Who you are, how you feel, and how you want to be treated

Who you are, how you feel, and how you want to be treated

dressed for spring

Since early last year, I’ve made a point to dress for the ordinary days: to dress like I’m ready to take on the world, not like I’m barely getting by.

I’m conscious of the power clothes have to send messages to the people around us. That’s why for everyday dressing, I shun the sophisticated in favor of approachable, friendly, and fun styles.

Recently, I heard Jon Call expound on this idea in a recent After the Jump podcast. (Yes, the same one.)

He said–in a tangent that I was all too happy to hear–that dressing every day is a creative act: what you wear communicates “who you are, how you feel, and how you want to be treated.”


It’s the “how you want to be treated” part that got me. I realized, flipping back through my mental catalog, that I’d done this for years–like when I dress with care when going shopping so I’ll get better service, like my mama taught me. But I’d never heard it articulated until Call said it.

Recently, I’ve been yearning to exercise the power of dressing. Our winter here feels never-ending, and I am yearning for spring.

So when I popped into Nordstrom Rack to make a return last week, I couldn’t resist a bright scarf with a sailboat-ish print that just screamed spring! I pulled it right off the mannequin and took it home for ten bucks. Totally worth it.

Maybe I can’t make the weather change (although today was glorious!) but I can dress the way I want to feel–and I feel like a girl who’s ready for long days and sunshine.

So in the picture above, I’m wearing my spring brights and my sailboat-y scarf, because I want to be treated like a girl who’s friendly, approachable, and absolutely done with this winter.

What about you?

Who you are, how you feel, and how you want to be treated: what do those three things mean to you and to how you dress for the day?Β 

PS. Dressing for a dreary day, and a quick fashion tip from my mama.

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  1. Jamie says:

    Love this! πŸ™‚

    I own very little clothing in bright colors, but I like to use bright nail polish (currently purple) to achieve much the same effect. Thanks for the reminder that there are simple things we can all be doing to mitigate the seemingly endless slog of winter!

  2. Ana says:

    I always struggle against the idea that caring too much about fashion, or heaven forbid, liking to shop is shallow and frivolous (seems to be a narrative in certain “academic women” circles). But how I dress does impact how I feel and how I project myself, and that probably in turn impacts how others see and treat me. Good reminder!
    I love your yellow scarf, BTW. I can’t do indoor scarves (I’m sensitive to the feeling of anything around my neck unless I really am freezing) but I love the look on others!!

  3. Erica M. says:

    This inspired me today. It’s so dull and gloomy here! So I put on my bright green shirt and my red lipstick. I feel better already! (Or maybe that’s the coffee…possibly both.) =D

  4. Anne says:

    This is why I should go put on the mascara. I have made it a point to put on makeup for the ordinary days for a while now, but I am faltering postpartum, not surprisingly. However, I was able to put the baby down, sleeping, during my comment-writing, and I put on my makeup. More than mascara even. It took less than 5 minutes. Hurrah! I don’t look so tired anymore, and it gave me a little spring in my step.

    So, in closing, I agree with your post! I think I’ll put my makeup in one more place. My tip is to place little bags of it in easy to access places so you can put it on whenever: car, upstairs bath, downstairs bath, purse.

    • Anne says:

      Yay! Love this.

      Mascara always felt like a miracle to me when I was postpartum and exhausted (and looked it!) I was much happier with the face in the mirror when I was wearing a little–it at least looked liked I’d gotten a little sleep–even if I hadn’t. πŸ™‚

  5. Becki says:

    I get this, but in the same token I’ve never worn make-up and I feel very awkward in anything but a t-shirt and jeans. I don’t wear jewelry, and scarves and other items always seem to get in the way. Any suggestions?

