Thursday, January 22, 2009

How to Dress With Confidence

Stripy goodness from stylish Nubby Twiglet

So many times I hear people say, "Wow, I would love to dress like you, but I just don't have the confidence to pull it off." Rather than responding with platitudes, I've decided it is time to let you in on a little secret. Yes, my confidence is down to my personality, but there are a few tricks you can use to manufacture a bit of style chutzpah for yourself.

What is it that stops you leaving the house in your favorite hat, tutu or monocle? It is all a matter of context and peer pressure for most. If you were heading to a gallery opening, chances are you would be bolder, and tap into your artistic side hoping to show the punters that you are indeed, an individual with artistic sensibilities. But take this same individual grocery shopping in the same ensemble and you'll see their confidence melt away before your very eyes. Now I am not addressing the larger issue of event appropriate attire here, as this is a longer and even more subjective discussion. I am instead, simply attempting to shed some light on why some people always appear their true, brave and colourful selves no matter the situation. This is the kind of confidence you want to have.

Let's assume that you have nailed your personal aesthetic. You know what looks good, what makes you happy and how to mix and match to your hearts content. But when it comes to stepping out in that electric blue suit, all the confidence you had whilst posing in front of the mirror is now in a puddle at your feet. So what has changed in this dynamic? Your audience. When it is just you looking appreciatively back at yourself, you only have yourself to please. But when the thought of Shelia from Accounts, the Check Out Girl or the School Gate Mum crosses your mind, you find yourself quaking as you see yourself through (what you believe to be) their eyes.

So what to do? Firstly, reevaluate your thinking.

You don't actually know what any of these people are thinking of your sense of style. They may throw you a negative comment but be secretly jealous, just like mum used to say. There may be whispers of "bold choice" tinged with sarcasm, as these peers seek to validate their own style choices through one mass mind and group acceptance. But this is not always way they honestly feel on the inside. Ask yourself why being accepted as one of the flock is so important to you and if perhaps staring your own trend may be more rewarding.

Secondly, change your audience.

If the biggest peer group in your life are all buttoned down and prim, where you seek to explore your wilder side, you need to find a more appreciative audience. Now, don't go rushing out to dump all your friends and start hanging out in biker bars, all you need to do is find your pals online. Your already here so, put your style out there and get some feedback. You don't need to start a blog as there are loads of online style diaries you can try. People will give you feedback (be prepared for positive and negative) on your style, helping you to refine it, and gain more confidence in your look. There is an amazing power hidden in this. If you have hundreds of enthusiastic peers with whom to exchange ideas, and to tell you how fabulous you are, you will carry these virtual friends with you all day. So when Shelia gives you the evil eye for your choice, you can smile a little smuggly in the knowledge that there a hundred people out there giving you a round of applause.

Thirdly, be the you YOU want to be, it is your civic duty!

Yes, we all have to make accommodations for our situations, be they work, cultural or religious; but you have the freedom to chose how you want express your style. This is an amazing gift you can give to others. As you feel the confidence and freedom to dress yourself the way you want daily, those around you will begin to see the power this gives you. No longer a slave to the sartorial conventions of the masses, you'll encourage those around you to start experimenting in their own way. This may seem small on the outside, but the change of attitude and to their own confidence will be immeasurable. Fashion doesn't just happen, it takes innovation, risk and daring. Raise the bar and others will follow.

So now you know the secret, add it to the stash of super powers in your fashion arsenal and go forth in style my pretties!

Links to some great online style diaries:

My Style Diary
Mode Pass
The Original Wardrobe Remix on Flickr

There are plenty more of these out there. Readers feel free to add links to your favorite sites in the comments section.


Note: Apologies to any Shelias' who work in accounts. Your name was used for illustrative purposes only, don't take it personally. I'm sure you're a very stylish individual.


WendyB said...

The best fashion advice I got in recent years was "Just own it." Once you step out of the house and can't go back, BE PROUD!

Bucca said...

Good advice SKM I originally come from a small city and ppl really do give you 'those' looks if you step outside local trends.
It took for me to move to Melbourne to find the freedom to dress as I please.

Anonymous said...

SKM you make biker bars sound soooo appealing! Can you recommend one for moi to explore his wild side ;)

Skye said...

All very true!

I was born without the embarrassment gene (which is a double edged sword as you can imagine) but I reckon this is great advice for the stylistically timid.

Anonymous said...

