Have you ever entered a changing room with a handful of clothes which, one by one you try on and realize they all look awful? By the time you’ve got to the sixth item you’ve lost the ‘will to live’ and are convinced that shopping for clothes is something you can’t do, and that you have the worst body in the shop – sound familiar – yes?
Well, you’re not alone!
Why is how we look so important?
“We only have one chance to make a first impression” the saying goes and oh how true it is. It doesn’t matter how non-judgmental we are, we all make a judgment about people within three seconds of first meeting them. If the first impression we gave was negative – we then have to work much harder to put our case across!
Why does looking good make such a difference to feeling good?
Looking good in what we wear, boosts confidence and from that buoyant place of self-assurance we can face the world healthier and happier.
Before taking time out for children, I was a cancer nurse. I saw on so many occasions someone’s pain reduce, their mental attitude change and their prognosis improve, not as you may think by medicines and pain killers – but through having their hair washed and curlers put in, their makeup being done for them if they couldn’t do it themselves, the perfect wig for their face shape being chosen or the new dress/nighty that had been purchased.
In the next fifty years the role of the brain in maintaining health and well-being is going to come under increasing scrutiny. Instead of great investment being put into medication - the pharmaceutical industry isn’t keen on this as you can imagine! We are going to discover just how our brain controls our physical health, from back pain to cancer and provides and maintains those feelings of well-being. Working with the developments of brain science, our ability to make the best of and accept our body and face will be the way forward.
What role do clothes play in helping us to feel good?
We have to remember that clothes have always been around think Adam and Eve or Darwin and the climate. The earliest quote on clothing I can find is from the philosopher Epictetus AD 55 – AD 135.
“Know, first, who you are, then adorn yourself accordingly”
This is a tip that is still true and necessary today.
Knowing your body shape - warts and all - and understanding how to put your personality into clothes, working with your body shape are key to looking and feeling good.
Clothes are a major part of our life seven days a week and for some of us twenty four hours a day as well if you wear pyjamas! So it’s no wonder we spend a lot of money and time trying (and I emphasis trying) to get it right.
We have so much to take into account – what’s available and fashionable. For us in England, as we well know, our climate can quite often mean three outfits in one day! The suitability of attire for what we are doing, clothes that allows us to feel comfortable, to be able to do what we need to in our clothes and to ‘fit in’ with what everyone else is wearing.
Our family upbringing and home life, our religion and even what sports we play all contribute to our style of clothing and on top of all that we have a personality that we want to show through our clothes.
Wearing the right clothes for each occasion can be such a challenge!
Because of the many dimensions of dress – we, as the human race are inclined to go for a style of clothes; a uniform that helps mark our identity and make us a part of a group (uni – unify, form – formation) – I know I’ve been there - think of the obvious - school, football team, nurse, police. Then there are the clothes that are not quite so obvious, the suit (both for males and females), clothes for the school gate, lunch with friends, and then there’s that special occasion. When we dress for that night out we are looking to blend in with the crowd and some of us may even want to look better than the crowd and be noticed.
Not too many years ago I went to what I mistakenly thought was a fancy dress party dressed as a pink lady from the musical Grease – how uncomfortable did I feel getting strange looks all evening – if I had been dressed ‘way out’ such as a lion it would have been obvious and funny, but because my pink lady outfit wasn’t so obviously outlandish I just got strange looks all evening. I was out of kilter from the rest of the group.
I’m sure a lot of you have worried about what everyone else is going to be wearing at ‘do’ and then spent all night comparing ourselves to the others but few of you will have had such an extreme reaction from others!
The anxiety we feel about what we’re wearing comes from the subconscious knowledge that we are being judged like we judge others. This happens in our day to day lives – some of us have our uniform for various times down to a fine art. Dressing smartly in a suit for work allows us to hide behind that suit very well as everyone knows just what the person in the suit does. But the panic that can ensue from an invitation saying smart/casual can really throw us! I have to say for myself that is also the worst sort of invite to get as it’s so hard to define!! We’ve all gone to something feeling either overdressed or underdressed.
And then there’s fashion…
How do we manage to gain confidence when the fashion world is one big industry that wants us to spend our money, lots of it, but doesn’t give us any clue as to what will actually look good on us rather than on the skin thin mannequins? Shops give us dreadful mirrors and lighting in changing rooms and usually disinterested assistants with no idea how to help us.
We all need the right tools so that we can walk into a shop and choose items of clothes that we like and walk away feeling a million dollars and excited by the prospect of wearing them. Does this sound unlikely?
It can all seem so overwhelming…
No, not really all you need is a few secret tricks of the trade, understanding how to dress to suit your body shape – 50% of us have no idea and another 40% think it’s something it’s not. By finding your body shape, recognize it, owning it and being proud of it you take away a lot of body image problems, negativity and anxiety.
Fashion brings in colours, but which of these colours suit you? Some colours wear you, some can make you drawn and tired while other colours make you look radiant!
Tips on how to manage your wardrobe can help you adapt and accentuate your clothes so they don’t look dated and they can save you money as well as looking good.
This can be done with people who are in their teens, twenties and well up into their eighties and more! I just wish I’d known what I know now in my teens – imagine how much money and stress I would have saved myself over the years! And it doesn’t even take long after a two - three hour lesson/consultation and you’ll be well on your way!
Looking good all the time is possible for everyone!
Knowledge is power!
Audrey Hepburn said “Happy girls are the prettiest.”
Sophia Loren said “Nothing makes a woman more beautiful than the belief that she is beautiful."
Edith Head said "You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it."
Coco Chanel said "A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous."
Looking good, feeling good and somehow the world seems such a brighter place for us!
Whilst film star looks may be beyond us physically and haute couture beyond our pockets; making the best of all our assets makes a difference and what’s more – it is such fun and doesn’t need to break the bank!
Sally Inkster offers great advice, whether through consultations or through her brilliant fashion update newsletters!