Debunking 9 myths about style
Whether we realize it or not, most of us women have ingrained beliefs about style. Beliefs we don't even think about on most days, but that affect how we dress and present ourselves to the world. Beliefs that were formed from the time we were little girls and continue to influence our thinking and actions well into adulthood.
Where did these beliefs come from, anyway, and why did they form such a permanent place in our thinking?
Most of the time, these beliefs were shaped by society, family, magazines, religion or other environmental sources. And when I hear women speak these "beliefs," I cringe. I cringe because I know there is so much more potential for all of us women if we can breakthrough these myths.
So let's dive in right in and start knocking each of these 9 myths down! Keep tally as you read them... how many of these myths do you believe?
Style Myth #1: Fashion is only for thin and tall women.
Truth: Style is accessible to you, no matter your size.
No doubt our society shaped our belief around this one. As a child of the 80's, I grew up in the get fit era, where there was a complete obsession with exercising and achieving the body of your dreams. The "Big Five" original models we looked up to were Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington, Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, and Claudia Schiffer. We wanted to be like them and the boys lusted after them, so naturally, we came to believe these women were the definition of beauty and style. "High fashion" style in magazines was represented only by women who had the exact same body type: tall and thin. Reinforcing our belief that in order to be stylish, you also had to also have these same measurements.
It's hard to imagine that only in the last several years have retailers started to incorporate models that actually look like women as we all know it. While we have made progress, we still have so much work to do on that front! Many designers still don't offer plus or tall options - which is a huge missed opportunity to connect women to more style choices.
Essentially, this limited belief boils down to that your body is the problem. When in fact, your body is exactly NOT the problem. Our beliefs about our bodies are the problem!
Because I have clients of all sizes, I hear this myth weaved into so many of my conversations, especially when it comes to talking about style challenges. "I can't wear that because I'm tall." "I can't wear that because I have a belly." "I can't, I can't, I can't!" Essentially, this limited belief boils down to that your body is the problem. When in fact, your body is exactly NOT the problem. Our beliefs about our bodies are the problem!
What I know from my experience is that style is a not a size you buy on the rack. Style is within you. Style is about finding the shapes that work for you and your personality. It's about creating and presenting the woman you want to be to the world. And it's ridiculous that women should be made to feel less than because of their size. Which is why it's such a joy for me to be a part of women's transformation from complete and utter frustration with their bodies to joy and celebration of their bodies!
Style Myth #2: Wearing black is the only way to make me look slimmer.
Truth: Wearing black hides my personality.
I know what you're going to say... "But, Ellie, black really does make me look slimmer!" And I won't argue that it's true. Dark colors do have slimming effects. But does that mean black should be the only color you wear? A resounding, "No!" And let me remind you that the shape of an item of clothing has even more to do with how it flatters your body. Would you still think you look slim in a baggy black dress? Probably not.
Black clothing has become a crutch. We've formed our style around a color as a means to an end.
Let's get honest for a moment. If size or achieving slimming effects was not a factor, what color would you wear? And if you still say "Black!", well, that's ok. And I honor that. But I venture to guess that there are other colors that when you wear them, you light up. Your skin glows. Others compliment you or say how it makes your eyes look so vibrant. What I'm saying is black clothing has become a crutch. We've formed our style around a color as a means to an end. As a way to slim our bodies, not to honor what we really love. And I can bet that the way you carry yourself when you wear what you love will leave a much better impression.
Style Myth #3: Style means keeping up with the latest fashion trends.
Truth: Style has nothing to do with fashion.
Style is within you. It's unique to you. And it has nothing to do with keeping up with fashion trends. Let's be honest, keeping up with all of the trends is pretty exhausting and not all are going to work for us.
Style is a hint into our personality. It shows someone who you are without having to speak.
Carolina Herrera once said, "I don't like trends. They tend to make everybody look the same." I couldn't agree more! Style is a deeply personal expression of your inner being. It's what people see in us before they talk to us. It's a hint into our personality. It shows someone who you are without having to speak. And while there is nothing wrong with adopting fashion trends (I do it myself!), trends are most certainly not the definition of a stylish woman.
