What You Wear Matters : Style =Virtue
What You Wear Matters. #WYWM
Your style is a VIRTUE.
If you have ever been accused of “trying too hard” or felt guilty for wanting to dress well, listen up, this post is for you.
My story starts when I began staying at home with my first born. Up until that point, I knew what I liked, what looked good on me and without much thought, I created my own style effortlessly.
But once I started staying home, it felt like a waste to get up and get dressed in the clothes I loved wearing every single day.
Not to mention I’d been given some strange looks and snide comments for trying, so I let myself feel guilty for wanting to look nice even when “just staying at home.”
I let practicality and others’ opinions win the day and I stopped wearing what I wanted and took on the “mom uniform.”
I wish I had not and here’s why.
Over time, it affected how I felt about myself and how I saw myself.
At one point, I had a legit event to attend with other adults that weren’t my family. (Very exciting, right?)
I went to my closet to decide what to wear and to my horror, I discovered I didn’t even own a dress.
How could this have happened to me, the girl who once used to plan out her wardrobe a week in advance?
The same girl who had her closet color-coded (in descending order from darkest to lightest colors)?
Where had my inner super-prep gone?
With church being super casual and being a SAHM, my style had snuck out the back door without so much as a goodbye.
Not even a "Dear John" note.
Up until that point, I didn’t realize how important our clothes are.
Which leads me to my first point in illustrating how much our style matters.
Your style communicates who you are to the world.
The way we dress lets everyone know something about us just by looking at us.
What does our appearance say about us?
Are we neat?
Are we casual?
In my case over the last several years, is she homeless?
We judge everything from our chicken bouillon at the grocery store to our makeup by the packaging it is sold in. We are no different. The old adage “the proof is in the pudding,” has been replaced in some sense with updated version that says “the proof is in the packaging.”
You can tell a lot about a person in the way they dress.
So….what is it that you want the world to know about you?
My message to the world went off a cliff. It went from “ I’m a smart Sunday brunch kinda gal,” (Think mimosas and bellinis) to “I need a shower, to use the restroom without an audience and a three month nap.”
I went from having a standing appointment for my brows at Sothy’s to being jealous of squirrels. (You know, the whole hibernation, eat and sleep for six months in a dark room thing… that sounded glorious to me. )
So what are your clothes saying to the world?
I am not telling you what that message should be. You get to decide that.
But I AM telling you that whatever the message is, it should be the one you want to communicate to the world.
You can be fancy or plain, practical or frou-frou, slippers or wearing 5 inch Louboutin’s but just make sure it’s who you are.
And just why is it important to make sure your style matches who you are? This is where it gets good….
That is not some fairy tale I concocted to justify my tastes.
Learn these words…”Enclothed Cognition”- this phrase is your new BFF.
But what is “Enclothed Cognition” exactly?
This relatively new concept says the clothes that someone wears affects their performance.
As in, we are better at whatever we do when we feel our clothes match who we are.
If I had only known that the clothes I wore could have helped me score better on tests, who knows where I would be by now??
See, there were these studies done in 2012 by some psychologists.
They offered participants an article of clothing, a lab coat I believe, and had the participants wear them for certain tasks.
But they told different groups that the coat was something different.
To one group, it was a doctor’s coat. To another group it was a painter’s coat.
The differences in the scores on their tasks were significant.
That what we wear affects who we are in those clothes.
(Confession: I am a little ashamed that it took me this long to stumble on to this and even more ashamed that it took learning of this to make me feel like I had justification for dressing the way I want.)
This isn’t some self serving salesperson saying this. #Science is saying this. That’s right girls, we now have reasons to get out of those sweats and look fabulous. Without feeling guilty. Break out the bellinis.
I need to offer props to two of my favorite podcasts for bringing this to my attention. Everyone should check these podcasts out. The Life School Podcast and The School of Self Image Podcast. Game changers. Thank you Leane Key for introducing me to Brooke Castillo.
