Style and wellness go hand-in-hand.
Don’t believe me?
When’s the last time you put on a pair of pants and felt amazing about yourself while wearing them?
When’s the last time you criticized the size of your butt or thighs or arms or rolls or cellulite or complexion or height while wearing your own clothes?
When’s the last time you felt insecure wearing a certain color, print, or fabric? When’s the last time you changed your outfit because you felt others might judge you?
Without even realizing it, we often dress according to other people’s expectations. And sometimes, the way we dress is indicative of how we feel about ourselves.
When we look in the mirror and like what we see, we feel better about ourselves. That’s not vanity, that’s self-awareness and appreciation.
When we look in the mirror and don’t like what we see, we feel insecure and experience low self-worth. We become afraid to show ourselves to the world because we are fearful of not meeting other people’s standards.
But don’t worry, there’s a way to fix all that.
My friend Vashti Faires is a personal stylist with a knack for showing people how to feel good about themselves in their own clothes.
During a spring fashion show (one of my favorite ways to hang with the gals and meet awesome people), Vashti and I talked about stuff like age, career, parenting, and how we allow our external circumstances to dictate our personal style.
Vashti and I quickly realized that we have the same mission in life: help people feel good about themselves so they can do good things in the world. The only difference is the medium we use. I use food, fitness, and meditation, and Vashti use style and wardrobe.
But we’re after the same thing. That’s why Vashti Faires is the official style expert for The Be Well Place.
From retail to banking and back again
Vashti worked in retail for a long time doing visual merchandising and styling. Then, she ventured to the corporate banking world. Needless to say, Vashti experienced an abrupt change in her day-to-day attire.
But the confines of the corporate world didn’t stop Vashti from expressing herself. She’s always had a strong sense of self and didn’t allow herself to feel stifled or limited.
“When in the corporate environment, you do have to cave to their standards a bit,” Vashti admits, “but you don’t have to hide your personality.”
Vashti started her corporate banking job during a winter season, so she wore long sleeves, jackets, and warm sweaters. But once spring came around, she started showing some skin. And that skin had ink.
It may be uncommon to see tattoos openly displayed in a corporate environment, but that doesn’t mean there is a lack of tolerance for ink.
“My coworkers first got to know the person behind the tattoos, so when I wore shorter sleeves, it wasn’t a big deal.”
Whether it be ink, bold hair color, or bright lipstick, Vashti reminds us that although we do have to dress appropriately for the occasion, we don’t have to lose ourselves to other people’s expectations. Plus, there’s always the chance that they’ll accept us as we are.
And she’s got a lot of awesome tips to help spice up our wardrobes and develop the self-assurance we need share ourselves completely with the world.
Here are Vashti’s top fashion tips for every season:
Let go of other people’s expectations
Vashti is a mother of two boys and in her mid-30s.
“People tend to think I’m younger than I really am because of the way I dress,” Vashti laughs.
It’s not that she’s dressing “too young for her age” or inappropriately, she just doesn’t let age hold her back from expressing herself.
“Women often think that they need to have a ‘mommy look’ or that they can’t wear certain things because they’re a mom now. That’s a lot of BS. That’s other people’s perception of the mom role. It doesn’t’ speak on the type of mom that you are.”
Same goes for age.
“Why do we need to cover up as we get older? I’m not saying wear the same thing, the same way you did at 16 years old, now when you’re 60 years old, but dress to fit your personality. And if you’re not quite certain how to achieve that, working with a personal stylist who you feel comfortable with and who understands your personality and lifestyle can be a major resource and a big help.”
Vashti reminds us to dress according to who we are and what we feel, not because someone has an opinion of how we should look.
Do what you want for you
Some women like the “mommy look.” Some people don’t want to wear the latest trends. Some people feel perfectly themselves in suits and ties.
Great! Wunderbar! Fantastico!
Wear it! Live it! Be it! Whatever it is!
If you want to dress conservatively, dress conservatively.
If you want to dress casual, dress casual.
If you want to take an hour every morning to do your hair, fire up that curling iron.
Just do it for you, not because other people expect it.
Look to the seasons for guidance
The change of the seasons is the perfect time to reflect, refresh, and renew our inner selves and our wardrobes.
It’s a great time to shed unnecessary baggage, embark on new journeys, and fulfill our potential.
Take a good look at each piece in your closet. Ask yourself the following questions:
1. Do I like this piece?
2. When was the last time I wore it?
3. Do I see myself wearing it in the future?
For the pieces that we haven’t worn and probably won’t wear in the future, it can be very hard to detach ourselves and let the piece go.
But such pieces are taking up space physically in our closet and metaphorically in our lives.
When we let such pieces go, we create space for new opportunities. Or just space that need not be filled.
Donate what you don’t use
Vashti always encourages her clients to donate to organizations that help people who need clothes.
For example, if a client has good quality professional attire to donate, an organization like Dress for Success provides such attire to women who need a good interview outfit.
My personal tip is to consider the intention for donating.
It’s easy to think of donating as a guilt-free way to throw stuff away. And it’s easy to consider the social hierarchy of donating and feel guilty or pompous.
Clothing donation is a very useful system that provides affordable resources to people who need them. It also provides affordable raw materials for upcyclers.
By letting go of pieces in our closets, we not only create space for ourselves, but we also create new opportunities for others.
Clothes look best on fit bodies
“Fit” does not imply “skinny.” Nor does it imply “super muscly-armed and six-pack abs.”
There are so many shapes and sizes in this world – which is a beautiful thing! Life is all about variety, and variety is what makes life so intriguing.
But there’s a big difference between fit and not fit, no matter what the size and shape.
Fit just means that the body is worked out regularly and fed nutritious foods.
Essentially, a fit body is one that is responsibly taken care of by its inhabiter.
And when we take care of our bodies and keep our bodies in good condition, we look better in our clothes.
“No one has to fit a certain body type,” assures Vashti, “and knowing what types of clothes fit your body best can be a real help in feeling good about your body image.”
Vashti knows that clothes alone can’t build confidence and change a person’s life. But if a person is seeking life change anyways and trying to eat well, work out, and feel good about themselves, wardrobe is definitely part of all that.
“Clothes won’t make you confident or super successful, but if you’re heading that direction anyways it really does help with your overall confidence.”
Plenty of people view Vashti’s career as a stylist as something superficial. But it’s so much more than that. It’s part of an overall wellness strategy.
“I won’t turn you into a certain person by dressing you nicely,” Vashti confesses. “But if you want to move in a positive direction in life, learning how to dress yourself well is one of the things you can do to get there.”
(photo credit: JusFoFun Photography)