Without being authentic, style cannot be truly personal. It’s an oxymoron. Or is it?
One of my clients asked me, “Do I need to fully know myself before I start creating my personal style?”
My answer? “Good God, no!” In fact, creating your personal style will help you clarify who you are — and who you want to become.
You are an authentic, ever-evolving person — glorious in your complexity.
What was true for you at 25 may no longer be true for you anymore. That black suit with the sharp cut paired with the crisp oxford told the world you meant business, you were detail-oriented and you could be a valuable member of any team.
Do you still need to send that message? I’m guessing not. You’ve proved you’re unbelievably competent. Now, you need to show you’re a leader and that you deserve to be on that podium, in that board room and spearheading that multi-faceted team.
However, you might still be wearing a version of that look. Could it be that that look is part of what’s holding you back in your career or your life? I would argue it is.
Hiding in Plain Sight
What worked for you at 25 will no longer for you at 35 or 45 and so on — and that makes sense! You are not the same person — nor is it likely you have the same body. And that is okay.
Perhaps you chose over time to hide certain aspects of yourself. You may not even be aware of this obscuring. But, you do feel the lack of attention.
No one wants to be the woman who starts to fade into the background. Many clients come to me afraid they’ve become frumpy. As we talk further, it becomes clear that’s not really the issue.
You simply do not know how to show up as your beautiful, amazing self.
There is no doubt that ageism and sexism factor in here — I’m not in any way arguing against systemic changes sorely overdue. We need to fight for those changes assiduously.
However, I don’t want you to leave behind what you can do about your own visibility as you engage in that fight. You’re seasoned — and that is a good thing!
We need your seriousness, rigor and competence. We need you to show up as the woman you are right now.
Unmasking Your Awesomeness
Dressing up in masks might feel fun from time-to-time, but hiding your true self on a daily basis wears on the soul. And anyway, we need you to shine your light!
A client recently told me she sees two ways forward for women as we age: classic elegance or kooky cat lady. Is that really all we’ve got? I don’t think so.
Together, we can chart a multiplicity of paths. Those paths translate into specific, authentic personal style.
The model of possibility for older women is exploding. Look at the media. We have public figures like Reese Witherspoon, Oprah Winfrey and the amazing Ruth Bader Ginsburg! There are so many examples of fierce older women who are specifically and authentically themselves.
All of these amazing women have a clear personal style that showcases who they are with one glance.
Personal style opens the door to a third way: authenticity.
It’s absolutely possible to dress as your gorgeous self each day. To choose your wardrobe with intention, to create a signature style that resonates with who you are on the inside and outside and to build a wardrobe of pieces you love. I know because I do this every day!
How We Make It Happen:
When we imagine the woman you want to be every day, it is a mix of left brain and right brain analysis. We connect the intuitive with the cerebral and apply it methodically until we come up with a crystal-clear vision of what your authentic personal style will be.
Here’s how you can get started:
- Access Your Aesthetic. Using a vision board, pull together all the things that are important to you: books, music, film, places, aphorisms, sheroes or art pieces. As you choose, you’ll inevitably create this amazing collage of what is important to you. Within that collage, you can zoom out and see your aesthetic: colors, shapes, density, scale and patterning. In my programs, we use Pinterest so we can work together privately across time and space and I do the zoom-out for you.
- Create Your Signature Style: Once you are clear on your aesthetic, you can combine it with a translation in cut, color, patterning and texture of your core values. With my clients, I do the translation. It’s easy for me and intuitive. There is no dictionary — although I’ll be creating that, too. You can partly do it for yourself by looking up color translations. This becomes a magical brew of data from which we can begin to assemble your signature style. Create another vision board (or use Pinterest) with looks using all that data. Perhaps a dark green suit to indicate growth and business acumen, with a touch of floral patterning in the blouse to show a softer, more feminine side grounded with an oxford or literally elevated with a wedge?
You can begin to see how we assemble a personal style rooted in your core values and you can begin to envision the woman you are now — and the woman you want to become. Once you see it, others will see it, too, as you make it manifest. As that happens, your first impression will begin to align with your actions and trust in your value will grow. I’ve seen it happen time and again. Is it time for this to happen for you? You can do it!