Firstly, done right, styling can convince yourself and others that you’re on sparkling form. I once arrived at my Mum’s for Christmas with the most stinking cold. My head felt awful and I was sneezing and coughing and there was a lot of phlegm. I mean lots. When I arrived my Mum said: “I thought you said you were ill. You don’t look it.” I uttered a bunged up reply: “I am ill. I’m just wearing makeup.” At which point my Dad chimed in: “Yes, because it makes you feel better.”
How my Dad knows this has yet to be investigated, but the point is that even he knows that the most subtle methods of presenting yourself well can convince others that you don’t have to be quarantined and in turn make you feel better about yourself.
It’s not rocket science: when you make the effort to look great you change the way you feel about yourself. Being paid compliments (or just being told I didn’t look as awful as I felt) turned out to be great for my immune system and I got rid of that cold pronto.
Then there’s the effect the way we present ourselves has on others – at work, socialising, special occasions and all kinds of everyday circumstances. It conveys a certain message of confidence and respect for ourselves and for other people.
A lack of care about self-presentation is a distraction. Obviously, it’s pretty hard for someone to be charmed by your scintillating wit when they’re focused on the gravy stain down the front of your shirt (carry wet wipes with you, they’re amazing for minimising stains in an emergency), or the button that’s just hanging onto your trousers by a thread which might pop off into their face (that’s where those mini sewing kits from hotels come in useful).
Striding onto the bus in a bikini might feel comfortable to you but others might feel that you should either wear the bikini or a hipster beard, but not both. Never both.
On the other hand showing your best friend you care by knowing how to dress on point for their wedding, positively representing your company at external meetings or making potential employers feel confident about your capabilities are just some of the benefits that come from knowing how to put real care into the way you look.
The general issue most people tend to have with style, however, is not about being overly inappropriate, it’s that people tend to veer in the opposite direction because they don’t want to stand out too much.
Fitting in is psychologically linked to the idea of being liked so everyone blends together not wanting to be the only one to stick their head above the style parapet.
People engage in “sabotaging self-talk” to talk themselves out of looking…well…outstanding. Used positively, internal chatter can reassure us that we are good enough. However, so many people spend way too much time worrying about perceived imperfections which is no way to live.
I’ve had clients happier to criticise themselves than accept compliments just to guard against sounding conceited. Enough! There’s a difference between being oblivious to critique and being victim to self-sabotage. It’s the balance between turning up to the board meeting in denim cut-offs and telling yourself that everything you put on looks awful on you – of which the latter is something a surprising amount of people do.
Styling doesn’t exist in and of itself, but to reinforce those other important areas of your life. Dressing with confidence and passion means conscious and active participation in matching up how you look where you are or want to be in life. That’s it really. Do that.