In all my years of dressing myself -- through the ups of young high school style and the downs of poor grad school choices, the decades of thrift store shopping and the more recent years of Nordstrom purchases, the shifts in weight and size and age and hair length, along with my love for patterns and prints and wide leg pants and experimental looks -- I've learned a lot. But no lesson has been as important as this one: It really doesn't matter what you wear, as long as you wear it with an unapologetic and unyielding sense of confidence.
Of course, there are things that matter in attaining a certain style: fit (the most important of all, really) and visual interest (texture, shine, color, pattern according to Stacy London and Clinton Kelly, the What Not To Wear gurus) and current trend (if you care) and situation (retaining a sense of appropriateness... like not wearing a strapless bridesmaid dress to work, for example). But really, the most vital part of getting dressed (and feeling good overall) is not actually style per se. It's confidence. Let me say it again:
The most important element of getting dressed is confidence.
In fact, I really believe that confidence is one of the most essential parts of life. I mean, what are we if not confident? We are all unique and lovely individuals in our own rite; we each have something meaningful to contribute to the world and to humankind. Yes, it's important to be kind. Sure, we should try our best not to judge others. Of course, let's respect our fellow humans. Please try to be clever and intelligent as we most certainly need that in the world. And yet how can you succeed in any of these domains if not filled with a sense of confidence?
I'm not talking about the kind of confidence that makes you come off like an arrogant asshole with a huge ego. I'm talking about the kind of confidence that generates kindness towards others. The kind that breeds self love from within so you can go into the world as your best self. The kind that allows you to dance naked in the middle of the living room floor because you feel so damn good in your body. Let's celebrate the pock marks and discoloration and loose skin! Let's get wild about our strong legs and our nice cheekbones and our big heart! Let's shake our tight rump and our hardworking stomach and our reliable quads! Our bodies are masterpieces!
Quite honestly, it really chaps my ass to hear people criticizing themselves and their bodies. YOU are your biggest ally. YOU are your own best champion. It's really just bad business to be hatin' on your sweet bod. I see a variety of people with their clothes off in the dressing room and each time, I am struck by how lovely and wonderful each individual body looks. People may think I am judging them, and yet, I am really thinking: Wow! Her arms are amazing! Her calves look so strong! She has a such a delicate neckline - we should really capitalize on that with the next batch of shirts we try on!
I'm focused on the most positive and beautiful parts of people. As a stylist and as a human, I tend to see people's best parts -- parts that I'm really hoping they'll see too (if they don't see them already). It's interesting: often, I feel I must make it clear, perhaps even give my clients permission to feel joy around dressing themselves. Then many of them can at least start to take themselves and their closets less seriously. Who cares if someone judges you about what you're wearing? Who cares if you "make a mistake?" In so many situations, a person's sense of style is more about the confidence they have in their clothes than what they're actually wearing. Have they given themselves permission to feel good in their clothes? For stylish people (the people we see walking down the street who we want to emulate), the answer is often a resounding YES.
Let's promise each other one thing: Let's try to feel more confident and joyful in the coming weeks. And if it's especially hard, let's fake it until we make it. Take that compliment and try to believe it. Look at yourself in the mirror with love and respect and kindness. Try to be less serious and more playful when dressing yourself in the morning. Here's a secret: IT DOESN'T REALLY MATTER THAT MUCH. No one really cares. And if they do, let's not take it too personally. 'Cause our opinions of ourselves matter the most, right?