There are entire industries built around creating the right “style.” Interior designers craft inside spaces, exteriors can be landscaped, xeriscaped, gardened and beautified. You can go to a trichologist, a barber, or a hairdresser to have the top of your head done up a plethora of ways. Personal shoppers, stylists and coaches can help you buy the accessories to portray what you want, and many of us will spend hours picking the right pieces to go in our wardrobes. Is your look at work different than your weekend look? What do you wear to a formal event? Do you have a “look that you’re going for?” How do you go about getting it?
For many of us, how we portray ourselves- our style- is a cognitive decision. We darn our garb, do our hair, use whatever cosmetics we might use and go out into the world. Whether or not it is a cogitative decision, we do give impressions based on our personal styles. How we adorn ourselves gives most everyone an idea of who we are, and frequently how they will treat us, for better or for worse. When I was working my last vanilla office job, I went out of my way to temper my personal style. I crafted my wardrobe to downplay my features with a focus on comfort and blending in. While I certainly didn’t lie about who I am, I made the decision not to go out of my way to display my individuality in that professional academic setting. Choosing a significantly more conservative style assisted me in my goal to focus on work and not cause ripples where I just wanted still water. At the same time, I was starting more work as writer, producer and performer. For months, a picture of my face ran in an ad for my alternative advice column in a local weekly newspaper. Even though I live in a fairly small community, I was amused and pleased by the fact that I was never recognized as the person in the pictures, or as the administrator from the office, even though there was cross over on both ends. I saw the duality of style, at the time, as a necessary evil.
Is your style in your own hands? If so, are you projecting what you’re hoping to? AliceSin Aerie recently wrote an article here at Fearless Presson dressing appropriately for play parties. The message extends beyond just parties though- we all seem to understand that dressing well for interviews is the thing to do, but perhaps neglect our style in other areas. When is the last time you considered what shirt you were going to wear to dinner? Do you wear your hair (and/or makeup) the same way every day? There’s certainly nothing wrong with sticking to one style as long as it’s a cognitive choice.
My proposal to you gentle readers, is to try something new with your style this week. Make a cognitive choice that is a bit out of your comfort zone. It can be something simple- try doing your shopping in something other than your work or casual clothes, wear a bit more color, try something new with your hair, wear something different (be it something or nothing) to bed- a simple but potentially profound change. See how that change makes you feel. Making cognitive choices about how we chose to represent ourselves to the world can change how we see the world.
Originally posted April 22, 2011