voice. The lie where it says that it’s my fault my clothes don’t fit right any more, or that I feel ugly in them. It’s my fault that my body has changed so much and I should do XYZ behaviour to get it back to that point. Obviously, terrible inner voice is terrible. Bodies change and that is what they do as you live. My body is finding its normal and sometimes that means clothes don’t fit. Besides, clothes are designed to fit the most of amount of people in one size and newsflash: everyone is different sizes, even if a bunch of people fit whatever number is on the tag. So I kept this in mind looking at clothes that I liked but didn’t fit … I couldn’t wait for my body to get smaller or bigger to fit into them better. I can only make the best decision for the clothes to keep with the body I have right now.
Step 3 is still a work in progress, but an important one. Changing your clothes isn’t enough. There definitely needs to be a shift in attitude. If I didn’t want to feel frumpy when I dress for work, or dress for nights out, then I need to put more effort into it. For the record I don’t feel obligated in the slightest to dress up for any one, any event, any thing other than myself. If I am dressed to the Nines it is because I want to be, not because I believe I have to be. That being said, I tried it over the course of the last few days: yesterday BF and I went out to dinner with old friends of mine. I skipped the usual graphic tee I would have automatically grabbed for, and instead picked a nice top and glammed up a bit with heels. I’m still a bit unsteady when I’m wearing anything but flats or sneakers, but I managed just the same and got a nice compliment on my shoes. I liked how I felt so much that I put on those heels again for work today (along with a new top), and even though I was working on something well out of my comfort zone, I still felt like a rockstar all day. I might even wear the heels all week! I might decide to really put some effort into learning basic make-up skills! The sky is the limit … well, that and my bank account.
The whole point of this is acknowledging that I have changed as a person, but I didn’t let that change reflect in the clothes I wear. And that’s not to say that I haven’t been myself in my clothing up to this point, but that my tastes have been evolving and I should enjoy the freedom to let my personality shine a bit more in my clothing.You better believe I’ll still rock out hard in my graphic tees every chance I get … they make everything alright, alright, alright.