All About Beauty: Part 3: Self-Expression Through Fashion

Woman-Trying-On-Clothes

Break out the red carpet, girls! ‘Cause today we’re talking about self-expression through fashion!

Fashion is powerful. It can help you nail a job interview, embrace subtle parts of your personality, stand up for a cause, connect to people, encourage, astound, blend in, inspire, comfort, seduce, rebel, and more! 

You’re doing more than putting clothing on your body. You are taking the helm of your own self-expression! 

There is so much that we can’t control in this world. And, if allowed to, the world can easily overrun you, steal your voice, push you around, run your life, and impose an identity on you. But fashion helps us push back and say, “I decide!”. 

The right clothes can help you be confident and go for your dreams. They can help you authentically express yourself (both instinctually and intentionally, as we discussed in Part 2) and live a life full of choice, meaning, joy, and growth!

Ready to learn how to wield the power of fashion? Let’s go!

First Rule of Fashion: The Daily Check In

Your fashion isn’t meant to lock you in a box! It’s meant to give you the tools to express your fabulous, dynamic (that is, changing) self! 

Before you get dressed, ask yourself: who am I today? How am I feeling? Do I feel bombastic and bold? Self-effacing? Mysterious and elegant? Sharp and determined? Quiet and cozy? 

Doing this will not only help you pick the perfect thing to wear. It will help you get to know yourself day by day!

If you are someone who struggles to get in touch with how they are feeling, you might consider using regular iTOVi Scans (paying particular attention to your emotions wheel and any emotional categories repeated in your top 10 products), emotion guides, adjective charts, art, or, for women, cycle-syncing to help you get in touch with your feelings. 

Once you know what you are feeling (or at least have a starting point), ask yourself what colors and fabric cuts (stiff, long, short, flowing, etc) you associate with that feeling. What do you have in your closet that best matches what you’re thinking of? Does it feel “right” when you put it on?

Okay, okay—in addition to how you feel, you may have to consider what you have on the schedule today. But even if you have to put on a stiff uniform and lead a marching band on a day when you’re wanting to be “quiet and cozy”, at least you will know and be able to acknowledge and cater to that part of yourself in the small moments of your day. 

Hopefully though, you can dress according to your feelings! Don’t be surprised that, as you do this, you get more compliments on what you wear! People notice (sometimes consciously, but often unconsciously) when your internal energy is matched by your clothing! It’s a visual effect that we almost always enjoy!

It’s been said that: 

 “The most attractive look is always the most authentic one.”  Molly Binagman

Putting Together Your Wardrobe

Of course, some days you just don’t have anything in your closet that matches your feelings/true essence of the day! And that makes sense. We grow up, we change, we evolve. And sometimes our wardrobe—the arsenal of clothing and accessories we choose from to express ourselves each day—needs to be updated! 

It’s like a painter having access to all the paint types and colors he needs on his palette. 

Stock your wardrobe with clothing that works for you—clothes that flatter your body type, colors that look good on you, styles you like, etc and you’ll find your daily campaign for authentic self-expression through fashion much easier to win!

How do you put together the perfect wardrobe? Let’s start with colors!

Colors

Compatible colors—colors that are compatible with you and with each other—are like the base ingredients for fashion success! 

You need to stock your wardrobe with color options that look great on you and that can be mixed and matched for whatever it is you want to express on any given day. 

It pays to take a little time to dig into what colors work for you. What colors do you gravitate towards? Which colors reflect your personality? Which colors do you know by experience flatter your skin tone, eye color, and hair color? 

Feel free to spend some time “color draping”! Go to a clothing store and hold up different colors next to you before a mirror to see which ones flatter you. Don’t worry about clothing size, cut, or style yet. You’re just looking for your best colors. 

If you want to go deeper, you can delve into color theory (including the colors associated with different seasons and skin tones) or get a professional fashion consultant to help you find your best colors! 

(Author note: Personally, I’ve loved learning about my skin tone and how it is most compatible with “spring” colors. I find jewel tones beautiful. But, when it comes to fashion, they’re just not for me.)

