I was recently at H&M with a client when a man there was trying on a pair of jeans. He was unsure about the color, fit, or style, but he was sure about the price. "They're only 20 bucks he repeated a few times." He asked me what I thought of his great find. Unfortunately, the fit of the oversized skinny jeans made his minimal rear end completely disappear, the color wasn't wonderful and as for his personal style…. well I couldn't get past how terrible the fit was. His friend even came in and said, "Dude, you have a weird butt!" After asking my opinion again, I suggested pants with a pocket flap that visually fill out his lower half and balance the top half. "But they're only 20 bucks!" he said again. Have you ever been caught up in the "they're only 20 bucks" syndrome? In the end, it doesn't matter how great a deal the item was, if it doesn't look good on you, it will end up costing you valuable real estate in your closet and will likely contribute towards a closet full of confusion. Without having a plan, many will go out and buy single items because they are inexpensive, but these purchases cost them in the end. No matter how inexpensive the pants are, if you never wear them, you paid too much! That’s not economical. The solution is to begin shopping with a plan, a defined Cluster Plan.
7 Steps to Building a Better Wardrobe:
I watched Spiderman 2 last night with my kids. I love costumes in movies and how they reflect the emotions the characters are going through. As you know, Harry Osborne, Spiderman’s best bud, makes a transformation from preppy college student to businessman to a rebellious criminal, and his clothing reflects the change. When watching the movie, what he is wearing blends so well with the attributes of the character that you hardly notice the clothes. Harry is the college student because he looks and acts like one. Take away the costume or change his appearance and it becomes much harder to sell the character. Are we much different than the characters in the movies? Do we not have our own unique roles and goals? Just as the actor's appearance puts him into character, our appearance has a direct impression on how we, not only look and are perceived by others, but also by how we feel about ourselves.
Below Harry (right) and Peter (left) are on a college campus. Harry's clean hair cut, slim fit jacket, narrow tie and vest show that he is young, hip, and has money. Which are all true characteristics of Harry during this scene.
Below, Harry is speaking in the board room to a group of older men. His dark suit, white shirt and dark tie communicate that he is in authority, which he is. He was just made president of the company with his father's passing.
In this last picture, Harry is rebelling against the company and being escorted out by guards. What's he wearing? A leather jacket and t-shirt. Remind you of anyone else?
How about the "Rebel Without A Cause"?
So how does this movie end? Well Spiderman wins, of course, and Harry ends up in jail….for the moment. But as the audience, we completely buy the transformation of Harry from college kid to deranged villain. Dane DeHaan, the actor who plays Harry, is talented and performed well in the movie. Consider how talented he would have appeared had the costumes been switched….dark leather jacket and tee as the college student and clean cut preppy blazer and tie as the criminal about to be put in jail. The messages would have been confusing, would conflict with the character's role, and would not be believable.
The moral of this story? Your self-presentation tells others what you're about, what your roles and goals are. The problem is that so many can't get out of their own way enough to see what others are seeing and refuse to acknowledge the affect their appearance has on themselves. If you feel like you are sending mixed messages, book our Personal Style Clinic to get a fresh look at who you want to be and how to get there.
Unfortunately, stereotypes are alive and well. If you don't want to be seen as a stereotype, then don't dress like one.
Image consultant and personal stylist. Dani is happily married, the mother of 3 charming children, and an Aussie named Josie Wales.