Specifically episode 401 of The Life Coach Podcast with Brooke Castillo where she hosts Tonya Leigh of the SOSI podcast. You get both of them in one podcast!! Tonya articulated this concept of enclothed cognition so well. She was explaining how our clothes affect what we do, which in turn affects how we feel, which in turn affects our choices which leads to our life's results. When we sit around and binge a show chowing down on a bag of Cheetos, chances are we aren’t lounging in Chanel suits. And if we WERE wearing Chanel tweed to beat around the house, the chances of us sitting on the couch and taking out a bag of Cheetos is slim. Of course we all know that we aren’t going to sit around in Chanel eating Cheetos and binging our favorite show, but why didn’t I make this connection earlier??
I have always been an advocate for dressing well and known in my heart what she was saying is true, but when she said it that way, it blew my mind. I was like “Yaaassssss!!! That’s so true!”
Seeing this idea in a whole new light has led me to take action.
I have begun throwing out all of my “Cheetos” clothes, as I have now dubbed them.
No more clothes that don’t help me be the person I want to be.
And as I thought about it, I realized this concept resonates so deeply with me in the first place.
This idea is actually WHY I got into this in the first place.
I didn’t want to have to choose between practical and pretty. I knew there was a better way than having to choose between office clothes and sweats.
And now, thanks to the pandemic (words you don’t see in that order very often), the rest of the world knows what I’m talking about.
You can only slum it for so long in comfort clothes until you start to feel like..well, that you are slumming it.
What would we feel like if we only ate “comfort” foods?
Same goes for comfort clothes.
I am not saying that yoga pants don’t have their place. But when we do put them on, it should be the best pair we can afford and we are doing it on purpose, not because we don’t care about how we look.
So, say it with me now…. “Enclothed cognition.” These are the words you’ll utter when and if anyone questions your new (or in my case, old) style.
Not only does our style and clothes affect how we live, it also affects the life of the person on the other side of our clothes.
Most have never stopped to ask “who is making this?”
I hadn’t until a few years ago.
We rarely stop and recognize that slave labor and child labor still exists in much of the world, especially in the garment industry.
For anyone who is truly concerned with slave and child labor, their focus is on the present day and what we can do to end this inhumane practice.
Clothing that is “Made in the USA” doesn’t use slave labor or child labor.
While that may seem obvious, what it really means is that child and slave labor IS a problem with many brands that are made overseas in countries with few to no regulations.
Out of sight, out of mind.
Since it doesn’t happen here, we don’t think about it happening other places.
This is a quick, but interesting piece on slave and forced labor in the fashion industry.
The Clean Clothes Campaign also lays out many of the abuses that occur in the overseas manufacturing of clothes.
So many issues you can read about including unsafe workplaces, poverty wages, unclear supply chains, no job security, waste and pollution, gender discrimination, exploitation of immigrants and the list goes on.
It’s eye-opening to read what we are supporting when we buy clothes made overseas.
But what can I do??
And I know you are thinking “What can I do?” EVERYTHING is made overseas, its so hard to find “Made in the USA” clothing.
You aren’t wrong.
We manufacture only 2%of our clothing in this country. TWO percent.
That’s down from 95% in 1960 and 50% in 1996.
So this won’t be an overnight solution, but we CAN bring manufacturing back, one garment at a time.
And that’s how we do it, just focus on your next garment.
No one is expected to do a complete overhaul.
I haven’t been able to overhaul my entire wardrobe but I have been working on it and I am getting there.
Just take it one garment at a time.
Look for “Made in the USA” the next time you go shopping.
Sign up for our newsletter and get our “Made in the USA” Shopping and Resource guide to find other Made in America clothing, shoes and accessories.
Also, help create demand by asking the salespeople wherever you shop for Made in the USA clothing. :-)
And that, gorgeous gals, is how your style affects not only your life but the lives of those who make our clothes.
And doesn’t it feel good to know that we are not only improving our lives, but the lives of others with the clothes we wear?
If you have any thoughts on how dressing well affects you or those who make your clothes, we’d love to hear about it in the comment section! And also what you think of that podcast, seriously good stuff. Go check it out!