The Power of What You Wear

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Why do I have a capsule wardrobe? Why do I think so much about what I'm going to wear when I spend most days working alone at home?

Because I learnt that clothes have the power to change your mood, to lift your spirits, allow you to express yourself, and be the best version of yourself.

I used to watch Trinny and Susannah's What Not To Wear (how I loved that programme!) and was so touched each week when the person receiving the makeover was always moved to tears as their new look was revealed. They always said they felt like a new woman, they felt like themselves for the first time in years, their confidence was restored.

I remember one episode in particular. They worked with a group of OAPs, encouraging them to shop in places like New Look or H&M - young people's shops. Every single one of these ladies was unsure at first but, once they'd relaxed, all had a blast.

Trinny and Susannah convinced them that they didn't have to shop in 'old lady shops', they could wear clothes meant for younger generations, that is was OK to wear clothes that they liked rather than clothes they felt they should wear. They encouraged them to wear colour, texture, and to experiment with different shapes.

By the end of the programme there wasn't a dry eye in the house. And do you know what? They didn't look like a bunch of old ladies trying to look young. They looked happy, well dressed, and at ease with themselves.

The message was clear - wear what you love.

And I do. In truth I'm more confident with my style now than I ever have been. I know what suits my body, what I feel good in, and I was tickled the other day when I realised that how I dress now is exactly how I'd wanted to dress back in college.

Limited funds meant I had very few clothes back then. I remember two pairs of very boring jeans, one black maxi skirt, and three long sleeved tops, a few vest tops (that I would never wear without something over the top lest someone see how little I had in the boob department) and several black t-shirts. A black shirt pilfered from my older brother. And a pair of DMs.

I realise now that back in college I was already living with a capsule, albeit not through choice.

I hankered after a pair of vintage 501s, not the straight leg stonewashed Pepe jeans I had, does that brand still exist? I wanted a selection of long flowing skirts, a distressed denim jacket, cute floral summer dresses that I could team with my DMs - it was DMS everywhere, all the time.

The floral shirt dress I found recently would've sent college me into a spin, the black ra-ra dress from H&M would've been worn until it fell to pieces (with black tights - even in the summer - lest someone notice my pale legs).

It makes me smile, and cringe slightly, to think of myself back then - shy, unsure of myself, horribly self conscious when out of my comfort zone. But even then I was aware that clothes had a huge impact on the way I felt about myself. I always felt my best when in my favourite outfit.

I ventured into a few charity shops during my college years but I was too shy to have a good rummage, I never bought anything. I imagine I would've found some amazing pieces, as I do today, had I really looked.

I'm not interested in looking young with what I wear, I'm not trying to disguise my age (despite dressing how I would've liked to as an art student). I don't want to look young, I want to feel good and I do this by wearing clothes that I think best suit me and my personality. I wear the things I'm drawn to, the things that make me smile, things I love.

I used to think that giving a lot of thought to how I dressed was shallow, but I've learnt it's a form of self care, a form of expression, and a form of armour - don't mess with me, this floral shirt dress give me super powers!

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25 comments

  1. You are so right, what we wear affects us deeply. I am very influenced by colour and dress each day depending on what colour I am 'in the mood for' - the wrong colour can spoil may day! I don't follow fashion but do like classic lines and natural fibre - I have a very small wardrobe but prefer like you to wear something I love twice rather than something that 'will do'. Lately I have ventured into charity shops and on to ebay and had some fabulous finds, it's so much fun too. I do look forward to your posts because you clearly enjoy your clothes and it's fun seeing how you put things together.

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    1. When asked what my favourite colour is I always reply 'it depends on my mood', how can anyone pick just one colour?
      I love wearing my favourite clothes, I don't see the point in having loads that simply don't get worn. It does mean that I wear things out quite often though. My jeans are practically falling to pieces!
      I'm glad you've discovered the joys of charity shops, most of my favourite clothes are charity shop finds.

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  2. A great piece of writing, Hazel.
    Funny how I'm a decade older than you but some of my student clothes sounded very similar - Docs, lots of black and yes, I had the 1950s 501s (we used to catch a coach to Leicester where there was American Levis emporium as cheap as chips).
    We are judged on how we look (I'd be a poor vintage seller if I wore many modern clothes) and clothes are a real ice breaker, too. Its a rare day I'll go out and not be approached by a stranger commenting on my outfit. A great way of making friends. xxx

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    1. Thank you.
      I love the sound of the Levis emporium, what I would've given to have access to one back then! I wore black for years after leaving college, I had to learn how to wear colour again. Black will always hold a special place in my heart though :)
      People often comment on my shoes, and the amount of comments I've had on my new green skirt is amazing, and I do like a good chat about clothes
      x

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  3. I couldn't agree with you more, and I certainly don't think that giving a lot of thought to what you wear is shallow. I feel so much better (and therefore stronger and more confident) if I love what I'm wearing. It only took me much longer than you to figure it out. I've always been interested in clothes, but I only got it right for me when I was heading towards 50. You're looking fabulous in that floral dress, by the way! xxx

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    1. Don't you just hate that feeling when you're not comfortable in your clothes, ugh, it can ruin a day for me. You can always tell when someone feels good in what they're wearing, it shines out of them, which is why I don't wait for an excuse to dress up. I used to think skirts and dresses were for special occasions, I'm glad I changed my view on that one.
      Thanks, I love this little dress, did you notice, it has pockets :)
      x

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  4. I agree with you, clothes certainly can make you feel happier, self assured and confident. I must admit that I'm not a lover of shopping for clothes so I tend to wear jeans and a top most of the time but it's amazing how different I can feel when I dress up a bit.

