Wardrobe 101

Center of Attention

When you dress, what is the center of attention? You or your clothes? People often think that as an Image and Wardrobe Coach, I am all about the clothes, but that would be untrue. My focus is on my client, and keeping my client the center of attention, not the client’s clothes! Your clothes should reflect who you are, your best you, not someone else’s version of you.

Who’s Wearing Who?

Have you ever met someone, and you feel like you have known them forever, or they just seem familiar to you? Believe it or not, that is often a result of dressing with authenticity. Some call it style synchronicity. The outside reflects who they are on the inside, their personality, values, and lifestyle. When you find out more about them, there are no unpleasant surprises, and that kind of inner/outer integration creates trust. You leave feeling that you know that person better, and are likely remember the person, not what he or she was wearing.

Contrast that with attending an event where you met a woman, and later could not remember ther face, or name, but you did remember the purple dress she was wearing? Or the striped shirt he had on? Maybe you are watching a television interview, and you can’t keep focused on the person speaking because his tie is shouting “Look at ME!” In these cases, the clothes are wearing the person.

Sometimes we want our clothes to draw attention. Maybe you are going hunting… Yup, that particular shade of orange is a fabulous fashion choice! If you are speaking in front of a large group from a stage, again, something very eye-catching may be a great way to keep the audience’s focus; they aren’t seeing your face and expressions, so you need to appear larger than life. Most other times, though, the wearer should be the center of attention. We want to keep people focused on our face and expressions, what we refer to as our communication center.

The Flaw in the Plan

Fashion magazines, sale flyers, ads, runway shows… These visuals are often our main source of new fashion images, but these may not be the best place to pick up outfit ideas! They are a fabulous springboard for inspiration, but the carefully staged shots we see everywhere are designed to place the focus on the clothes. The whole point is to sell the clothes, not the models wearing them, so buying (or imitating) the outfit from top to bottom is likely to create a style and personality mismatch! One in which the clothes are doing the wearing. Another frequent inspiration is celebrity fashion, which although more wearer-focused, is still the product of a celebrity stylist, often with a “look” that is identifiable from client to client. Now, those celebrities may have similar personalities, but when you recognize the stylist behind the outfit, by the outfit, that should be a warning flag!

An Easy Way to Check the Focus

One of the easiest ways to check the focus is probably laying right at hand… Yes, I mean your smartphone camera. Take a full-length selfie after you get dressed in the morning (it only takes about a minute) and look at yourself in the picture. What do you notice first? Your face? Or is it the way your trousers are catching on your booties? Others see us far more like a camera sees us. The picture helps because when we look at ourselves in the mirror, we tend to focus on what we want to camouflage first, to see if that has been taken care of… or we skim past the bits we’d rather not see. Neither gives the more objective view of the camera lens. Try it for a week, and look back over the week’s pictures. What do you see?

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