Dressing With Confidence

Val Baldwin, CPC
Live Your Ultimate Life


by Jane Harvey, Reprinted from CareerBuilder.com

The scene has become a standard in every sitcom. The couple is dressing for a big night out and the wife, obviously wanting to dress at her best hauls every possible outfit she has out of the closet one at a time. Trying each one on, she asks her mate, "How does this look"? Dutifully he responds, "That's fine, honey." In total frustration she returns to the bedroom to try yet another outfit.

This is not the description of a woman who has the ability to dress with confidence. So much anxiety and stress, not to mention time, is wasted. How can anyone know that what he or she chooses to wear is the right thing for the occasion at hand? The answer to this question requires that each person first get information in several areas.

  1. What is the nature of the occasion? Is it casual, semi-formal or formal? If you don't know then it is best to be slightly overdressed than underdressed.
  1. Who will be there? Will there be people there you want to impress or be noticed by? Or is it the usual crowd?
  1. What do you have available? Will you need to add to your wardrobe to be dressed appropriately?
  1. What is your personal style? What look have your created that is uniquely "YOU"? How can that style be adjusted to fit the occasion and the people?

Obviously the most difficult thing for some people to do is to know what their personal style really is. The simplest way is to copy the style of someone that you admire. That is the reason there were so many Madonna look-a-likes in the 80's and why so many women had their hair done like Rachel from Friends. But is copying the look of someone else the same as finding your personal style? If we all looked like Madonna or Jennifer Anniston, the answer is perhaps yes. As you are well aware we are all different. Now what do we do?

Several authors have investigated this question recently. Judie Taggart and Jackie Walker, who wrote a recently published book called I Don't Have A Thing to Wear, set out several categories of style that might fit different women. Nancy Nix-Rice has written about the style in her book, Looking Good. These two books are very good resources for anyone who has no idea of what might suit them best. Please remember that these references are only starting points and each of you must refine what they teach to find your personal style.

The essential thing is to remember that you want to find clothes and accessories that set you apart from others. This is all about YOU - your taste. Your wardrobe should make you feel attractive, comfortable, totally you. Don't let that pushy friend or impatient salesperson force you into choosing what THEY think is good. You will probably find yourself in clothes that would make them look good but do nothing for you.

Here is where the whole idea of confidence comes in. When you are confident you are sure of yourself. There is no doubt or worry that you are doing the wrong thing. When you are confident you are not looking inward and thinking, you are looking outward and experiencing the world and your impact on the people around you. So the beginning of confidence is to turn your thoughts outward. For better or worse choose something you like, feel comfortable in and enjoy wearing. Then look for the reactions of those around you. When you take note of remarks or looks from others that seem to be critical, think of how you might modify what you like to adjust to those criticisms you deem to be valid. BUT always stay with what you are comfortable with as a starting place.

After a few weeks of practice at the basic level, you can begin trying out new style elements. As you add to your basic style, try to look at each step as an experiment. Some additions will really work to add precious variety to your wardrobe while others may be mistakes that have to be modified or rejected. The key here is to approach this process as a fun experiment, knowing that you can always fall back on what you already have learned works for you.

Your freshly attained confidence coupled with your newly acquired sense of your personal style will fill out all four steps. You will be able to dress with confidence for any occasion and for any important person.

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