Creating a Human, Approachable Style
We've all felt it. Perfect girl walks into the room, coordinated to the hilt in a color-matched outfit that falls in graceful obedience past her well-heeled ankles to designer toe-tips. Before we know it, our self-confidence plummets to the level of those designer shoes; it only takes about half a second to feel frumpy and way out-of-date.
When this happens it is up to us to take care of our own feelings, but there is an element to the best kind of style that hardly anyone talks about in our mad dash to be the top of our game.
BECOMING APPROACHABLE IN PERSONAL STYLE
I call it "the Human Factor." Working to create a style that leaves people free to talk, to feel comfortable, and to feel their best while speaking or interacting with me. Of course, we are not talking of being unattractive or frumpy on purpose, but intentionally creating a style that speaks humanity rather than being the sort of person that leaves everyone either bowing in soul-sucking obeisance or running for their life.
The excessive need for attention or perfection locks up the ability to relax and let other people relax around us.
There's a difference between someone who is wearing an outfit because they think it looks attractive or they feel good in it, and the person wearing the exact same thing who is playing the "Need to Impress" game. As someone who pays a great deal of attention to what I wear, I keep out an eye or two to make sure style isn't taking over how I live my life.
1. WHAT KIND OF LIFE DO YOU HAVE?
Someone who is constantly trying dress for a life they don't have or people they don't care about, (and probably never will know) can hardly enjoy life for what it is: in the moment. Sure, Olivia Palermo's style is killer, but I don't have her life, and she doesn't have mine. I frequently learn and enjoy some of her style, but our lives are vastly different.
There's no reason not to borrow from each other's inspirations, and every reason to create a look that works with your own life. Style should never get in the way of living life. It can enhance life, fit around life, and make it more beautiful, but it shouldn't dictate how we live it.
If I am the sort of person who can't enjoy having the windows rolled down on a spring evening because it will mess up my hair, then my need for style has just entered the overkill zone. Someone else might not actually enjoy the feeling of wind and hair whipping around them, so of course they can keep the windows up if they like, I just think it's a mistake to avoid doing something you enjoy because it might be messy. This is one of the many reasons I would never marry a prince. Hats off to Kate and Megan for posessing the necessary grace to deal with having to look perfect all the time
Practical tip: true style gives you the confidence to live in the live you have. Rather than simply copying celebrity and glam trends, find a style in what makes up your everyday. If you're not a model or A-list celebrity it's likely better to list the 3-4 major things you do each week and figure out what kind of clothes fit the lifestyle and make it fun.
2. YOU CAN HAVE MORE THAN ONE STYLE
Many of us think we only have one look but most people actually have 2-3 varying styles they are drawn toward. One of my friends likes a grunge, garage-band look, but also wears an feminine-sophisticate look. Another pulls together a French chic/wildflowers and boho-gypsy look that works beautifully.
I personally go for a monochromatic, edgy-sophisticate look that speaks power and elegance to me and influences a great deal of my choices. Weirdly, I also adore a sort of African boho look: wild prints, hoop earrings, and color-soaked styles along with the occasional trend like ripped jeans and graphic tees. Some of my favorite outfits convert to fit a few different profiles. I like pulling on a pair of jeans and turtle neck with leather sneakers and going for casual and sporty. If I go out that evening, a fedora and lace-up boots add a saucy twist to it, or my red beret and flats turn it into French chic.
The possibilities are endless, and basically all you have to do is change your shoes or accessory. How boring it would be to always have to look romantic, modern, classic, boho, or retro. The advantage of anyone who stops looking down their nose at anything other than their decade, is that there is a lot to learn from every fashion period. Even if it was ugly. Human beings require change to grow and thrive, and so I feel it's a mistake to always stay the same.
We don't have to pick only one, boxed-in style to follow with a tidy, religious devotion. Experiment! Grow!
Practical tip: find a few alternate styles you like and chances are it will be much easier to figure out what to wear to enjoy the life you have. It's pretty surprising how pieces from different styles can flow together to create a unique "only you" look.
BECOME AN APPROACHABLE PERSON
I sometimes deliberately leave things up to the wind and weather in getting dressed, which basically means that not every detail is perfect. I don't want to be the new, uncomfortable and stiff shoe every time, but rather someone who can walk with other people in whatever life situation they are in. There's a time for perfection, and a time to relax.
We all relax around people who feel real. Here's where it gets tricky though, because after reading an article like this it's tempting to get all self-righteous and judge the people who always "have it together." In reality, they're likely just better at getting dressed than we are and probably did something this morning like dumped sour milk into their coffee.
We're all human and in the end it's our responsibility to find that in someone, and make it possible for people to find it in us. When perfect girl walks in it's hard not to shut down and go find our own kind, but this is a hasty and unwise response. Part of being an approachable person also means we approach people. We talk, open conversations. Learn new things. Expand our horizons.
The person we talk to could be a snob, or they could be our next, well-dressed friend. And either way, you confronted that fear of rejection. Each time you do that, that fear shrinks a little and eventually you'll be someone recognized as true and authentic, and secure.
Go get 'em,