Dress for the Day; Dress for the Life

Dress for the Day; Dress for the Life

I’ve been enjoying following Dear Abby Leigh’s new cause, Dress for the Day. It’s about fashion, but it’s not really about fashion. It’s about intention and cheerfulness and purpose and buoyancy. Here’s the motto:

Dress for the Day you want
dress for the day you want to have…not the one that’s trying to have you

Abby’s quick to point out that she’s not a fashion blogger—and neither am I! But that doesn’t mean we can’t still think clothes are important. Whether I want to or not, I can’t help but send myself powerful messages by the clothes—and hair, and makeup, and shoes-I choose for myself each day.

A few years ago, I realized that I send other people messages with my clothes, too. But maybe not in the way you would think.

I’ve always believed in dressing for the occasion, but I never stopped to think about the more nuanced vibes I gave off with my apparel choices. I’m not sure what brought my attention to it–in hindsight, I wonder if it was Ruth Reichl’s Garlic and Sapphires, but I’m just speculating. I may not remember the trigger, but I know this: when I realized people’s perception of me changed when I changed my clothes, I decided to change the way I dress.

Here’s what happened: by nature, I’m a pretty conservative and classic dresser. Give me my sweater set and string of pearls and I’ll be good to go. (Okay, that’s a little hyperbolic … but you get the idea.) The buttoned-up, sophisticated look came easy to me.

But I’m an introvert, and I finally came to the conclusion that the buttoned-up look I gravitated toward didn’t help me have the days—or the life—that I wanted to have. My crisp style of dressing + my reserved personality could too easily come off as standoffish–but I wanted my style of dress to help me exude warmth and friendliness. In other words, I wanted my style of dress to reveal the real me! I didn’t used to think that clothes mattered in this way. Now, I do.

dress for the day; dress for the life
the new normal: tee, jeans, and ruffled, flowy cardigan. More pictures from this overdue family photo shoot coming soon!

And so I made a conscious decision to change. As I began to shop for new clothes, I steered towards a warmer palette and flowy silhouettes. I began to look for drape instead of crispness in my garments. I chose softer jewelry and fun shoes. I shunned anything that screamed “sophisticated,” because that’s just not what I was going for.

I had to work at it. The change was difficult at first (though if I actually shopped more often, I might have adapted more quickly!), but I was happier in my new style. When I changed my clothes, I began to feel more approachable, more friendly, more fun. Warmer. It didn’t hurt to discover that I looked better in flowy garments than I did in crisp lines anyway.

It’s been a few years since I decided to change my style, and now it comes naturally. In fact, when I filled out my style survey for my first Stitch Fix shipment, I described my style as “classic,” but also “approachable,” “soft,” and “friendly.” (More about Stitch Fix soon.) Taking care to project friendliness with my clothes is how I dress for the day–and the week and the year and the life.

For more great reading about dressing for the day, check out Dear Abby Leigh’s Dress for the Day link-up.

Do you dress for the day you want to have? The life you want to have? I hope I’m not the only one 🙂 Tell us how you approach fashion in the comments!

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