How does your lifestyle influence your clothing choices?
The first step to discovering this is to do the following exercises to further break down your lifestyle.
- What do you do with yourself?
- How do you fill your time?
- Where do you go?
- Who do you see?
Take some time to answer these questions to help you on your style journey.
Before you answer these questions – spend some time working out who you are if you haven’t already. You may have discovered that there is a Work You and a Personal Life You. These are often distinctly different and require quite different styles of clothing. You may have even more personality styles, and this is fine and it’s great to recognise each part of your unique and complex life and personality.
You may also have discovered with this split personality of yours that you may want to add small details of one personality into another – for example, if you have a very Professional/Classic work personality, but also have a Creative and Feminine side, you may want to look for details to add into your Professional side to express all of you – you can do this with jewellery, or other accessories, or details on clothing.
The above example is a bit over the top, but maybe one of these elements, or a more subtle version of a few will help create your personal style. Inside my 7 Steps to Style program is a really comprehensive section on how to interpret clothing and work with the different personality dressing styles to express your unique personality. This step is so important in understanding who you are, how you want to express your style and what to wear (without it, you’ll never feel stylish and like the best version of you.)
Today is for figuring out your lifestyle and so what kinds of clothes are appropriate for what you do.
Understanding Your Lifestyle Activities
- Take a piece of paper and write down everything you do in an average week (or if you’d prefer, go and print out the lifestyle analysis form and fill it in).
- Then look at each of the categories at the bottom and figure out given what you spend your time doing, what percentage of your life is spent in each of the clothing categories.
- Look in your wardrobe – are the percentages related or have you way too much of one category (such as casual) but nowhere near enough Smart Casual?
- Why is this important? There is no point in buying lots of party dresses if you don’t have anywhere to wear it, or it doesn’t fit with your lifestyle (eg. you live in a dusty country town and are the mother of small children and only go to a wedding or party once every few years).
- Look at the pictures of clothing you’ve collected for the previous exercises in your style discovery – do they fit with your lifestyle? If not, why not? How could you dress your choices up or down to make them fit with your lifestyle but still be true to who you are?
- Also consider your environment – for example, if you live in a place that has cobbled streets, wearing stilettos to and from work every day is likely to see you break an ankle (or break the shoe), either you need to travel in different shoes, or choose a more stable heel type. If you catch public transport to work and are pressed up against other commuters, wearing lots of white or light colours is probably less than ideal as you’re likely to get grubby very quickly.
- It’s time to marry up all the elements that are you, that work with your life, in your environment. This will help you feel most comfortable and confident.
Last night I did a talk for a group of fabulous business women, and one commented that her husband always feels she’s overdressed – she says she doesn’t do casual. She feels underdressed in casual clothing and is more comfortable when smartly dressed. I told her that this is fine as it’s her personality, and there is nothing wrong with always being well dressed, even when everyone else is more casual, as it suits her, and that is what makes her feel most comfortable and confident. Just because her husband is Mr Casual doesn’t mean she has to be too.
If you’d like more tips on analysing your lifestyle and wardrobe needs – this is also covered in depth in my 7 Steps to Style program.
Yes. Big yes. As in I completely agree with you. This was made so clear when I stopped working and was left with only total Casual to wear. Had to go and up it to Nice Casual.
LPC So often I see wardrobes full of clothes that no longer work for the current lifestyle of their owner.
This is an important post, especially for me. When I go shopping, I find myself drawn towards the expensive shops. What I really should concentrate more on, is the basic outdoor ( stable ) wear. Right now I have enough of that too. I do have great winter rubber + leather boots ( Aigle and Mountain horse), riding pants+coat (Eurostar). I always wear gloves at the stables, so a good pair of them is important too. I might have to leave in a short notice downtown, so I trust my Moncler down coat ( long enough to be worn with the riding pants). On the other side, I do like to have my `treasures´, my fancy stuff ready, even if I get to use them only about thrice a week on meetings. There is work to be done. I should find a way to balance my wardrobe better with these two activities of mine. Outdoor gear is so demanding, due to the 4 seasons we are having here.
This is such a Eureka post. I was always trying to develop a style when my wardrobe suffered from multiple personality disorder. Now Iknow why and you make me feel totally normal. This post has provided another important stage in my journey. Thank you Imogen.
Metscan – we tend to overstock our wardrobes with what we 'enjoy' buying or find easiest to buy rather than what we need or works best with our lifestyle.
Jane – so happy you've had a Eureka moment! Tell me more about what you've figured out?
Yes, Imogen, you are once again so right. I do have my fancy stuff in good order ( only 1 suit dress ), the rest can be dressed up and down, jeans playing a main role, so I have to have fitting jeans-in doors and out. My greatest problem ( besides the fact that I´m too shy to dress up, is how to keep my feet warm and in a working condition. In able to do this, I too need to change shoes often; heels on/heels of, supporting shoes and `lazy´shoes, or just go barefoot.
Always good to be true to yourself!
Great ideas (as always) thanks for your response about my readers foundation question, I posted it along with your site in the comments!
so very TRUE!!! Which explains my collection of flats and kitten heels!
This is an excellent list though it would need tweaking for a lot of women I know: women in skilled trades (more traditionally men's work) – yes, casual but much more specific, farmers and horticulturists (needs similar to Metscan's, depending on the animals or plants dealt with), working artists. Health-care professionals.
Nothing religious or spiritual, but a lot of community work/activism and a lot of creative pursuits not directly related to my work.
My major search for something I don't much like buying these days is a warm but not ugly winter coat. I know someone in Melbourne can't be much use for that – the winter you are currently emerging from would be autumn or early spring here. I hate winter so this is difficult.
The other enduring one is for a good bra that works, doesn't look dowdy and doesn't hurt. You have provided a lot of useful advice about that!
Great points and I'd say they're particularly important if you find yourself shopping whilst on vacation (would you really wear that tropical print at home??) or with a friend who has a different lifestyle than yours.
On a recent shopping trip, my friend kept pulling out little party dresses for me, not knowing that I absolutely never go to that kind of "do" 🙂
Because I work with many different kinds of businesses, there is a third question: "What speaks their language"? When shopping I will often say to myself, "this is a good work item"- and will not buy anything I don't like. It's a lot easier now that "polished business casual" is OK for at least 8o% of business settings in N. American cities- but I do find some industries are swinging back to more dressed attire.
Metscan – barefoot is good for both your soul/soles!
WendyB – you are always true!
Maria – happy to help – which post?
Christina – ah, a shoe girl!
Lagatta – I'd be putting them in 'Renowear' or make a Specialist category. And yes – we don't know what a cold winter is here – so don't need any of that very cold weather clothing.
Struggler – yes vacation shopping can be dangerous – you have to always apply the test of would this garment fit into your everyday life at home!
Duchesse – that is why you need to work out what you need to the people you meet and your lifestyle, which is why those old 'everyone must have in a wardrobe' lists just don't work.
Imogen, I'm just waiting for you to come up to Sydney next month so I can have a consultation! I've identified what I hate about my wardrobe, and even some things I need, but I abhor shopping and trying on clothes, so I need all the moral support I can get! This series of posts is fantastic. As I've said before, you're very generous with your knowledge.