    • Aubry Smith says:

      Becki, I just wanted to comment and say that I’m the EXACT same way – I have always been such a minimalist in wardrobe, t-shirts and jeans, and staying home with my kids has only increased that. πŸ™‚ I always felt awkward if it seemed like I tried too hard. Further, simplicity and spending my money well are important to me. My husband finally had a come-to-Jesus moment with me and basically said exactly what Anne is saying here: dress like you want to be treated. I’m having trouble getting certain people to take me seriously, and the truth is, I look naive because I dress like a college student and I look younger than I am.

      We set aside some of our tax refund for a basic wardrobe for me (to actually replace clothes I had from high school and college…which has been quite awhile and 3 kids ago). I’m ridiculous and have no sense of style, so I watched “What Not to Wear” on Netflix and studied it, haha! I made a list of specific things I needed to buy for my lifestyle and what would probably work well with my body type. I focused on blouses/tops that looked nicer than t-shirts and accessories (since they can dress up plain solid tees).

      Honestly, it had an effect I was not anticipating: I’ve been struggling with postpartum depression, and my clothes had been feeding into it. I looked and felt frumpy. Dressing in at least a nice blouse and jeans, or adding a pretty scarf or necklace makes me feel a lot less frumpy, and I find I get more done and have more energy.

      (Thanks, Anne, for the recommendation of Nordstrom Rack awhile back – I have one in my city and tried it because of your post. I love the styles there! Much better than my go-to of Target and Old Navy!)

      • Anne says:

        Aubry, I’ve been following your all’s (and especially you) journey through your blog and social media, and I’m so glad you’ve found something to give you a boost. I’m not sure why I continue to be surprised at what a difference what we wear makes, because it makes a difference to me and endless numbers of people have claimed the same, but I still continue to be surprised. Pleasantly surprised.

        I agree about Nordstrom Rack. Mine is across the parking lot from Trader Joe’s, which I visit weekly, at least. It’s kind of convenient and kind of dangerous. πŸ™‚

    • Anne says:

      Yes! It’s tough to look good when you’re not comfortable, and if minimalism is your style, go for it. Tshirts and jeans can be super cute–if the tee is not ten years old with a couple of holes in it, and if the jeans fit well. (Do you do belts? Also, a cute bag can pull things together if you need to look pulled together.)

      Now, if you’re wanting to try something a little bit different, it’s pretty easy these days to find t-shirts with a little something extra–they almost look like blouses: well-cut, with a little extra embellishment or detailing. I’ve had good look finding this. I’ve had good luck finding this kind of thing at Ann Taylor Loft and Anthro, but you can probably find them anywhere these days!

      • Becki says:

        Thanks ladies. πŸ™‚ Those are great suggestions!

        Any blogs that you guys follow that offers practical advise? I’m short and I feel like every time I try stuff on I can’t find anything that looks good.

  6. Faigie says:

    I’m not much into fashion. I leave that to my older daughters. I definitely do see though that when I dress somewhat normally when I am in the whole day, I do feel better

  7. Elizabeth says:

    Agree! I tend to feel better when I’m wearing colors I love that are comfortable and versatile no matter where I go. I tend to get overwhelmed when I’m shopping for clothes, but it doesn’t take a lot to really inject some energy into a wardrobe. I’m ready to get a few pieces for the spring. I love love love winter garb, but I’m ready to slough off my coat and feel lighter when I go out.

    And I really like that color pattern you’ve got going on! Where did you get the colored jeans and striped shirt?

    • Anne says:

      I hear you! I love winter clothes, but I’m ready to go lighter! And I’m definitely ready to leave the coat in the closet for a while. πŸ™‚

      The jeans and shirt are both through Stitch Fix.

  8. Anna says:

    I’ve noticed that when I feel better about how I look (or how I’m dressed) my mood is more pleasant. So I do try to make the effort, just for myself if no one else. This doesn’t always mean dressed up, it can be jeans and a t-shirt, but it’s about how I feel in what I’m wearing, not just throwing on any old thing.
    Plus when I’m in Africa, we have people dropping by all the time, and I feel more prepared to deal with it if I’m dressed for the day.