Style Myth #4: Fashion = uncomfortable.
Truth: You can be fashionable + comfortable.
Somewhere along the way, we started believing that sweatpants = comfort, and getting dressed = miserable.
Oh boy, does this one make me cringe! Somewhere along the way, we started believing that sweatpants = comfort, and getting dressed = miserable. In 2020, this myth was busted more than any other year in fashion history as work from home loungewear became the norm. Retailers created more sweaters and knits and sneaker styles than ever before. In fact, Lyst, the global fashion search platform, recently noted in its quarterly ranking of the hottest brands that, for the very first time, Nike had come out on top rather than a luxury fashion brand.
What I find working with women to discover their personal style is that once they find it, they are actually excited to get dressed! They feel more themselves and more excited to engage in the world. And guess what? They report that they are not only comfortable physically, they are more comfortable in their own skin.
Style Myth #5: What I wear has zero impact on my life.
Truth: What I wear has an impact on the way I feel, and thus, how I interact with the world.
Even before the global pandemic hit, I noticed that days when I was working from home, I felt more sluggish, unproductive and distracted. Perhaps it was that "home" triggered something in my mind as a place of relaxation and rest. But it also had a lot to do what with I was wearing. At some point early in my career, I started getting dressed for the day, even on work from home days. I got up, got dressed, put on a little makeup, and did my hair. Essentially, I got ready for the day as if I was going to work at an office, even if I didn't dress up as much as normal. I couldn't believe what a difference this change made! I was instantly more motivated to tackle my day. I felt more focus, more productive, and just more myself.
Fast forward to years later, and I come across some research that proves exactly why I noticed a difference in my day based on what I wore. Brain science shows us that when we feel something, our brain activates and sends chemicals throughout our bodies. So for example, when we put on clothes we love or feel good in (say, a color we love or a shirt that makes you feel fierce, or jeans that hug you in just the right places!), the brain activates and sends good chemicals throughout our bodies.
Now, let's flip this and say you put on something you don't love. You feel frumpy, dumpy, lumpy... just meh. Your brain notices this feeling and activates, sending bad chemicals throughout your body. Avoiding these bad chemicals in your body is exactly why when I guide women through a closet detox. I tell them to remove anything they don't love or feel good in! We have no room (or our lives!) in our closets for this kind of toxicity!
Because science has shown that what we wear has an impact our behavior, our mood, personality, confidence, interpersonal connections, productivity and so much more.
All of this to say that brain science has uncovered that how we feel in our clothes has a real impact on our day. Have you noticed this, too? I bet you have. Think back to a day when you wore something you felt really confident in. Did you interact more positively with your family or friends or co-workers that day? Did you have renewed energy to tackle your to-do list? Were you in an unusually good mood? I can bet your answers to all these questions were likely yes. Why? Because science has shown that what we wear has an impact our behavior, our mood, personality, confidence, interpersonal connections, productivity and so much more.
So does getting dressed matter? You bet it does!
Style Myth #6: The color of the year is what you should wear.
Truth: The best color to wear is the one that looks good on you.
Remember what I said about following trends? Yep, it applies here, too. Stick to what works for you and your skin tone if you want to achieve real style. Not sure what colors are best on you? All of my clients get their colors done professionally, and learn the 35 best colors for them, as well as their best neutrals and metals. This information is truly life-changing!
Style Myth #7: I need to dress to please others, or fit a mold.
Truth: I dress to please myself.
From the time we were little girls, we were told there are certain ways to dress. Wear twirly skirts, wear pink, wear sequins. And this only continues as we grow into women: wear heels to look feminine, don't wear baggy clothes, show cleavage, and on and on.
Our work environments can also cause problems. We have no clue to wear and we feel an immense pressure to fit in, so we just buy what everyone else is buying to keep the status quo. We buy the same shirt styled in the department store window or featured on the homepage of the retailers' site. It works just fine to meet our needs and feel appropriate, but we end up losing ourselves in the process.
And don't even get me started on what is appropriate for moms! So many opinions, right? Cover up, don't show skin, don't wear a bikini, don't spend time on yourself, spend time and energy on your kids.
