Listen…. Do You Hear That? What is Your Body Telling You About Your Wardrobe?


Let me tell you why I don’t drink coffee or tea…

Whenever I tell someone that I don’t drink coffee (or tea) the reaction I get most of the time is “Oh, you’re good!”  as if it’s because I’m more virtuous than they are.  It’s just that I’ve discovered that caffeine doesn’t agree with me and so rather than have heart palpitations and sleepless nights (even if I have a coffee at 9am, I won’t sleep soundly that night), I just don’t drink it and I’m very careful about any caffeine intake from any source.

This was something I discovered over a few years when I had experiences of not sleeping well or feeling jittery after drinking a coffee, after noticing my heart racing and feeling like it was trying to beat itself out of my chest.  The last coffee experience was when I was pregnant and I’d been out to dinner and shared a dessert which had a chocolate and espresso sauce (so not a lot of coffee consumed) and lying awake at 4am with my baby kicking me and not sleeping and thinking “why am I awake?” before realising that the sauce was the reason.  For me, that was it, no more coffee.

When you truly listen to your body it will tell you all sorts of things.   It’s just often with the busyness of life and loading different expectations, feelings, ideals, thoughts onto yourself, you often either don’t hear or ignore the signs you are getting.

This is one of the reasons that so many women have so many clothes in their wardrobes that they don’t wear.  According to Professor Karen Pine:

“Nine out of ten women own at least one item of clothing they have never worn and most women regularly wear less than half of the clothes they own”

And I can attest to this being fairly accurate as I’ve seen many wardrobes that have multiple items of clothing that still have tags on them (so never worn) and pieces that are covered in a film of white dust on the shoulders (not being worn for a long time).

My question is, why aren’t you wearing them?  What are the reasons?  If you’re not sure, maybe it’s time to start listening to your body, as often there are clues from your body and mind that tell us why you’re not wearing certain clothing that’s sitting in your wardrobe unworn.

Have you ever been annoyed by a flapping scarf, or earrings that are heavy and pull on your ears, or a pair of shoes that pinch your toes? These are all common examples of your body telling you something about your outfit choices and what is making it less than happy. But what else will your body tell you?

Listen.... Do You Hear That? What is Your Body Telling You About Your Wardrobe?

Why Did You Buy It?

The first question to think about is why did you buy the thing that you’re not wearing?

Was something going on in your life that caused stresses in you and so you indulged in retail therapy and that small hit of that feel-good brain chemical dopamine you get on the acquisition of a new thing, giving you a momentary high, even though it’s not something that is right for you in some way?

If this is something you tend to do, it’s really important to start listening to your body and discovering how stress influences your shopping, Jill Chivers has some great articles to help you think about how your emotions influence your shopping (and for some overshopping) tendencies and describes a physical feeling she gets before she would go out and shop for the wrong reason.  If your shopping has become a salve for emotions, do read this very real and revealing article by Jill on dealing with this aspect of what’s going inside your mind and the feelings inside your body when you go for retail therapy for the wrong reasons.

If you do tend to suffer from this kind of shopping to make yourself feel better in some way, it’s really common to have a whole bunch of items that don’t work in your wardrobe, and then you feel a guilt about getting rid of things too.  That guilt can also be a heavy feeling.  Jill has great tips on shopping successfully if this is an issue of yours, that I urge you to read.

Are you just bored with your style?  Have you a wardrobe of similar garments, and you end up buying more of the same rather than something different?  Do you have a first best, then a second best, then a third, fourth or fifth best of basically the same thing?  If this is your issue – read this blog post on how to deal with some of the issues of closet boredom here.

What are your clothes saying to you?  Do they make you feel great or make you feel guilty?

What Does it Feel Like Wearing It?

One of the most common reasons that a garment isn’t worn is that it just doesn’t feel comfortable (either physically or mentally) when it’s on your body.   Clothes are such a personal object, even those who say that they “don’t care about clothes” will still eschew some clothes and choose to wear others.  There is the physical aspect of comfort and how you like to feel clothing on your body (tight or loose), the kinds of fabrics you find pleasant on your skin (stretch or woven, crisp or soft), and how the clothes let you move and perform all the activities in your daily life and of course how they fit (or don’t fit).

Then there is the mental/emotional feel  – does it feel like “you” or someone else.  Imagine your house burned down and all your clothes were lost.  Your friends all gathered round and each gave you something to wear to replace your wardrobe and miraculously, everything fits.  You would most likely like maybe one or two items out of the 20 that you’ve been given, the rest just don’t “feel” like you mentally, physically or emotionally.  Choosing clothing to wear is actually something very personal.