  9. Love this and it works for kids too. I have a friend who worked in a daycare and she said the kids that look cute and smell good get the most cuddles. They just do. So when it came time for her to send her kids to preschool she always put lotion on them in the morning and took care to dress them nicely because she wanted them loved on.

    Now I need to get out of my yoga pants. (extra pregnancy weight pleeeease come off…) πŸ˜‰

  10. Jeannie says:

    I had never thought about the “how you want to be treated” part. But when I count the unprecedented # of times this winter that I’ve walked my son to school with pajamas on under my coat and snowpants, maybe I SHOULD think about it! πŸ™‚

    I had an interesting related experience just today. I rarely wear makeup, but I have a lipstick I love so I keep it in my purse; and I slicked some on before leaving home today. The first woman I met said to me, “You know, I need to remember to put lipstick on in the morning — I see how nice yours looks and I have to make a point of keeping some in my purse.” I was so surprised! To be perfectly honest, I expect not to be noticed. Maybe I have to start dressing against that expectation.

  11. I was doing so well at dressing everyday, but then the sub-zero temps hit and variety of clothing I was able to wear greatly diminished. I felt like I lost my creativity in the midst of layered sweaters and boots. I am also yearning for spring, or at least warmer temperatures so I can become more motivated to dress in creative ways again.

  12. You do look ready for spring! I love the pops of color at the sleeve hem.

    I was just noticing this week that it’s time for more color and general freshening up in my wardrobe, too. My go-to method for changing things up is statement necklaces. I need to keep an eye out for a spring-y one. πŸ˜‰

  13. Jillian Kay says:

    This week it hit 40 degrees and I pulled out a turquoise blouse and felt oh so happy to do so! Living near DC I only have a few sweaters that I’ve been rotating all winter. I didn’t want to invest in more because I’m sure it won’t be this cold again for a while, but man am I ready for change.

    I do struggle with the “how you want to be treated” thing though mostly because I know it is true, but it feels icky because I see it in action with the mostly all male staff at work.

    On the practical side, I’ve had good luck picking up a few different things at Zulily, ThreadUp, and I love Eddie Bower’s Travex line for walking outside in the summer.

  14. I really don’t have much of a sense of personal style (I guess this goes along with not being great at decorating somehow as well?) but I am in the process of using Pinterest to help figure out what kinds of clothing and colors and patterns I like and that stand out to me so I can try and replicate them myself somehow.

    So far I’ve discovered that I really like red maxi skirts (the stretch, jersey knit ones) and a few weeks ago I finally went out and bought one, which is, I think, the first time I’ve actually been super intentional about something I wanted to own for my wardrobe. I love it, although I only have a few things I can wear it with so far.

  15. Rebecca says:

    I love the idea of the psychology behind dressing intentionally, even (or maybe especially?) for a home schooling mom. You’ve given me a lot of food for thought!
    For me, a lot of the technical problem was solved watching the original Brit version of What Not to Wear: The Rules (on Youtube). They shoot a lot straighter about camouflaging and redirecting the eye and less about keeping up with fashion trends. I learned why almost all pants, and gathered and a-line skirts look horrible on my pear shape. I also learned a whole bag of tricks for dealing with big/muscular upper arms that I NEVER want to see the light of day.
    Thank for providing the motivation to actually put “the rules” into practice πŸ™‚

  16. Rebecc Putna says:

    I love fashion and my clothes definetly are an expression of my creativity. I am 46 and wear a lot of color, bows, flowers and anything whimsical. I have a dress with vintage telephones on it and I just ordered a skirt with phones on it. I’m not afraid to dress up and to wear what I like. I like my clothes to be both sophisticated and fun. Tonight my best friend and I are taking our daughters to the Broadway musical Cinderella. My friend texted me from Kohls this morning to tell me to get over there quick because there is a whole line of women’s Cinderella clothes. It must be in time for the movie coming out in March. Tonight we all 4 will be dressed up in Cinderella clothing. My 10 year old told me she hopes to have a friend like mine when she grows up because we are so fun. I enjoy being playful in how I dress and I love fashion.

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