The most hilarious Christmas-themed commercial I’ve seen this season is from the Georgia Lottery about unwanted gifts. Often, these gifts are either clothing or accessories that we know we would never wear.
It’s hard to buy gifts for some people, especially when it comes to style. But what about when you’re unsure of how to best shop or dress for your style, size, and personal preferences. I find shopping to be exhausting, and my unhappiest shopping memories by have been (and still are) for shoes. I’ve been wearing a women’s size 11 shoe since I was 11 years old. My feet don’t always look that big (it depends on the shoe style), but they got wider as became an adult. It seems that many retailers (or shoe manufacturers) do not make beautiful, stylish women’s shoes above a certain size. Sometimes it’s the brand or manufacturer. Sometimes the store will only stock a limited number of shoes over size 9. Whatever the case, it’s always been rough. I’ve heard the same kind of complaints from others regarding finding stylish clothes for plus size girls and women. It’s a great opportunity for a designer to get into, because there’s such a void in the fashion market for it.
I realize that I have a lot of plain-jane clothes like one-color hoodies, shirts and ribbed turtlenecks, and they have me in a fashion rut of sorts. Only with my recent weight loss have I started to consider buying new clothes for myself. So I was excited to find out that one of my favorite stylists* and What Not to Wear co-host Stacy London has written another book this year: The Truth About Style (Viking) goes into depth about some of the psychology of how we dress, indecisiveness, how the way we feel about ourselves and others’ opinions and judgments of us influence how we dress, and why we choose (or refuse to choose) to give weight to those beliefs and opinions.
Stacy starts off spending time getting personal about her self-esteem issues and battles with weight and psoriasis as a girl, as well as her status as a never-married, childless woman in her 40s (which is very common these days, despite what mainstream entertainment conveys). As she takes 9 women through personal styling consultations, she reflects her commonality with many of their issues, and gives readers a cheat sheet for how to overcome such defeatist thoughts as, “I try on pants everywhere I go and nothing fits,” or “I’m self-conscious about my __________ (fill in body part here),” or “No one looks like me.” There are also resources at the end of the book that list Stacy’s recommended list of stores and designers based on the issues described by the 9 women she styled in the book.
The book starts off with an analogy between style and the first rule of improv, which I learned during my intro to improv class last summer:
Yes – Accept who you are and what you have. Your body is your canvas, and you have to dress for your current size and shape, not the one you used to have, or the one you’re hoping to have in the future.
And – A strategy to invest in the next step, whether it’s tailoring your clothes, investing in classic pieces, or wearing more of the types of clothes that de-emphasize (your perceived) flaws, emphasize your best features, and ultimately bring you joy.
The only things I have in common with Stacy are our wit and that perfect gray streak at the front of our heads, but I learned a lot and got thinking about my “And…” s . I loved her candor and relatability.
Someone will always be there to judge you by the way you look, without saying a word to you. But when you wear what makes you look and feel good, who cares what they think?
So what’s your “Yes, And…” when it comes to style?
*P.S. – My next 2 fashion books are going to be Rachel Zoe’s Style A to Zoe: The Art of Fashion, Beauty and Everything Glamour and June Ambrose’s Effortless Style.