Once you know your color palette, it will help you quickly recognize good items for you when you’re out shopping! Note, however, that once you’ve assembled a color palette for yourself—you don’t have to confine yourself to those colors. Use them to create a baseline, a foundation for your wardrobe that you can then build off of, experiment with, and add to!

Know what always (or usually) works for you. But never stop experimenting and discovering. This is just as much about exploring and discovering yourself as it is about the clothing.

Cuts & Styles

Just as with your colors, it’s important to find a diverse range of clothing styles and cuts that flatter your body. 

Before you go tearing off to the dressing room to figure out what looks good on you by trial and error, take a little time to look at yourself in the mirror. Take some time to appreciate the dimensions of your body. Think about your personality in conjunction with your body. 

As you look at yourself, which features stand out to you? Dare to describe them. Do you have a resolute or gentle profile? Curious or steady eyes? Graceful hands? Sassy hips? Are your legs girlish, flirtatious, determined, or something else? What is your resting face like?

Get to know and love all your parts. And then you’ll know how to highlight various features! It might be a stiff collar to complement your jawline. It might be a sweetheart neckline to complement your figure, a particular cut of jeans for your leg shape, or dainty shoes to show off dainty feet. 

Figuring out what compliments your body may take some trial and error, but it shouldn’t take you too long to figure out what works for you! And, apart from trial and error, you may also use season fashion theory and other online style guides to help you find cuts that flatter your body and express your personality. 

Collaging for Color AND Cut

Another useful tool for fashion self-discovery is collaging. 

Gather pictures of clothing pieces (also accessories) you like. Just go off of instinct. Take screenshots. Cut pictures out of fashion magazines. Follow your gut!

Once you’re ready, throw them together on a collage board and study them. Look for similarities and ask yourself why they appeal to you—is it the soft colors that are drawing your eye? Sharp angles on the sleeves? Chaotic prints? Neat prints that use a lot of straight lines? Notice colors, styles, and moods that repeat themselves. 

Some of the trends you find you will be able to incorporate into your own wardrobe. And others, though you like looking at them, you’ll find they don’t work for you in action. (i.e. you might like looking at silver jewelry and studs, but they clash with your warm skin tone!) That’s okay! That doesn’t mean you can’t use that color, cut, idea, mood, etc in another way—such as in your home decor, interior design, art, or referenced in a minor way in your wardrobe such as in an accessory or a small accent piece. 

Explore & Express—but Never Self-Betray

You can follow your instincts for your fashion choices. Or you can calculate your fashion choices to bring out a certain side of your personality! But don’t ever betray yourself. 

Don’t try to force yourself to fit a certain mold. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need to be or look like something you’re not just to fit in, be noticed, or be treated with dignity and respect. 

Instead of self-betraying out of fear or insecurity, stand up for yourself by being authentic in your fashion choices. As you stay true to yourself, your confidence will grow! Fashion is a great way to learn to express yourself boldly, with unapologetic authenticity. Don’t miss out on the chance to get to know and express the real you!

The Stereotype of Loving Fashion

Yes, there are stereotypes when it comes to being a fashion-conscious person. 

There are people in this world who fixate so much on appearances, that it becomes the substance of most of their conversation! All they seem to think about is how impressive they look to those around them. They spend their time superficially judging the appearance and fashion of others. And they live shallow lives, filled with shallow thinking and shallow relationships flimsily held up by their veneers of “fashionableness”. 

They live to be seen by others and, more importantly, defined by others. 

Don’t get us wrong. We all need to be seen. Expressing yourself and taking up some space is a human need and right. But it feeds our souls to be seen as our true selves, not a cutout out of a fashion magazine. Let fashion be a tool you use for authentic living, not your god. 

Live your life with a growth mindset and you will be much more than a pretty image in the eyes of people around you.  Beneath and even through your fashion, they will detect your personality, the quality of your character—and that will bring you true friends, true respect and admiration, and attract those with whom you can have authentic, joyous, life-enhancing relationships. 

What’s more, as you express your true self you will be a gift to those around you who can benefit from your energy! And you will inspire the hesitant who need an example of authentic, self-confidence to follow.

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