Navigating the Emotional Rollercoaster of Fashion: A Journey to Self-Discovery
Fashion has an undeniable impact on our emotions. It can empower us with confidence, but it can also leave us feeling inadequate and out of control. Let’s explore the emotional complexities of fashion and how it intertwines with our sense of self. We’ll also delve into the transformative journey towards sustainable fashion and self-awareness, emphasizing the importance of making mindful choices in our wardrobes.
The Emotional Turmoil of Fashion
Fashion is a realm of mixed emotions. Many of us have experienced conflicting feelings when it comes to our clothing choices. We feel “confident” but also “not good enough,” “too big/short,” or even “unattractive.” Fashion often leaves us feeling like we’re “not quite right” because when we try clothes on in the changeroom, we don’t look as good as we imagined we would, or how others look in those clothes.
Take an Emotional Inventory
Take a moment to reflect on your own emotional responses to fashion. What are the dominant emotions you associate with your clothing choices? Grab paper and a pen and note them down. Consider questions like:
- How do you feel when you’re browsing clothing options on an online shopping website?
- How do you feel when you’re looking at curated fashion spread images (think magazine or advertising)?
- How do you feel when you’re scrolling social media and seeing people you consider to be fashionable?
- How do you feel when you’re trying on clothes in a store change room?
What are the emotions that come up for you? Maybe you feel like you’re not enough, judged poorly, frustrated or “too short/tall/big/small”, or maybe you feel excited, inspired or invigorated?
Are your feelings more positive or negative?
The Journey to Self-Discovery
Are these emotions making you turn away from style, telling yourself it really doesn’t matter? Or are they making you feel like you have an opportunity to take control and change how you feel?
I’m assuming that you don’t want to feel bad about your clothes, style and image choices. So particularly if the emotions that you associate with fashion are negative, let’s turn away from fashion for a moment and think about you, and the wonderful person you are at your core.
What Makes You Awesome?
Grab your paper and pen again and list three traits or qualities that you genuinely value about yourself, beyond physical appearance. These could be characteristics like compassion, creativity, or kindness, or maybe it’s your independence, competence, or loyalty. The list of possible amazing things about you is endless, so just choose three to start with. Recognizing these traits is the first step towards aligning your fashion choices with your authentic self as you become more self-aware which means external messages can be filtered more easily as you can choose what fits and aligns with you and your values and what you can ignore as irrelevant to you.
Let’s delve deeper…
Journal your thoughts on these two questions:
- How has your sense of self evolved over time, especially in relation to your fashion choices?
- Do you think your fashion choices now reflect your true self and values better than in the past?
Fashion as a Catalyst for Transformation
Fashion and style have the power to either empower or hinder your personal growth. In the past, it might have left you feeling inadequate or disconnected from the mainstream, or it might have been a way that made you feel like you “fit in” or blend with those around you.
Reflection on Past Shopping Habits
Here are some more journaling prompts to help you think more deeply about your experiences and emotions around fashion and shopping:
- Reflect on how your previous shopping choices may have influenced your self-perception.
- Did fashion make you feel like an outsider or out of control?
- How did this affect your overall well-being?
- Have you experienced moments when you felt like your clothing choices were at odds with your true self or values?
- How can you bridge the gap between your fashion choices and your desire for self-empowerment and authenticity?
The Path to Mindful Fashion
We hear a lot about fashion sustainability these days, and yes, not buying clothes from fast fashion chains that exploit both workers and the environment is a great starting point, but even more importantly sustainability comes from understanding what really works for you, your personality, your lifestyle, your body and colouring and your values.
It’s essential to realize that you are not the problem; the fashion industry’s unsustainable practices are, some of those practices are the marketing and sales techniques that constantly tell you that you need new and different from what you already. All those unboxing videos that fast-fashion retailers are so keen to have you see so that you feel that somehow you’re lacking (and getting a box of clothes can feel like a present, even when it’s not your birthday). However, there is a way out of this predicament. By making mindful choices in your clothing purchases, rooted in the knowledge that the clothes you choose are ones that are an expression of you and that you don’t want to wear once and throw out means you can be an agent of change. I want you to only embrace the fashions that make you feel great.
- How can you actively choose fashion that aligns with your values and self-worth?
- In what ways can you contribute to a more sustainable and authentic fashion industry by saying “no” to fast fashion temptations?
In the end, fashion should be a tool for self-expression and self-discovery, not a source of inner turmoil.
There is so much truth to the saying that Knowledge is Power, particularly when it comes to making sustainable fashion and style choices. When you have a deep understanding of what really works for you, you’re not tempted by the latest thing (unless you know that it really will work for you and your style, body and colouring becuase you’ve got your must-have criteria list nailed down). It becomes so much easier to appreciate the new and latest on other people, but not feel tempted in the slightest (or feel emotionally “less than”) because you have the knowledge and education in style that empowers you to say yes only to the right things for you.
If you’d love to learn about what really works for you, I’d love to invite you to my 7 Steps to Style program so that you feel empowered in your wardrobe each morning as you’re putting together stylish outfits that feel authentic as well as when you shop, or even when you’re scrolling through Instagram.
Embrace the power to make conscious choices that reflect your true self, and remember that you are more than what you wear.