Of many firsthand facts that I know after 30 years of fashion and personal styling experience, no one wants to admit to being style stuck. Dressing seems to come as second nature to everyone because we all have to dress. It gives us a false sense of security that because we dress ourselves, we clearly don’t need help. But, how wrong that false assumption really is. Instead, a good many people are truly style stuck. And it sucks. Admitting that we have fallen into a personal style rut is a bit like admitting to a form of failure. Ouch! I know that tinge of pain, that slight burning feeling that you feel when you think that being style stuck is akin to failing.
How is it possible to get to a place where your style stagnates? And how is it even possible that being style stuck leads to fashion freedom? I pose the questions and I’ve also got the answers!
Based on what I have experienced with countless clients over the years, people’s lives become busy and complicated. Even the style and fashion-conscious person often makes compromises because the calendar places many demands on one’s time and energy. In fact, I wrote a comprehensive dress style white paper with attorneys and c-suite executives in mind because they cannot put effort into anything that is not time-effective. Days turn into weeks and even years. It’s hard to stay up on trends when you’re climbing that ladder to the heights of success.
If I had a non-fashion and style-related corporate gig, I’m sure that I’d also compromise the same way. With a big job, so many hours in the day, and other obligations and responsibilities, something’s got to give. It’s easy to advance in your career without carrying your style forward to match your growth and success.
I see it all the time, even in the case of my wonderful other-half. All the way back to the beginning of our relationship, I immediately accepted him as he showed up. I did not want to take him on as a “client project.” I just wanted to relate with him and see how our compatibility would grow. Nothing about him needed to change for me to be happy with him. From time to time, he asked for feedback about his outfit choices, and he took my good-natured ribbing in the form of non-verbal responses. After enough times that those faces sent him back to the closet for better coordinating clothes, he saw the light.
Then, one day, he came to me, invisible hat-in-hand, and asked for my help. He was style stuck.
I offered him the same royal treatment I offer all of my clients. Helping you to be exactly who you are describes my deeper promise to my clients. After all, as my other-half, he deserved the best I have to give. I told him this is my profession, and that if I’d help him, given our relationship status, not to treat this like it’s my hobby. He showed me and the process total respect.
In the end, he freely allowed me to do what I do best to help him achieve a style transformation. This speaks to how being style stuck leads to fashion freedom. The mere acknowledgement offers an opportunity to learn about yourself and grow so that your sense of self, and your style, catches up to your success.
I realize that this sounds fairly heady for something that seems so on-the-surface. But, this is exactly why people have such a hard time admitting to being style stuck. The stigma that comes from having challenges with taking care of ourselves has to change and actually end.
We need trainers to help us work out and maximize our time and to become fit and strong. We need to consult with nutritionists, apps, and doctors to help us understand how to feed ourselves the right foods. Plus, we need coaches to help guide us along our career paths, and even people to teach us how to manage our time.
It turns out that once my partner allowed me to step in as his personal stylist, he then felt free to work on developing his style. Otherwise, he was style stuck. It passively happened to him because he didn’t put active energy into working on his style the way he put it into his actual work. It’s the kind of thing that creeps up without realizing that it’s something to work on and overcome.
Today, my partner receives a lot of positive attention. At the office, colleagues have quietly taken notice of his evolving look. They notice his eyewear upgrade. And the quality of his latest shirt acquisitions. Once in a while, he finds an occasion to wear a sport coat — just because he wants to. He looks more like a friendly and creative team leader, and this directly relates to his operational work style. It’s not just dressing well, it’s feeling comfortable in the clothes you wear. This can only help him promote his abilities as he continues on his career path. This impacts his growth opportunities within the firm, as well as how he attracts new clients.
Of particular note, his clients also see a shift in his appearance, and they like it. To them, he looks like the quality of his work product. Plus, he looks like a valuable external part of the various client teams of which he is an integral part. His work product and compassionate disposition are crucial to the actual work he does. So, the way he literally appears in front of his clients supports the way he naturally behaves. In no way does his fashion sense masquerade any professional shortcomings. He shows up looking equally as spiffy as his level of professionalism.
It’s so much fun watching him receive compliments on his eyewear, for instance. Or a beloved hat that he chose all on his own. He gets more compliments on that hat! That recognition is special because it reinforces that people notice him. Even more than a self-confidence boost, he understands that he is connecting with people. It could be a colleague or a wine shop merchant in the neighborhood.
In all cases, his appealing personal style emanates his inner energy, and people he encounters everywhere tap into it. He takes pride in his updated style. But, it’s more than pride in his style. From the outside in, that sense of pride, and the favorable interactions that come from it, remind him about being his very best self from the inside out. This is what fashion freedom is all about.