do we dress for ourselves or others? - bon

do we dress for ourselves or others?

May 25, 2020

do we dress for ourselves or others?

I've always thought I dressed 100% for myself and got so annoyed when my husband suggested otherwise.  but since we've been in iso I've wondered if perhaps he was right. 

In iso I don't feel comfortable wearing anything other than super casual or active wear - literally a tee, a sweater and leggings everyday.  Even jeans feel too dressed up and out of place for my iso life - playing, running around at the local park and digging in the garden at home with my son.  It's been so liberating moving 100% freely in comfy clothes every day and not caring if I don't look good.  Super liberating. 

But then this happened :

I had to go to the compounding pharmacy to collect my son's meds.  It's a couple of suburbs away and entails a car trip and a bit of walking.  It's a nice suburb.

I got a bit excited about leaving the house and going further than our local park. No surprises there.

I had new pants that I'd ordered during lockdown and I really wanted to wear them so I put them on with flat black ankle boots, a tee and a simple black knit.  it was a casual outfit, what I would have worn on a regular day 'pre-iso'.  It was also a good outfit! and I felt good in it. 

I arrived at my destination, parked and walked to the pharmacy.  There were very few people around (it's iso after all).  But of those out running errands, everyone was super casual. 

I looked dressed up, and inappropriate.  I felt a bit silly.  It was obvious I wasn't on my way 'out' anywhere, this was a one errand outfit. 

My good outfit didn't feel good anymore.  Unexpected.  I felt a bit shit. 

Everyone else was fully in iso-outfit mode.  I stood out, and not in a good way.  Enhanced because good community minded citizen's stayed at home and prioritised health, safety, doing things they'd previously not had time to do, and being with family over trivial stuff like good outfits for pharmacy runs.

Over the next couple of days I thought about why I'd felt so uncomfortable standing out in my good outfit. 

I considered it because I thought I liked to be a little bit different, to stand out with my personal style - regardless of iso.  I don't like trends, I like having my own personal style, and I like standing out (in a very minimal non-standy out way) with that personal style.  I like NOT being a follower.   I dress 100% for myself, for my style, and for me to feel good because I like my outfit. 

But I realised, my shitty feeling was because I didn't fit in.  I felt shit because I stood out.  

And holy shit, is the not fitting in derived from what other's think of me??  Was my husband right?!  Do I dress for others and not for myself??  (an aside - I feel totally like Carrie Bradshaw writing this now, despite being a non-smoker I have a strong desire to wear lingerie with an oversized shirt and cashmere socks, smoke a cigarette and finish this off with a cosmopolitan) 

Back to the issue.  Here are the facts :

1. A good outfit makes me feel really good - more confident, more inspired, more motivated.  It's far, far away from being the only thing which makes me feel good, but a good outfit 100% has the power to positively impact how I feel. 

2. Reciprocally, when I don't love my outfit I feel a bit shit.  I feel uncomfortable and not good about myself.  It makes me distracted and not as productive. 

3. Those 2 things are derived from me and for me.  No-one else is involved. So based on that, I do dress for myself and not for others. Hooray!

But where do clothes as a way of fitting in fit in with that? 

My pharmacy trip experience was proof that not fitting in due to what I'm wearing has a negative impact on me.  I've also experienced this at the playground where being overdressed also makes me feel like I don't belong.

And here's the really interesting part - since not caring what I look like in iso I realised that a good outfit, feeling good, and fitting in is mostly connected to being out in public.  At home, with my family, when no-one else sees me, I'm totally comfy and 100% happy sporting bad hair and an average outfit. 

Holy shit - maybe I do dress for others and not for myself?? 

So I spent some time and uncovered some more facts :

1. I know I can't fully control what, or even if, people think of me.  If they think good things of me, or my outfits, thanks, that feels good!, I'll take it.  But I know enough to know that I can't control what others think.  so, aside from generally being a good human being, I don't bother trying to control what they think of me, through my outfits or otherwise.    

2. I use clothes to project myself a certain way in public and the clothes I select do tell part of my story.  This is conscious.  I'm not sure if this has any positive impact on me and my happiness, but it is something I control, and it's good to be in control.

3. I really love clothes. I love having and developing my personal style. I love being inspired by other women's outfits.  I love quality.  I love to feel good about the clothes I'm wearing.  I've always loved clothes and good clothes make me feel good.  This is my dna, it's 100% internal.

So I guess the answer, for me is - I dress to feel good.  What I wear, and the motivation for wearing it is 100% driven by me. It's often influenced by where I'm going and who I'm seeing but the good feeling derived from my outfit is created by me, for me.

I have concluded that I dress to feel good and that means I dress for me.  hooray!

That was an unintentionally long post, but I really got into it.  Do you guys have those same issues?  I'd love to hear your thoughts.  I know there are much bigger and more important things going on right now, and I do acknowledge in general there are many things bigger than good outfits but I also think it's good to discuss what makes us feel good, and if that's clothes, hooray, we've definitely got that in common!

x Linda




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