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Friday, June 29, 2012

Death by Good Taste

"Remember that always dressing in understated good taste is the same as playing dead."  ~Susan Catherine

Good taste conveys good breeding, good sense, and a good education. Right? 
Um, no.

First, I don't think that breeding, sense and education are necessarily the best hallmarks to aspire to. They're not a guarantee of a good or interesting person, or even someone worthy of knowing. Second, the visual 'cues' that suggest 'good taste' can be learned without benefit of especially good breeding, sense or education. I've met plenty of people seemingly oozing 'good taste' who were truly snakes underneath that impeccable exterior. On the other hand, I've also met lots of people with totally unassuming exteriors, and not to be unkind, but downright slovenly appearance who turned out to be fascinating, wonderful people most worthy of knowing. The kind of person I'm honored to have in my life. There's a much better place in between these two extremes- a more fun, enjoyable and honest place.

When I get dressed in the morning it's almost like I pick a 'role' to play. Like I'd play 'dress up' when I was a little girl. I have FUN with my appearance.  As a general rule, I have 4 or 5 different styles.  My 'professional' persona comes closest to good taste, but even that I just can't leave alone, because that's just not who I am.  I wear the suit or dress at the proper hemline, but it's a bit more fitted than might be considered in 'good taste.'  Though my shoes are respectable pumps or sling-backs, they are, as always, 5 inch platform stilettos.  And my jewelry, though more restrained than usual, is still on the gaudy side.  I mean, I love the feel of the fine silk blouse (that costs more than my rent) and the beautiful loafers (that cost more than my motorcycle) but really- if I put them on I get BORED. They look boring. To me the only thing impressive about them is the price and that those who see them will know what they cost. Honestly- a cheap t-shirt from a lowly chain store is often just as comfy- and flattering, dare I say- as that expensive, designer silk blouse.  More to the point, despite the fact that everyone will clearly see the 'good taste' of this outfit, it doesn't reflect who I am.  It just broadcasts that I'm too insecure to express ME, that I'm invested (literally) in impressing others. In getting 'validated' externally.

I'm FAR more than just someone with good breeding, good sense and a good education. I'm willing to bet you are too. (Ok, some might say I often display a decided lack of sense. And maybe my breeding is a tad questionable.) My interests are, shall we say, sometimes what others might consider a tad over the edge- I don't exactly follow convention in most areas of life.  Except with my personal relationships- then I try to be simple and honest and follow the golden rule. That's one area in which I'm willing to be boring and reliable. Anyway. Why should my clothes be boring? Why would I want to misrepresent myself that way? In the end, who does that serve?

My point is, is it worth giving up your chance at self expression just to be safe, impress others? Even if you've simply never taken the time to explore what your self-expression might be, or consider yourself a total non-artistic left brain-er, you may find if you make the conscious effort to develop this part of yourself that you have some very unexpected and decided preferences- perhaps even a very interesting style. And you may find you really, really enjoy it. If you know what colors and design lines make you look your best you can work with them to develop whatever style makes your heart sing. 

Life is just too short to be boring.  

Happy Dressing!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Moving On

'There is no cosmetic for beauty like happiness.' ~Marguerite Blessington

When someone is happy, it shows. It shines through. And in my experience it's always very attractive.   

In last weeks blog I went on about how important authenticity is- about being clear on exactly who you are and what you want from life, and I like to think I managed to tie it in to personal image.  This is the next step from that- consciously starting to spend your time and energy on going for those things.  It might start with something as small and personal as changing a habit.  Maybe then you'll move on to something as big and out there as a career change, or big geographical move. Doesn't matter what it is so much as the fact that you're moving in a direction that gets you closer to fulfillment.  The magic happens when you make the decision, then break it down into manageable, do-able pieces- and get moving.

And what exactly, (you ask) has all this to do with personal image? Well, as stated in the above quote, happiness is a potent cosmetic, and that's part of it. When you're following what feels like your 'purpose' in life, your bliss, and living with integrity, each step you take and achievement you earn not only improves your entire experience of life, but also boosts your confidence.  When your confidence is high and you're just happier in general you're more likely to be self accepting. And there lies, I'm convinced, the secret.

Confidence and self acceptance makes you more likely to be willing to step outside the box, to try something new- in life, or your daily attire-  because you believe in yourself. It makes you more willing to try something that you might have been afraid to try before. And this willingness extends to making mistakes- not everything will work, and if it doesn't, you do your best to fix it and move on. Better yet, figure out what went wrong and learn from it, and you'll make that much more of a savvy, informed choice the next time you try something new. 

Going after what you really want in life may seem daunting- but when you break it all down into steps, and actually take that first step, the happiness and confidence it'll give you will make it all worthwhile. And thats pretty irresistible. 

Happy Dressing! 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Get Real

"It is better to be hated for what you are than loved for what you are not." ~Andre Gide

They say that when you are your authentic self you are at your most potent, or powerful. I think that's not only because you're being totally honest, and honesty is strength, but also because you're displaying a genuine faith in yourself.

When we are at our most authentic we have a better chance of reaching our highest potential because we're positioning ourselves to pursue our truest desires- and there is no greater motivator, and no greater satisfaction when achieved. When we're disconnected from our authentic selves we're more likely to be unhappy, and thus perhaps indulging in unhealthy habits that not only cloud our experience of life, but could likely shorten it, too. (I do like to veer off toward the dramatic and maudlin. It's a thing with me.)

The most important part is how it feels.  Having nothing to hide, being clear and honest about who you are and what you want feels fabulous; and not surprisingly, dressing in a way that reflects that feels just as good. I'm always saying how life is too short to not take advantage of the pleasure in looking the best you can; to really make this work it's important to be conscious about what best expresses who you are visually. I feel it's an integral part of being your authentic self.  

Being me, I tend to see the whole 'authenticity' thing from not just the internal, personal integrity perspective, but also the external, visual perspective. The internal aspect is crucial to self actualization, the external is a happy reinforcement of it all.  So, again: if you know what colors and design lines make you look your best, and have worked out how to make what you love fit within those guidelines then you'll hit an almost magical, emotionally gratifying sweet spot- the place where not only do you look your very best, but you are also visually expressing your most authentic self.  

And it's not just that you'll be happier 'doing your thing-' there are other considerations too; if you spend your life trying to be what you think others expect of you, you probably won't do that as well as you'll do 'being yourself.' No one else can do 'being you'  the way that you can, right?  Because you are THE authority on what it means to be 'you.'   Trying to be what you imagine others expect of you puts them in the drivers seat because they define what it is you're trying to be, not you.  Also I suspect that being inauthentic comes across to others- people sense that you're not really what you're presenting yourself as, and this could promote a feeling of distrust.  Talk about shooting yourself in the foot-!

In short, make your aesthetic choices based not only on what makes you look your very best, but also on what makes you happy- not what you think will please others.  When we live life from our truest self we have more to offer the world at large, and what we offer has more value- because truth is always, always more powerful than dishonesty.

Happy Dressing!