I'm speaking to high school students in a fashion merchandising class. One of the students in the class does not look happy to be there. With his baseball cap hung low, nearly covering his eyes, and a dark baggy sweatshirt and jeans, he avoids all eye contact. During the presentation, I pass out a blank square of paper and ask the students to write down what they want to communicate before they ever speak a word. "Think of an instance when you want someone to accept your ideas and take action. In one or two words, what do you want that person to know about you?" I say. The students write down one or two key words. Some write words such as capable, successful, creative, confident, a few notes have a dollar sign written on them. When our under enthused student notices that I'm walking around collecting the papers, he quickly grabs a marker from the class marker jar and writes, "I want to look like myself". I'm thrilled! Not only does he write something, but what he writes is exactly what so many people struggle with. In a world of nebulous dress codes, fast fashion, and pressure to look current with quickly changing trends, it can be hard to actually be you and be taken seriously without becoming an imitation of someone else.
Judy Garland said it well....
There's only one you! No one else on the planet will have the same fascinating combination of matter that makes up who you are. The lion in the Wizard of Oz adds richness and variety to the movie because he looks like the lion he is and also the lion he is aspiring to be. Remember the flower pot crown scene? How odd would he feel and act if he were to put on the tin man costume. No way would he look as good as the tin man...and the movie would seem redundant with two of them. Being you can be fabulous, wonderful, powerful and absolutely harmonious. It's not about standing out or getting noticed, this usually ends with you looking silly or like you're trying too hard. No, it's about taking the "uniquely you" features and repeating them in your clothing. Is about learning how to make the elements of design speak for you.
It's those who understand how to look genuine, how to emphasize their eyes and powerful facial features, that will instill immediate confidence in others.
- Dani Slaugh
If my sweatshirt wearing friend holds to his belief in being genuine and becomes confident enough in himself to help others, who knows? Maybe he'll be the kid who comes to the 20 year reunion as a successful CEO who everyone asks, "Is that you? The kid who looked down all the time, hiding under a baseball cap?" Maybe one day he'll see in himself what I see. A lion who's about to take off the hat.
Which is what I love most about my job, the transformation process...watching my people become the very best version of themselves.
Image consultant and personal stylist. Dani is happily married, the mother of 3 hip kids, and owner of an young pup named Josie Wales.