SKM: this is so well-written! You hit the nail on the proverbial head. As I read this, I walk away with more confidence, I for one appreciate this article.. its nice to have woman like you cheering us and US on.

Sasha said...

Very good advice! It's almost what I said to myself two years ago when I realized I had enough to try to be like the others instead to be like ME.
It changed everything in my life and my new confidence opened many many doors since...

oniomania said...

you are such a good writer and offer great advice. you should seriously look into making money out of this talent and write a how to guide/book.

Shannon (A beautiful Dream) said...

Tip too is so simple, yet it's something I never thought of before! This is a great post and is certainly going to make me feel more confident despite the stares from the school gate mums.

eloise said...

Thank you very much for this advice, i really feel (even its silly) that you're just talking to me cuz this is exactly the thing i needed to hear right now, hope i can do that! Thanx again!

Emer Ireland said...

::applauding:: Well said!

Personally, I love getting the evil eye from women aboard our military base; I smile to myself and think, "You're just jealous because I look so cute!"

My favorite saying was always, "Fake it til you make it!" So just keep telling yourself how fabulous you are and soon you'll realize it's true!

sparklicous said...

i've been using these techniques for a while to boost my confidence and they're defo working!one of my fave sites is cos it just has such a variety of styles. my google reader is bursting at the seams with little individual's blogs that i find inspiring. sometimes i just look at the pics if i don't have time to read everything.

Meredith said...

Thank you!!! discovering your blog is giving me lots of motivations to dress the way I like...

I love to wear skirts, dresses... I`m not the jeans type...and everywhere you go in my hometown, everyone dress in jeans... know what I mean!? or wear their hair the same way...

Of course , with the harsh winter we`ve been having in Canada (-35 celcius!!!)it`s a bit difficult to wear skirts... With spring arriving in March, weather will be more pleasant than wearing my snowsuit from head to toe :)

Sydney Hell said...

You are amazing.

floraposte said...

That is such good advice! It is tough when people make the sneery face but stop and take a look, it tends to be the most conservative who like to call out the rest of us. We are all individuals but some of us like to express ourselves through our clothes (though in this cold some of us are less expressive than usual!)!

Bec @ honi design said...

That was a great post. (hello :) I've decided to de-lurk!)
I was constantly trying on funky oufits at home then putting on Jeans and a Tshirt to go to work. After Chrissie I decided to walk out of the house in style and I haven't looked back. Almost every day now, people comment on how much they like my new outfits :)You're an inspiration!

Super Kawaii Mama said...

Wendy B: And you obviously do!
Bucca: I've lived in suburbs and cities all my life and still get those looks, but to me it means I'm doing it right!
Richardfitzme: I can indeed make some recommendations..just depends on how wild you'd like to get. ;)
Skye: Ahh our kids are going to love us come high school.
Girl Japan: Thank you, you always come across as a confident person in your writing, and we have to encourage each other.
Sasha: I'm so pleased to hear that.
Oniomania: Thank you, that means a lot!
Shannon: Excellent. We Uncommonly Fetching Mamas have to stick together.
Eloise: You never know... I might just be a little bit psychic. :)
Emer: That's an excellent tip too, I love it.
Spaklicious: That Look book crew take some damn fine photos. Great inspiration.
Meredith: I can't even imagine how cold that is. Perhaps you should just don something fabulous, invite all the friends to come to you and hold court. Works for Elizabeth Taylor.
Sydney Hell: Why thank you.
Floraposte: Yes, I wonder how some of these people would feel if you came to their home and trashed their stuffed bear collection. To each his own. Live and let live.
Bec: Welcome!And congratulations on taking that first huge step! I'll bet it is unleashing a whole new level of creativity for you too. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Miss Sunalee said...

Thank you for this post ! I'm reading your blog since a few weeks and I love it !
I have some confidence problems and the people around me don't help, they're always in jeans and t-shirts. I used your advice to write about the subject on my blog (if you happen to read French).

Anonymous said...

Fantastic article and so true!!! If we all looked the same, how boring would that be.
It has taken me 50 years to look the way I feel ALL the time, and not just at special events or for "artsy" things.

Anonymous said...

Oh thank you SO much, all over the years I wanted to dress vintage but never tried. Thanks to you to QOV and other ladies around there, I started to gain confidence and since 6 month I DRESS THE WAY I LOVE. Most suprising I did indeed change my audience, sadly for some reaon, but happily ever after...