Fashion as Communication: The Importance of Dressing with Intention

So far, we have identified internal and external roots of wardrobe malfunctions. We are growing emotionally stronger, working on self-acceptance, and focusing on the story of our body rather than reaching an “ideal standard” of beauty. Now, before getting to the fun part – creating a curated wardrobe – we need to think of the message we want to convey through our clothes.

Having a curated wardrobe starts with loving and accepting how you are. When you have solved this, you will wear your clothes with confidence. The next step is figuring out what you need from your clothes and what you want to say through them. This will help you find the right pieces. Our body tells our story (read that blog post here). Our clothes say who we are and how we feel. This is not necessarily about people around you; this is essentially about you. Ultimately, others will perceive it.

What am I saying with the clothes I wear?

We always communicate something – verbally or non-verbally- whether we are being intentional or not. Our clothes, along with our personal care, communicate something that could be what we want/need to say or not. This includes the colors you wear, the fit, how you accessorize, the brands you wear, etc.

If you have already worked on acceptance and self-love, you will be coherent and authentic in your choices. And as I mentioned before, clothing, and personal care go together! Have you been in a nail salon and the person taking care of you has nails that make you think “What am I doing here?” It has happened to me, not once, but many times. How would you feel if your attorney was dressed in a hoody and sweatpants? Communication is the key

Our clothes form a part of how we look and whether we are conscious about it or not, we are saying something to others when we put on our clothes.  If I go to the gym and I am putting on an expensive brand that others will notice, I am communicating something about my wealth and lifestyle (or maybe what I want others to think about my wealth and lifestyle). If I wear clothing that is tight and revealing, it might be saying something about how hard I have been working out or my recent diet.  When I put on something bulky and ill-fitting, I might also be sharing what I am uncomfortable with.

The environment also matters.  What am I saying if I put on my pajamas to go to church?  That is a different statement than if I am sitting at home in front of the TV.  

The fact that we are saying something with our clothing is neither positive nor negative.  It is like any other communication.  We need to think about what we want to say.  Maybe it is about the priorities in our lives.  Dressing well and presenting well can show respect and that others matter to us in our lives.  When our husbands dress well and go out with us, how does that make us feel? I feel respected and appreciated that my husband has put on clothes that he knows present well.  Not only do I feel like he is showing the world that I take good care of him, but that he wants me to feel good being seen with him.

Let’s look at some positive examples below. The images can say so much more.Examples of messages in your clothingMessages in your outfit

What are these women projecting? We picked out a couple of adjectives, but there are many more. Can you think of some? Are you already thinking about your own message? I bet you are. If you want to go a little bit further, do the same exercise with yourself. Look for a recent photo and write out what you are projecting.

What do I want to say with the clothes I wear?

There are two questions we need to ask ourselves:

  1. How do I want to feel in my clothes? Powerful or confident; sexy or comfortable, etc.
  2. Do I need to be perceived in a certain way in some situations? For instance, at work when you are a realtor, a clothing designer or a nail salon owner.

If you are a make-a-list person, then write out some adjectives of what you need/want to convey and the way you want to feel. If you are not a make-a-list person, do it anyway. I know it sounds boring for some of us, including me (my sister Patricia is in her element), but making lists makes everything easier and more effective. I encourage you to give it a try.

Example: put together, neat, chic, feminine, comfortable, practical, etc.

Think about your roles. Write them out too as well as some phrases with the message you want to communicate. My statement would be something like this: I am married. I have 2 little kids. I am in my early 40’s. I work from home. I own a clothing brand. I want to say “I feel pretty, feminine, sophisticated, and chic. But I need to be comfortable and wear practical clothes.”

This step is very important, because it is the foundation for the rest of the journey to get the wardrobe you dream about.

What factors to think about when building a curated wardrobe.

The aim of this blog is to help us create a curated wardrobe that overall is functional. To get there we should pay attention to some factors. We will talk more about each of them in following blogs, but here is an overview:

  1. Where you live is very important. You should think of seasons, temperature changes and weather conditions.
  2. Your wardrobe should contain the right type of clothes for your day-to-day activities. What do you do daily? Do you go to places that have a dress code? Your lifestyle and the climate define the type and amount of clothing you need.
  3. Types of clothing. Here, you need to think of what type of clothing you need that fits your lifestyle and where you live. You will need staples, extras and seasonal items.
  4. Personal fashion style. Here is where you decide how each item is going to look. It must be your own style, the one that makes you look authentic and not in a costume. You will choose silhouettes, lengths, fabrics, etc.
  5. Colors. Here you will choose the colors that flatter you. Think of seasonal color palettes.
  6. Accessories and footwear.

We can’t wait to continue this journey. Share your thoughts in the comments below and subscribe here to stay in the loop with our monthly newsletter.

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