Jill Chivers of 16 Style Types and I discuss different processes of getting dressed and why it can feel so hard to get dressed stylishly.
As much as we may have been getting dressed our entire lives, it is something that is often harder than we expect, which can make smart women feel a bit useless!
Why is it so complex for so many women?
Getting Dressed is Not Just Physically Putting on Garments
This is what we were taught as children, how to get dressed in a physical way aka, one leg at a time, head through the head hole etc. What we are NOT taught is how to select garments:
- That suit me physically – body shape, proportions, variations, texture and sheen
- That work with my colouring
- That match my scale
- That represents my personality
- That fit my current lifestyle and location
- What’s the weather
- What’s the occasion
- That make me feel ike the best version of me
- And then how to add accessories to finish off the outfit!
Getting dressed is all about making the choices from an overwhelming range available to us.
How Did You Choose The Items You Currently Own in Your Wardrobe?
Everything you own comes from a choice you’ve made when shopping (or if someone gave you something, a choice to keep the item).
It is from these items that you’ll be making your decisions each morning on what to put on.
If you hate shopping and buy “it’ll do” clothes then you’re unlikely to be feeling good when you’re putting any outfit together.
If you buy wardrobe orphans that don’t go with anything else you own, you’ll find it tricky to put stylish outfits together.
If you have a wardrobe full of clones, basically the same item over and over, you may be super bored with your style and its lack of variety.
What do you keep and what do you cull? Do you have clothes in your wardrobe that are a decade or more old that you haven’t worn for a long time as you don’t like to let things go?
Or do you cull regularly and sometimes let go of things that you later regret?
Can you see what you have because your wardrobe is not overstuffed?
How is Your Wardrobe Organised?
Can you find what you own easily? Wardrobe organisation also impacts how easy it is to put outfits together, to find items quickly, and to see the different outfit options in front of you. For example, if you have multiple clothes on one hanger, you won’t remember what’s at the bottom, so will likely never wear the item, as if you can’t see it, you won’t wear it!
Having accessories easily visible and available also means you are more likely to wear them, than if they are tangled together in a box out of sight.
If you can’t find something, you can’t use it in an outfit. When wardrobes are disorganised you’ll find it so much more difficult to put a stylish outfit together.
What’s Your Getting Dressed Starting Point?
Like cooking a meal, you need to know at least something, like what’s your main ingredient.
For Jill, her starting point is either a top, bottom or dress (never an accessory), a major garment. Occasionally sometimes Jill feels that there is something missing, that her outfit is incomplete.
My process varies much more, sometimes I will dress from a specific garment, such as a jacket. Sometimes, it’s a colour that I feel like wearing, and other times it may be an accessory that I want to wear that I’ll base my outfit around. Sometimes it’s a feeling (such as comfort). It varies but usually there is something that is a motivator for the whole outfit.
As an ESFJ type, Jill builds up her outfit from the details, from the major garments, to the minor to the accessories, one step at a time, as she doesn’t have a big picture vision. It’s an addition, sequential process – from large to small.
For example, Jill started her dressing process with this jacket as the piece she wanted to wear, then chose the other items pants, top then accessories afterwards, building it from large items to small items.
As an INTJ type, I have an overall vision or sense of outfit (and that may come from an earring or shoe that I feel like wearing that day) that I want and then my process is to fill in with the details from that big picture starting point.
Whilst I built this outfit from the rose necklace and then added in other items, that went with it, and I also wanted to mix prints in my outfit as well so then my choices revolved around colours and patterns that worked together with the rose necklace (a gorgeous handmade piece by artisan Angela Clark). The rose is sweet, the leopard a little edgy, the denim jacket relaxed, the check pant more structured (mixing flavours to make a more interesting outfit, just as mixing flavours can make a more interesting dish).
What are the Flavours in Your Outfits?
Just like in any recipe you want balance, so you may use some sour to balance sweet you can apply this to your outfits as well – remember, you don’t have to eat the same flavours every day (you don’t just eat sweet, or salty, or savoury etc) it’s one of the reasons peanut butter cups are such a favourite – it’s a salty with sweet combination, they balance each other. You can create balance in your outfits too by combining yin and yang elements, where you can mix delicate with edgy, or structured with soft, so you’re not just creating one flavour. You will have flavours that you love more than others, but you have the option to use them all. You can check out my masterclass that dives deep into how to do this here.
One entire module in our Your Type of Style program is devoted to wardrobing, from organising it in a way that works for you (as we like to organise things differently, there is no one right way), to editing and culling, all based on your personality type and what works for you as an individual.
What are your processes? How do you make choices about what to wear each day?
If you feel like you’re stuck, this is because you haven’t got the style education you really need, as you don’t know enough to make the best choices for you (or you have poor information that just doesn’t work for you). You can’t copy authenticity, yet fashion magazines and most of the information on the internet about style don’t help you find what is authentic to you,
This is why you’ve found it so frustrating and feeling like a failure at times. Because the information you have is not about you, your preferences, your way of being and doing and so never feels quite right, and you have no idea (apart from keeping on shopping to find that magical garment that will fix all your style woes) how to fix this.
Learning about who you are, what you love and how you can best express your style is how you’ll develop your own authentic style that feels right and true to you.