Dear Tortured, Creative Soul: be stylish, be free

Thursday, February 18, 2016 0 No tags

Dear Tortured, Creative Soul: here's why you want to be stylish.

Photo of Stacy London for Into the Gloss.

Dear Tortured Creative Soul,

I used to be obsessed with the TLC show, What Not To Wear. I would still be obsessed if it weren’t currently off the air. But that’s a sad story for another day.

On that show, women of all ages, shapes, and sizes, were nominated by their goodhearted, better-dressed friends to be made over by the capable non-couple, Stacy London and Clinton Kelly.

One of the big life-lessons I learned from that show growing up was that it seemed there was a well-established trend among moms that their kids came before their appearance.

That was a common confession when Stacy probed them in her best-friend-but-also-a-shrink kind of way, as to how they had gotten into the habit of calling a shower the extent of their personal care routine.

“I’m just so busy taking care of my daughter. She comes first.” 

It should have been the theme song. And Stacy’s answer was always the same. She would hug that mom, look into her weepy, tired eyes, and say authoritatively:

Of course your daughter’s needs are important. But your daughter needs you at your best, as an example and a role model. You are doing yourself a disservice by not taking pride in your appearance. It’s not selfish, it’s thinking of her. And you deserve it. Because you are a great mom.”

And then everyone would start crying. The mom, Stacy, and the viewers at home.

If you are the type of person who feels awesome in a t-shirt and jeans every day, that just might be your signature style. But this post is for the people who throw on whatever is at the top of the laundry pile every morning, while deep down inside, wishing she put a little more time into feeling great in her clothes. Not just moms, but anyone who tells themselves that there are more important things in life than looking good.

Because if that’s the logic we’re using, then there are more important things in this world than working a 9-5.  But I  bet you do that, like, everyday huh?

When the idea of thrifting my wardrobe for 12 months first occurred to me, I had to have a little chat with myself.

At first, I tried to shake the idea off because I didn’t think I was ready to make such a drastic commitment. I asked myself questions like, “Is thrifting really necessary to define your personal style–to love getting dressed again–to learn valuable lessons about getting dressed every day?”

And then the questions turned more broadly into, “is style even important? Isn’t it enough to just wear clean clothes every day, whether or not they are “me”?”

I was this close to becoming a candidate of What Not to Wear.

I started worrying that I was making way too big of a deal out of my wardrobe. I mean, it’s not like I was debating whether I should commit a year of my life to cancer research in hopes of curing it.

Dear Tortured, Creative Soul: here's why you want to be stylish.

But ever since fig leaves came into vogue, clothing has represented so many things about the human population: what is important to us (design, beauty, or pure functionality), what we do with our time (sit around a parlor, plow fields of wheat), etc. Clothes are not just clothes.

In telling myself I didn’t actually care about style, I was really just afraid to admit that spending those first few weeks postpartum in yoga pants and over-sized t-shirts didn’t help my sanity one bit.

I knew that getting dressed in the morning in real clothes affected the rest of my day in a big way, even if I never left the house.

And if clothing can actually make the difference between a good day and a bad, or a productive day and a not-so-productive day, it can’t be all that non-consequential.

But really, what it all comes down to, is that how we feel about ourselves makes all the difference.

If I don’t feel confident in my appearance, I think about myself way too much. When I feel good about my appearance, and at ease in my clothes, I don’t worry about what I look like, and focus more on what I need to get done.

And that’s important.

Yes, it is possible to cross the line into superficial, self-obsessed territory when it comes to style. But that’s a different problem. And probably not yours.

Whenever I talk about personal style, and the importance of developing one, it’s with the understanding that it’s significant, but not more important than the needs of others.

Doctors, soldiers, students, and priests wear uniforms to signify that they serve a higher purpose–that it is not about them. But when those uniforms come off, our individuality serves an important role. Why don’t we wear uniforms in our roles as moms, friends, sisters, teachers? Because those roles benefit from our individuality.

As non-uniform-wearing-human-beings, we still serve others, but we also have a unique opportunity: to inspire individuality, creativity, and diversity in each another.

It is good to let our clothing speak to our life experiences, what we value, and what simply makes us smile.

There’s a reason the flight attendant tells us to put our oxygen masks on ourselves before putting them on our children. It’s not selfish or superficial to take pride in how we present ourselves to others if it helps us put others first.

Is discovering your personal style as noble as finding a cure for cancer? No. But we might have a better chance at finding the cure if we feel dressed for the task.

As a creative soul, I know you like dramatic endings.

Much love,

A fellow (very) tortured creative soul

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