Whilst doing some work in my favourite coffee shop today I noticed a couple of young women sat at the table opposite me. There was nothing out of the ordinary about them, but after paying particular attention to their clothes, something really important suddenly hit me…
Hold that thought.
I hear a surprisingly common story when I work with people around my own age (34 for those that don’t know). They describe a time when they were younger and would often stroll into Topshop without a worry and just grab whatever they wanted. Fast forward 5-10 years and now they’ve sort of transitioned to a place where they feel stuck and don’t know how to move forward with their personal style.
Now let me go back to that coffee shop… what were they wearing?
Double denim and Dr Martens.
Adidas Superstars, a teddy coat and floaty wide leg trousers.
They were wearing whatever they wanted.
Zero f**ks given.
This got me thinking, why is it acceptable for young people to wear whatever they want, but when you hit a certain age you no longer offer yourself the same courtesy. It’s like the sandbox you get to play in shrinks and all of a sudden becomes smaller. And continues to shrink as we age.
Think about all the clothes that suddenly become ‘off limits’. The plethora of rules that start to creep in.
Rules that never applied before. Why is this?
Why are only young people allowed to have all the fun? Allowed to express themselves and let their creativity fly?
Think about dressing for your body shape…
When does the idea that you should dress for your body shape kick in?
This notion that all of a sudden in order to look good you have to ‘flatter’ your body with clothes that make it appear a certain way (usually a tall hourglass figure). This is the reason Gok Wan used to try and cinch in every bloody waist he came across.
I’m not here to have a bash at dressing for your body shape. If that’s the key to you loving your wardrobe and your personal style then that’s fantastic. And I encourage and support you in your choice.
I am here to say there is another way.
So if you’ve found dressing for your body shape confusing, dull and restrictive, and you feel it makes things more difficult rather than easier, then I encourage you to ditch it.
You have my permission to let go of it if it doesn’t help you.
Instead, ask yourself some questions about what you want:
- How do you want your style to make you feel?
- Do you want it actually be unique to you?
Then sit down and start to explore what that may look and feel like. What items do you own now that make you feel great or how you want to feel, what’s the common thread amongst these pieces?
What things do you wish you could wear but have always been told it’s not right for you or wouldn’t suit your body shape?
Be curious. Go out and try them. See if there’s anything that connects with you. See if anything gives you that same unique feeling that the clothes you already know and love do.
This is my last style note before the new year, but it signals a bit of a shift. A shift that’s been percolating throughout the year. A slight shift from the mainstream style advice and a transition to a different way of thinking and approaching your personal style.
I’m really passionate about it because it essentially means more choice. More choice for you. Ultimately, this means you can find an approach to tackling your personal style that really works for you.
This was originally published to my ‘A Stylish Mindset’ newsletter readers. If you enjoyed reading it and want a monthly deep dive into the mindset behind great style then you can subscribe by clicking here.