I wrote in depth about how clothes make you feel in my 6 Brilliant Strategies for Creating Your Perfect Wardrobe – and it’s a great resource to help you delve into what matters to you most about the feel of your clothing.

Listen to what your clothes are saying to your body, are they saying  “I’ll make you feel amazing and look gorgeous” or are they saying “You won’t be naked if you wear me“.   “Not naked” is not the look most of us are going for!   So if they are telling you this – it’s time to make a reassessment of why your clothes aren’t working for you.  Do you need to take some steps to understand more about your style?  Maybe your body shape has changed which is why they are not comfortable or don’t fit correctly.  Or maybe you need a few alterations to make your clothes fit your body (not a store mannequin or coat-hanger).

If your clothes don’t fit you your body will tell you, you’ll be adjusting them, tweaking them, or not feeling great in them.  A great example of how your body is talking to you about fit is this Stylish Thoughts post by a blind woman.

What is your body telling you about the clothes you're wearing?
I know that I need comfort and stretch in most of my clothes to feel physically comfortable which also equates to mental comfort (as I’m not distracted by my outfit), plus I need layers as I tend to get cold more easily plus want to wear clothes that make me feel good and like me – so that I feel more confident.


Does it Make You Feel the Right Temperature

One of the reasons there is no such thing as the “ideal wardrobe” for everyone is that there are hot people in the world (who don’t need many layers, long sleeves or thick layers) and there are cold people (who need layers, find it hard to stay warm or even get warm in cooler weather) and so their wardrobe needs are vastly different.

When I do a wardrobe audit with a client, it’s one of my first questions, to find out what they will need (no point in me telling them they need a whole lot of jackets or jumpers when they’d never wear them as they run hot).

Your body will tell you which of these you are, and this can change in menopause and pregnancy.  It’s important to check with your body now as to what makes it feel comfortable temperature wise as if you have the wrong temperature clothing for your body, you’ll never feel truly comfortable.

Does it Fit Your Current Lifestyle?

So many clothes we own that don’t wear are either from a past lifestyle or for an imagined lifestyle or event.  I’ve written about how you need to think about creating a future-focused wardrobe.

Are your clothes telling you that they fit your current lifestyle?  That they are appropriate and right for who you are today and what you’re doing with yourself?  Or are they telling you that something isn’t quite right (or in fact that you’re rejecting invitations because you don’t have the right things to wear?)

Let Your Body Do the Talking

Take a moment each day, often at the end of the day, to listen and see how your body felt, physically, emotionally and mentally in what you wore and then you can think about how you may want to tweak or change an outfit or let an item go if it’s no longer serving you the way you’d like.

Knowledge is Power

In my book, knowledge is power – the more you know about your style, shape, personality, colouring, clothing values, lifestyle etc, the better your clothing and outfit choices become, this is why doing a program like 7 Steps to Style will pay you back hundredfold as it will give you key insights into what’s right and wrong with your wardrobe and style.

What is your body whispering to you about your wardrobe?

More Tips on Building A Your Wardrobe of Ideal Clothes

How Many Clothes Do You Need in Your Wardrobe?

How to Build Your Style from Ground Zero

Keep the Love, Chuck Out the Stuff

Should You Throw it Out or Keep it? One Question You Have to Ask



I'm not sure if it's for you but how would you feel if you learned all about the colours and styles of clothing that suit your individual personality, shape and style? Just imagine what it would be like when you can open your wardrobe and pull together fabulous outfits that make you look and feel amazing every day? If you'd like to stop wasting money on the wrong clothes and accessories plus join an amazing bunch of very special women also on their style journey - then my 7 Steps to Style program is right for you. Find out more here.

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  • Great post Imogen. I’m currently planning my Autumn capsules. While in Brisbane I did quite a lot of shopping. I was staying with my sisters while my husband was in hospital. We were there much longer than expected so I needed more clothes. I was very happy with what I bought – until I got it home.
    The colours and shapes were great. Everything fitted my chubbier body ( Boy can those girls cook!) but it was all too hot and too dressy for my country lifestyle.
    Luckily I put it all away and now have a gorgeous Autumn wardrobe for my changed lifestyle.
    Meanwhile, I have topped up on my usual uniform to get through the rest of Summer, which lasts until @ June here. Was feeling a bit bored with it all until I read this post and realized that it is all perfect.
    Thanks for making me see that I hadn’t fallen from my Path to Style.

  • I have been wondering about that you can’t drink coffee or anything with caffeine in it. What do you drink when meeting friends for “coffee”? Or if you are cold and need to curl up with a warm drink at home, what do you drink? You know, how do you get your “cosy” fix?!

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