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    1. Shopping for something specific isn't my favourite thing, but a rummage to see what I can find is always fun :)
      Dressing up or putting on a favourite outfit gives you a mood boost that is absolutely free, which is why I try to make an effort everyday. Some days are a simple jeans and t shirt day but even then if they're my favourite jeans, they can still bring a smile to my face.

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  5. If I remember rightly that particular episode there was one lady who always wore a size too big and they really had to convince her to go down a size

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    1. You've got a good memory! I had a friend who used to wear size 14 clothes and was actually a 10. Another friend and I staged an intervention, took her shopping and bullied her (in a nice way) into buying some clothes in the right size. Her demeanor changed after that, she started enjoying clothes again. She was still wearing the same style of clothing but the clothes looked and felt completely different to her because they weren't hanging off her and hiding her figure. Which is another key to clothing happiness - wearing things that fit and look good and not worrying about the number on the label.
      x

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  6. I agree, what you wear can have a profound effect on mood and confidence. Also, it was a long process for me with finding my style and what really made me feel comfortable and happy. Some people never try and that makes me feel a bit sad for them because they've missed out. Lovely piece my dear xx

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    1. Thank you lovely.
      It does take time, effort, and trial and error. I made enough errors in my time, but it's so worth the effort. I think some people see it as superficial, and have little interest in personal style, but I know it makes a huge difference to how I feel. I don't ever want to stop caring about what I step into each day.
      xx

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  7. I really agree with this. It really can affect how you feel AND react to other people. I love how sunshine is really delighted when you compliment them on a garment, there's a shy delight, particularly with a stranger.
    As a teenager, I had very little money and what I d have, I spent on clothes-I used to without lunch I could buy something pretty eventually.

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    1. Going without food for clothes is dedication! I'm way too greedy to do that. It's lovely to tell someone, particularly a stranger, when you admire something they wear. My new green skirts gets a lot of comments and it kinda makes me love it more.

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  8. P.s. thanks for comment Christmas!!

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    1. You're very welcome, I'd let my blog reading lapse and it was lovely to catch up :)

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  9. Love it. It took me a long time to realize that it wasn't shallow to think about clothes. Style really isn't my forte, but I agree that once I started to define my own style I did start to feel more confident. It's funny, clothes still aren't really that important to me once I've bought them, but I am really picky about what I spend my money on, and while I could never describe my own style, I have had several people say to me that they've seen a "Jennifer skirt or dress" in a shop.

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    1. I know exactly what you mean. I've had similar experiences. We're all drawn to certain things that become our signature style, even if we don't realise it. That's probably the best way to define your style, to let it happen unconsciously.

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  10. Hi Hazel! I wanted to thank you for your sweet comment on my blog a while back--I've been so sporadic that I just now got the chance to drop by. I resonate with what you're saying here--the way you present yourself can really change your mood and confidence levels. Clothes are much less superficial than we think! I also agree that it's important to wear what you like regardless of whether it makes sense. While I'm gravitating a capsule wardrobe with more neutral colors and prints, I still love me a unique and quirky piece from a vintage market or thrift store.

    imperfect idealist

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    1. You're welcome, it's always nice to find a new blog to read. And welcome to my blog :)
      I really enjoy having a capsule wardrobe, I've had one for 18 months now. I started with a lot of neutrals I'm adding more colour and prints as I go, and it's helped to highlight the clothes in my wardrobe that I really love. Those pieces now get worn more than ever.
      Thanks for stopping by!

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  11. Great piece! I was reflecting on something very similar just recently - how my wardrobe now is not dissimilar to what I wanted to wear when I was 17 but often didn't because I felt too fat for short skirts (ahem, fatter now and don't care), or too conscious of my boobs to wear a fitted t-shirt, or not cool enough to wear vintage stuff. Ageing has its benefits, and losing that terrible self-consciousness of youth is definitely one of them.

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    1. Totally.
      I'm glad it's not just me that has the wardrobe my younger self wanted :)

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  12. I love this Hazel! I'm definitely happier when I'm dressed like 'me' - my current favourite look is '90s art teacher' but I also go for '70's boho hippy' and 'wizard in muggle dress' :) x

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Thank you for taking the time to comment x

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