Body Positivity: Stepping Out of Your Wardrobe Comfort Zone, by Fern Baker-Guy

Generally speaking I am a pretty self-confident person. But like most of us, I do have certain parts of my body that aren't particularly on my hit parade. For instance, my knees are wrinkly. I have some junk in the trunk. Plus I'm over 60. Plus I'm short. But the main thing I've learned over the years when it comes to fashion is this: I'll try anything, as long as I like it. Because I've also learned that I can't always accurately predict what's going to work and what's not. So why not try?

Clothes are a necessity, but fashion is a choice. We need clothes to cover our bodies, in the summer mainly so we don't get arrested for public nudity, and in the winter mainly to keep warm. We use fashion as a means of expressing our personalities and taste, as well as to enhance the good and minimize the not-as-good.

And that's what I'd like to talk about today, because something's been bothering me.

When I first changed careers and started working at a fashion boutique, I was struck by how often I would hear women denigrate their own looks in some form or another. Things like "I don't look good in bright colors" or "I don't wear prints" or "I hate my arms so no sleeveless" or "I won't  wear _____ (fill in the blank)."  It made me wonder: were these simply "preferences", or were women putting unnecessary limitations on their choices? And what was behind it? 

I actually ponder this stuff. It's important to me because I enjoy the heck out of dressing women and helping them put together a look. I'm a great believer that every woman can look fabulous. But sometimes it requires stepping outside of your comfort zone. And for a variety of reasons, lots of us are really gun-shy about that.

So what is it that makes us hesitate to try something different? I always think back to that TV show What Not to Wear (I was a huge fan back in the day). I loved how Stacy and Clinton would absolutely insist that the guest star try the items that they had picked out for her. No whining about likes and dislikes. Try. It. On. Period. And 9.9 times out of 10, the guest was amazed at how much she loved how she looked. Ahhh, such satisfaction to see a woman walk away with a new, flattering and workable wardrobe. 

Of course, I could never and would never force a customer to try something on. The best I can do is suggest. But let's consider some possible reasons why it's hard to step out of your wardrobe comfort zone.

Body Image: Most women have at least one issue with their bodies, if not more. Social media, which bombards us with images of perfect bodies, hair and skin, certainly does not help. We tend to laser-focus on whatever body part we're not happy with. Most of the time these days, it's the arms. It seems like everyone I know has started hating their arms. But think about it: do you ever look at a beautifully dressed woman and immediately think "oh, but her arms!". NO, of course not! You're focused on her whole look, not a specific part. Trust me, no one except you is thinking about your arms. Embrace (see what I did there?) your arms, and all the sleeveless tops and dresses you've been avoiding like the plague. 

Age: Forty must be a magic number, because that's the age when some of us start worrying about dressing "age appropriate". What even is that? I say it's utter nonsense. I follow two fashion bloggers, both of whom are upwards of 60 and have embraced their natural silver hair. They are stunning. They wear the latest trends. Do they look ridiculous? No, they do not. And why? Because while trendy, they choose a certain level of sophistication that ensures they don't look like the old saying "mutton dressed as lamb". Embrace your age. You're never going to be any younger than at this moment. 

Taste in clothes: This is a tricky one. I'm not talking about good taste or bad taste. I'm just talking about your individual style preferences. There are definitely women who have very particular taste in clothes and they know exactly what they like and dislike. If you are one of these women, congratulations! It's a good thing. But I am firmly convinced that many of us default to "safe" when it comes to taste. It's what makes us say things like "I don't do prints". Which is kind of silly when you think about it because there are what, like a million different kinds of prints in the world? You hate them all? No, it's just that you're not sure if they would look good on you so you stay with "safe" choices like solids in neutral colors. Embrace the wide world of color, texture and pattern. You may be pleasantly surprised by how uplifted you'll feel.

So the next time you walk into a boutique like ours, please consider just trying on something outside of your usual comfort zone. The worst that can happen is you won't like it. The best that can happen is you'll love it. What have you got to lose?