I recently met a new client for a coffee to have a chat about working together. While discussing various things she highlighted:
“I don’t want to look like mutton dressed as lamb”
This is THE most common line I hear from women over the age of 40. So this isn’t uncommon for me to hear when working with clients. But that shouldn’t be a surprise to me as 40 is the age where women feel dressing becomes difficult for them (it’s 37 for men).
I recently read this article which I loved.
To sum it up; we live in a world where we’ve SO much choice, how can we still feel as though we can’t find anything to wear?
Is it the case you can’t actually find anything you like? Or is it that you’re afraid to make the wrong choice and so it’s easier to make no choice at all? (This can manifest in sayings like ‘mutton dressed as lamb’).
I mean, no one wants to hear they’ve made the wrong choice. It’s uncomfortable if it’s people you know and love who are telling you. If it’s a stranger in the street giving you a glance that lingers for a second longer than it should, it’s the even worse.
I get why. I understand the psychology. No one wants to be that outcast from the tribe. The one that people mutter under their breath about when you walk past. A stranger giving you a judgemental look can make you question an outfit you’re not sure about. Potentially kicking start a cycle of negative thoughts about how you dress. They could have been looking at something else. But if you’re unsure, in your mind, they were scrutinising you and what you were wearing.
If you’re not confident about what you’re wearing is it worth the pain? We often talk about the physical pain clothes and accessories can inflict. Fabrics that irritate, straps that dig in, shoes that rub. But what about that internal pain? That horrible feeling in the pit of your stomach when you don’t know if you’ve got ‘it’ right.
So I understand why you don’t bother.
But what’s the answer?
Where that article was great at pointing out what we all feel, it didn’t do much in helping us feel any different. I don’t want you to sit down and nod in agreement with this article then do nothing about it. So what can you do?
There’s no quick fix to feel confident so it’s a difficult one.
How do you ‘be more confident’ with clothes?
You could break the rules and wear whatever, but to do that, you have to feel confident in the first place.
One way I’ve found works pretty well and is a something I’ve used myself is the following:
01 | Take a small step – Try wearing something that’s a little bit different or daring than you’d usually wear or something you feel you can’t wear. The key thing is ‘a little bit’. You don’t want to take a giant leap. So start small. It could be something as simple as wearing a print instead of colour. A good way to give you a bit more encouragement is to find people who are already wearing something similar. Instagram is a great place for this. Hashtags like #dresslikeamum or #40plusfashion are filled with inspiration from everyday people just like you.
02 | Get feedback – Get feedback on what you’re wearing. I don’t just mean from other people. You may get compliments from friends, family and if you’re lucky, even strangers. But I think it’s important to listen to your own thoughts. Have an opinion, know whether you like it or not. Being sure about what you’re wearing can give you that unwavering belief that it’s right for you, even in the face of other’s opinions. Take some time to think about how you feel in it. How you look in it. Don’t just rely on one thing but take account of all these different types of feedback before you make a judgment. If at this stage you feel the item you’ve picked doesn’t work, go back to step one and start again.
You should get a little boost of confidence after taking that initial action. So so follow it by trying a piece of clothing or accessory that’s a step up from the last. Another item you don’t think you can wear or something a little bit bolder. Then through step two again.
Over time you’ll start to feel more confident. You’ll also have tried clothes and accessories you’d never even considered before. You can look back at the outfits you wear every day where before you were a bit unsure about. You can appreciate how far you’ve come. Having pushed your style forward, wearing things you’d never have dreamt of. Forget about the rules, they’re there to break. Once you know how to be confident in the things you wear it unlocks so much and frees you from that trap of not feeling like you can wear stuff.
If you want more advice on how to adjust your thinking and mindset to improve your personal click here and sign up to my monthly style notes that focus purely on this topic.