Recently, I discovered this incredible thing called ‘owning your shit’. I falter, of course, and there are times when I leave the house with my head held high, in what I think is a chic outfit, only to feel down-in-the-dumps, “fat” or off-trend when I arrive to my destination, or even my office. (I know YOU’VE ALL been there.) Yet, despite my personal moods, times of compromise, or level of bloatnedness, I always return home at the end of the day feeling like I made a mistake for hating on myself; I must love the fancy clothes I wear and own my elevated, elegant sense of dress as much as I love and own who I am. So Becca, your ‘often times fancy sense of dress’, I will forget you not.
My mom always used to say, “don’t be one of those women who acts or dresses down because that’s what the masses are doing”. I was raised in a home where dressing up was the norm and upscale was considered casual- my mom wore shoes with heels nearly every day, come rain, sleet, hail or snow- she was a non-fictional version of Charlotte from Sex and The City, always a level above the establishment in which she found herself. Class, she exuded it. “Dressing one notch above the acceptable standard for where you are going will set you apart and keep the important eyes on you”, she would say. As well, my dad wore beautiful suits and ties every day and proudly represented a distinguished and powerful man. In our home, shoe shining was a nightly ritual and was as common as teeth brushing or watching a tv series. So, I guess you could say, we were a bit on the conservative and fancy side.
Whenever we traveled- even as young kids- we were dressed in nice clothing. As I got older, it all clicked for me: travelers that wore dirty, disheveled sweatpants on the plane and arrived to a beautiful, elegant destination looking more homeless than hopeful helped me understand the value in being a step ahead. It helped me attract the right attention and set myself as part as timeless and responsible. My upbringing, in culmination with the unadulterated truth behind the notion of, “you never know who you are going to meet”, played an active role in my dressing, often times, too nicely. But, we all have to find what works for us and unabashedly set ourselves in motion to where we personally want to go, or already going- so if your career warrants your wearing jeans day in and day out, take it a step up and elevate, elevate, elevate!
I went to a dive bar lately with my husband and another couple. It would have been very easy to dress down, wearing mom jeans and dirty sneakers (despite being fervently against that “I don’t care” look). But, I stuck with my guns and wore what I wanted- overdressed or not. Turns out, a very successful television personality entered, and through our friends, we became associated. I was relieved that I came prepared: I was taken more seriously because of my attire, and the vibe that I was giving off: hungry for success, elegant, and not afraid of what people think, in a world full of casualness and easy spirits, definitely helped my professional cause. I got her email address that same night.
Every Friday I go with my husband for lunches with friends in the market of our city, on a side street somewhere, or even in their home. My husband used to make fun of me for dressing too nicely for the “disgusting and dirty” market, as he put it, but I insisted- as I love the way I feel, both inside and out, when I wake up and put on a beautiful outfit, even if I am deemed “overdressed” for my destination. I always feel bad about myself when I don’t dress nicely- I feel like I am selling myself short. And I’ve learned to ignore the side glances of others who see my clothing and make assumptions. I feel freer doing so.
There are many people that feel uncomfortable when dressing nicely, in fact. But, each level or sense of dress must be acknowledged and assessed honestly by us as individuals before we make a decision on what works, and eventually stick with that. Knowing ourselves and being honest about who we really are at our core, as well as the type of people we choose to associate with, or life we want to have, will prevent any embarrassment, halt mixed emotions about what we wear day in and day out, and help define who we are more deeply, for if I personally run into another CEO, I will feel assured in how I present myself, and ready to take on the next challenge.