The work I do with my clients is removing all of the "shoulds" and tuning into what they really love.
With all of these standards and rules and norms, you can see how quickly it gets confusing. The work I do with my clients is removing all of the "shoulds" and tuning into what they really love.
Do you love wearing bold colors but it means you'll stand out in the sea of gray in your law firm? Do it.
Do you love wearing classic styles instead of following the latest fashion trends? Do it.
Do you love mixing patterns and being bold but are afraid you'll be too "out there?" Do it.
Do you love wearing bikinis but are afraid the other moms at the pool will stare and judge? Do it.
Whatever makes you feel most like you is what we are going for. And when I can help women channel that inner version of themselves on the outside, it's amazing to see how they light up. How a weight has been lifted. How they show up with so much more confidence knowing they are shouting to the world, "this is me!"
Style Myth #8: I need a lot of clothes to have a good wardrobe.
Truth: Getting creative allows you to do more with less.
Ladies, if there's one thing I can impart on you, it's that more is definitely not more! On any given day, the average adult makes roughly 35k decisions. And as you can imagine, our cognitive capacity gets depleted with each one.
Now put this into the context of walking into your closet each morning to get dressed. If you've ever had a feeling of overwhelm in your closet or at the thought of shopping, inundated with choices, you may be experiencing paralysis analysis. Which means that having too many choices can actually make it harder to simply make a choice.
While we may think that having lots of options is a great thing when it comes to our wardrobe, it's actually detrimental. Having too many options causes us to just give up and make no decision at all. Or just pick whatever is easiest or our go-to.
Just by getting creative with what you have - it can make it feel like you have a huge wardrobe.
I am a huge advocate of keeping only what you love in your closet, and then making it work harder for you. When I help women buy new clothes or style what they have in their closet, I show them how to wear it in at least three ways that work for their life. Just by getting creative with what you have - it can make it feel like you have a huge wardrobe. When in reality you have a manageable one with tons of flexibility.
Style Myth #9: Investing time, money, and energy on style is selfish.
Truth: Style is an act of self-care.
As women - and especially moms - we tend to want to take care of everyone else but ourselves. We somewhere learned that taking care of ourself is selfish. We should give, give, give, until we have nothing left for those around us. We shouldn't spend money on ourselves, only on our kids or partner. And where does this leave us? You know, because you've felt it. Feeling completely exhausted and needing a break from everyone and everything. Not very helpful, is it?
Watching women's mood change, their personality shine through, and their energy for their work and personal life increase as a result of defining and realizing their personal style is reason #1 why I believe that style is truly self-care.
What you wear will change your mood for the better or for the worse. Science has backed this up as I've mentioned above. If you have the power to alter your mood and your energy for life - simply by what you choose to put on for the day - why wouldn't you do it? It's one of the easiest self-care things you can do for yourself!
Everyone deserves to feel 100% comfortable and confident in their own skin every. single. day.
Plus, when you work with a trained expert like myself, who can help you find styles that fit and flatter your body as it is now, you feel more comfortable in your own skin. And everyone deserves to feel 100% comfortable and confident in their own skin every. single. day.
How many of these style myths do you/did you believe? And how many are you ready to rewrite the script on?
My passion in life is helping women become the woman they always wanted to be through their style - and to feel 100% confident in their own skin. I love to help women define their style, and then realize it through revamping their wardrobe to fit their personal style and their life. If you're ready for a style transformation, let's talk! Set up a free 30-minute style consultation on my calendar to get started.
Hi, I'm so glad you're here! I'm a Personal Virtual Stylist and owner of Style Decoded. I'm a Midwest born fashion lover on a mission to help women show up with more authenticity and alignment at work and in their businesses through their style, and feel 100% confident in their own skin every day. Styling is my passion but it hasn't always been my job. I spent 20 years of my career in client service, advertising, developing brands, blogging, podcasting, and creating marketing and social social strategies for my clients, ranging from Fortune 500 giants to individuals building their personal brand online. To say I know a thing or two about marketing and client service is an understatement! Now, I love teaching women how to define and own their unique personal brand through style.
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