Figuring out your personal style can help to boost your body image. That might seem surprising. But it’s true!
Sally McGraw, who authors the amazing blog “Already Pretty,” talks about this very topic in her excellent book Already Pretty: Learning to Love Your Body By Learning to Dress It Well. (It’s filled with great ideas, tips and insights!)
As Sally writes in her book, “It wasn’t until I began exploring personal style — dressing in fun, flattering, form-fitting clothes — that an unexplored universe slowly revealed itself…When I started to dress in a way that made me look and feel amazing, I finally stopped actively, continually, exhaustingly hating my body.”
What often happens is that we think we don’t deserve to buy beautiful clothes at our current size. When we drop X amount of pounds, then we’ll look for clothes that flatter our figures and actually make us feel good.
But this kind of thinking just makes us feel worse. It becomes another reason why we dislike our bodies and feel uncomfortable in our own skin.
This kind of thinking doesn’t serve us. Why wait to feel great? Why wait to have fun? Why wait to feel comfortable and beautiful in your own skin?
I love what Sally says about style: It’s “personal, emotional, unique. Style is created by an individual with tastes, needs, and a specific set of curves and angles.” Style is another way to explore, express and empower ourselves.
One way to identify your personal style is to ask several key questions. In the chapter on redefining your style, Sally features the below valuable list. (She suggests keeping a style journal. That’s where you’d answer these questions.)
1. “What is your top use priority?” In other words, what kinds of things do you look for in a piece of clothing? For instance, do you want it to be versatile or durable?
2. “What are your top three figure-flattery priorities?” Would you like to show off your shoulders? But downplay your chest? I personally like to cover my chest but show my shoulders and legs. What would you like your clothes to do for you?
3. “What is your top comfort priority?” Do you need to avoid certain fabrics or styles because of your sensitive skin? Do you need comfy shoes that’ll take you on a long walk? For instance, in Florida, where we go from car to restaurant, my shoes don’t need to be that comfortable. However, when I’m in NYC, wow. I rarely wear heels and take my most comfortable flats with me.
4. “What are your color priorities?” Would you like to have more brights or neutrals in your closet? As Sally says, “Which colors make you feel happiest, loveliest, most powerful?”
5. “How much overlap do you want between work and weekend?” How much different is your work wear from your weekend wardrobe? Do you want them to be different? Since I work from home and work out often, I’m usually in some kind of exercise outfit during the day. And if I am wearing “normal” clothes, then I love comfy, short dresses or maxi dresses. (Sweats work, too.) When I got out, I like to go a bit more formal.
6. “What do you want to change?” What would you like to keep about your style? What would you like to change? What do those changes look like?
7. “What adjectives describe your ideal style?” Try to jot down at least 10 words. These words will guide your purchases. For instance, are you thinking bold, Bohemian or classic?
8. “What do you want to avoid?” Sally notes that it’s just as important to know what you don’t want as what you do.
Has finding your personal style helped you improve your body image? What adjectives describe your style? What’s your fave way to express yourself?
Stay tuned in the next weeks for an interview with Sally about style and her book — and a giveaway!!
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Last reviewed: 26 Jul 2012