Clothing & Your Past

Are You Buying Into Something That's Not True? Breaking Down What You Can & Cannot Wear & Why As a fashion consultant I work with clients of all sizes. I frequently talk about what clothes work best based on body type. Most people are aware of things they cannot wear - a color, a type of cut, a style of pants. Sometimes they are correct (a different type of pant might be more flattering) but many times they are wrong. It has nothing to do with an intellectual grasp on fashion or style, rather it has to do with what has been internalized over the years.

Here's an exercise to try.

The "I Can't" Exercise

Get out a piece of paper and make the following chart. On the left side list all the things you can't wear.

Then, write down what is true about why you can't wear that item.

Next, try to remember how you learned you couldn't wear it. Maybe someone told you. Maybe you put it on and knew it wasn't the right thing for your skin tone. Sometimes this can be hard to remember, but do the best job you can. If at all possible list the age when you first became aware of the info.

For example, let's pretend you can't wear the color pink.

What's true about it?

When you put it against your skin it washes you out.

When did you learn it?

Perhaps when you were in your early 20's you tried on a pink dress and instead of making your skin look warm and glowing you looked so pale you were ghost-like.

What Might Be False?

Maybe it's not entirely true that you can't wear pink. Perhaps you can wear it when it isn't the predominant color in your outfit.

Or when the color isn't close to your face.

Why It Matters

Wearing or not wearing pink isn't going to change the universe. But, many times the truth of why a decision is made goes much, much deeper. I've had clients tell me that they can't wear sleeveless tops because they aren't flattering. When I asked, "When did you learn that?" a story comes out how the client was teased in middle school because she wore a sleeveless top. Or, how her mother told her she shouldn't wear long dresses because they make her look dowdy.

This happens ALL the time.

When people verbalize why they can't wear something it so often comes back to stories of a) someone once telling them they looked bad or b) being teased / ridiculed in the past.

Has this ever happened to you - 10 people say you look fabulous and 1 person teases you? What comment do you remember? The one that teases you.

The idea is to let go. Maybe the guy who teased you in middle school was a bully. Or, maybe he was just some kid who felt awkward and alone and was trying to do something that made him feel clever. Maybe your Mom felt like she was protecting you when she said a dress made you look dowdy. Or maybe as an adult you look back and realize you just had different taste.

This isn't to say that every decision about you don't wear has a dramatic past to it. Sometimes we just don't like certain things - like the color pink - because it is a personal preference. That's okay! It's also okay if you don't want to wear something because you don't think it is flattering. Everyone's body is different and there might be better choices out there for you.

But, really think about it. What is the root of what you don't wear? What's true about it? What's another way to look at it? Is part of it false? Is there something that needs to be let go?