Wardrobe Development

Clothing That Defines You Totally

Do you have a piece of clothing that defines you totally in your wardrobe? I sure hope so.  Ever since high school, when I discovered the incredible power of clothing, many pieces of clothing have defined my essence.  I’m not sure where I’d have been without the security those early items provided me. Can you relate to this?

This amazing woven fabric, was made into a one-of-a-kind scarf by menswear designer Jhane Barnes. The unique use of this fabric [it was manufactured for the production of sweaters] continues to make this a piece of clothing that defines me totally. Do you have a piece of clothing that defines you totally?

Clothing that defines you totally, if you’re lucky, may also be your most favorite and memorable of all wardrobe items.  In my early adulthood, I fell in love with the designs of menswear designer extraordinaire, Jhane Barnes.  I loved her collection so much, that I was eventually hired as her outside consultant, my very first consulting client. So many items of Jhane’s that I owned over many years defined me totally. I still have a couple of special items of clothing that define me totally. One piece is a scarf made in the pattern that she named Windswept. I loved the rustic quality of the coloration. The pattern made me feel like I was free in the forest.  Believe it or not, another item is a highly-coveted bath robe. She made so few of these, that they were collector’s items by her diehard fans. I still own both pieces.

This Jhane Barnes bathrobe still gets a lot of wear at home. On cool nights, I even wear it out to the hot tub. It’s a favorite old clothing item that continues to define me totally.

These two pieces, as well as a Missoni shirt are among the oldest items of clothing that I still own. If you were to carbon date these items, they’d all be about 25 years old. Yikes! When you own clothing that defines you totally, you’ll very likely have a hard time letting go of those pieces.  Those pieces define me totally in that they are very colorful, highly creative, masculine without being forceful, and are unusual.

Some seven years ago, while excavating my client Scott’s closet, I discovered that he, too, owned the same Missoni shirt! Not quite twins [he will even deny that we ever took this photo!], we both have a deep sense of creativity and playfulness. I have a feeling that we will take a fresh photo this year, still in our matched shirts. In a way, this adds new sentiment to the very oldest piece of clothing in my wardrobe.

Clothing that defines you totally doesn’t have to be nearly half as old as you are though. Believe me. I have far more recent clothing items that do the job of defining me totally for who I am today.

It’s not that the three oldest pieces of clothing still in my wardrobe are outmoded.  They still represent a chunk of my present-day personality. But, time marches on. We grow, evolve, and even transform. It doesn’t mean that we necessarily abandon who we have been. But, the old gives way to the new.  If we are careful, thoughtful, and intentional, brand new items can also be clothing that defines you totally.

Behold, my flower-pin festooned Dolce & Gabbana jean jacket. This more recent piece of clothing defines me totally. Have you done something special to personalize a clothing item so that it defines you totally?

One item in my wardrobe absolutely took years to find. Even the writer of that amazing ozy.com profile about me, from a few weeks back, took note of it. I really wanted a blue jean jacket and it was like being on a quest until I found it. This Dolce & Gabbana jacket fits me like a glove fits perfectly on a hand. The lines accentuate my shoulders. I’m a short little guy. But, in this jacket, I feel my physique, and power. I feel like a sexy guy with overt sensuality and feel confident and walk tall in that jacket. I feel happy. Last year, I made a slight addition to the jacket by adding a crochet daffodil pin to it. I got the pin in New York at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s fashion exhibition. Altogether, I feel like a citizen of the world.

I love all of my eyewear pieces. But, this one seems to garner all the attention. Really, I don’t mind one bit because it’s the most “out there” pair of frames I own. They absolutely define me to a T.

Another favorite item is more of an accessory, except that, for me, it’s an essential and very special item.  Indeed, my Mykita eyeglasses define me totally.  I treated myself to them like it was love at first sight [please don’t groan at the pun!]. These glasses are a big part of my persona now. They are more than a memento of a super lovely trip to Zermatt, Switzerland. These specs remind me of who I am today: a sophisticated guy who’s bold and on the edge.

Do you have a piece of clothing that defines you totally, or even an accessory?  I think it’s a great exercise to examine the items in your wardrobe that define you totally. Ask yourself why they define you. In answering the question, you’ll glean clues about who you were, who you want to be, and who you are. This is a practical and fun way of learning more about yourself.  You don’t need to have anything old enough to carbon-date. Even if you do, and you realize it no longer serves you, it’s an opportunity to embrace the new you. You do that by identifying a piece of clothing that defines you totally, only a new one.

Joseph Rosenfeld helps successful Silicon Valley technology entrepreneurs and executives discover their personal brands and design their personal styles.  Get Joseph’s free report that helps you know “6 Secrets to Success in Silicon Valley.” Get details about Joseph’s proven program that transforms your life through personal brand and style development.

My role, as a personal brand and style strategist, is that of a storyteller. I learn about a person’s personality and strengths, translate that into an appropriate personal style aesthetic, and help each client to visually and non-verbally tell her or his story with ease and authenticity.