Perception

Another re-post from my blog.

As I go through my wardrobe, I really sit back and wonder just a couple of things:  do I really need all this stuff and, more importantly, do I really want all this stuff?  And I as look at what I wear the most often, I wonder what on earth made me purchase some of this other stuff!  Has anyone else been there?  I have a theory.

There’s something called the “power of suggestion”.  Some are more prone to it than others.  Whether it’s though television, radio, magazine ads, window displays, or some other method, marketing tells us that we NEED their product.  It doesn’t matter what the product is:  phones, televisions, clothes, restaurant meals, jewelry, homes, cars, etc.  Marketing is very powerful.

But so is expectation.  The influence of others.  The perceived notion of what others want from you.

I have had that problem in the past two years.  Honestly, there were people who would speak to me if I was dressed up and had my makeup and hair done.  And there were days when I felt more casual, was presentable, but not completely fixed up, and they wouldn’t even look my way.  Seriously.  The double standard.  It made me feel less of a person some days, it irritated me to no end on other days.  I would do what I could to have people like me for a while (but eventually I just didn’t care anymore).

And then I took the plunge and pretty much rebuilt my entire wardrobe for work.  Now, I didn’t go out and spend $5000, like on What Not To Wear (though that would have been nice), but I did buy several quality pieces from a couple of brands that I know , but there were some other things I bought on clearance that I have questioned my lack of common sense on.

Here’s a great example:  cardigans.  I love cardigans.  Most of the ones I have are pretty plain, a few have prints, but I bought some that have the little fake jewels sewed around the neck.  I’m not a person who enjoys bling.  I really don’t .  And our last state was one that believed heavily in a blingy wardrobe, across the map.  I’m more of a plain cotton, linen, and denim type of gal.

So, because I thought it would be good for my “reputation”, I bought new clothes that I saw other people wearing.  I bought things that were outside of my norm.  Now, there’s something to be said for trying something new, but when you know good and well what you do and don’t like, there’s no sense going out of your way to buy stuff that makes other people happy.  I ended up with a closet full of things that weren’t “me”.

My perception of what I thought they thought of me drove my decisions.  Stupid.  Now, this was a business office, but it was business casual/business formal type of atmosphere.  There wasn’t a strict standard. Every Friday was blue jeans day.  In the summer, we could even wear knee-length shorts.  It was great.  Reverting back to the business wear was a little more difficult after the super hot summer of cooler clothes.  Back to my blingy cardigans, high heels, and full-on makeup.  Ugh.   It was too much to live up to other people’s standards.

Some of these clothes are still handy, but only the ones that I put thought into, like the name brand (on sale) quality clothes.  I still have them and love them.  The rest of it has completely gone by the wayside.

And that’s what is great about the clothing market:  options.  Whatever your style, you can pretty much find a store that sells whatever you need, whether it is business formal or hipster.  The problem is that everything is thrown at you and if you don’t have your boundaries in place with your finances and your emotions, you can buy the mall out and hate 99.9% of what you purchased.

I’ve found over time that buying the basics is the best thing to do:  the little black dress for out and about night event; the slacks, button up shirt, and jacket/blazer for business; and quality shorts and pants for casual times.  I love things that accent and show off my personality: a bright red purse, a yellow shirt, a chunky necklace, a funky button-down shirt.  But I like the blank canvas, if you will, of basics to set off those things.

I’m not down to the capsule wardrobe yet and I don’t know that I will be for a long time, but I do know that my impulse shopping days are over.  I’m not going to spend a fortune on this season’s “must haves”, but I will probably hit the clearance racks and sales and find the pieces I want for my wardrobe.  It’s all a matter of balance, but it’s also a matter of your personal insight.  You can say “no” to all the ads, the peer pressure, the perceptions, the expectations.  Find out who you are.  Find what makes you tick.  And build from there.

It’s been a fun journey.  I wish I could say it’s been cheaper.

Here’s to all of you fashion explorers who aren’t afraid to go try new things and all of you who are timid, but do it anyhow.  Happy shopping!

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