Clothing probably isn’t the first thing that springs to mind when you hear the word “self care” – even when viewing this word through a holistic lens, as simply practices which support your physical and mental wellbeing.
I certainly never used to view clothes this way. In fact, I used feel guilty spending money on clothes. Fashion sometimes felt frivolous – akin to vanity. Something which I loved, but felt I shouldn’t. A guilty pleasure, if you will.
However, over the years I began to notice how much the clothes I wore impacted the way I felt. There were some outfits that I reached for over and over again. These were clothes made me feel happy, confident and beautiful when I put them on in the morning but then allowed me to go about my day without thinking much about the actual clothes themselves. They reflected my individual sense of style, enhanced my life and allowed me to pursue other important things without getting in the way.
Then there were others, which might (or might not) look good, but which didn’t make me feel particularly confident. They might be uncomfortable. They made me feel self conscious, didn’t reflect my sense of style, were worn out or didn’t fit properly. Whatever the reason, these outfits were constantly on my mind. I would find myself tugging at them or slouching to hide the aspect of the outfit that I didn’t like. I’m sure you’ve experience similar niggles in one form or another – shoes that blister, skirts that feel too short, dresses that feel too tight.
The more I noticed how clothes make me feel, as well as how they look, the more I’ve come to view them as a form of self care. I’ve come to realise that clothing is an integral part of our identities and what we choose to wear impacts our mood in a similar way to exercise, food or relaxation. After all, we all have get dressed every day. Below, I’ve shared a few things I like to consider when choosing clothes from a place of self care. I hope they help you.
Stop waiting for the thing
I think many of us feel that we only deserve to invest in our wardrobes when we get the job, the partner, the house, are a certain size or insert blank. However, you deserve to feel beautiful in what you wear right now. No matter what. It’s not easy at first, but by acting “as if” and choosing clothes which makes you feel great about yourself right now, I can tell you from experience, that it makes a big difference to your overall confidence.
Does it feel like your style?
I distinctly remember one of my colleagues had this amazing sense of style. She would put together the most random combinations which just worked and looked incredible on her. One day she wore this beautiful pink top with gauzy sleeves to work. I though it was beautiful and when I noticed the same top in a shop window a few days later I went straight in and bought it (on an impulse, of course). Unfortunately it wasn’t my best clothing related decision and I ended up wearing it only once or twice. It was a good lesson in buying something that didn’t feel like me and taught me that sometimes it can be enough to admire someone else’s outfit and sense of style without feeling the need to replicate it.
Is it practical?
Most women’s secret weaknesses are shoes or bags. As you may have noticed, mine is dresses. Oh yes, sometimes kind that you can wear on a daily basis but more often than not, also those impractical ones that you only wear to events. The beautiful detailing, silhouettes and fabrics get me every time. While there’s nothing wrong with buying a going out outfit from time to time, I found I was buying a disproportionate amount of them compared with the events that I could actually wear them to. As a result my day-to-day wardrobe was sorely lacking – not to mention that these dresses were certainly not getting 30 wears. Getting dressed each day suddenly became much easier I began focusing on buying clothes I loved which actually fitted my lifestyle and daily styling needs.
When it comes to considering whether an outfit is practical I would also consider things such as whether an outfit constricts movement, how much walking you will have to do it it and the weather conditions. That said, it is fun to have a few impractical but show stopping pieces to wear every so often.
Is it comfortable?
Ok, I get that heels are never quite going to be as comfortable as runners or a ball gown as comfortable as sweat pants. However, overall, does it feel comfortable to wear? Do you find yourself tugging at it because it’s not sitting right, falling down or digging in? Does it restrict your movement in a way which would interfere with your daily activities (pencil skirts, I’m looking at you). When you put it on can you forget about it an go about your day or is the outfit constantly on your mind?
Analyse outfits you love
A great place to start is with the outfits in your wardrobe that you already love. Why do you like them? What colours or prints are you drawn to? What pieces are they made up of?
Does it fit properly?
Who else has bought an item of clothing in the wrong size just because it was “on sale” or because you think it’s “close enough” but then had it sit in your cupboard unused? I’m certainly guilty of this. Sewing as a hobby has made me cognisant of how fit can really impact a garment’s overall appearance – just think of a perfectly tailored suit. If there are items with you love which don’t fit correctly, can you get them altered? When buying an outfit, really think about whether it fits you correctly.
I’m sure we’ve all experienced the slightly self conscious experience of being under or overdressed (I’m normally in the latter category – I would love to master the art of cool, casual dressing) so thinking about whether there is a dress code can help with this. That said, I would use a dress code as guidance but not something to stress over. There’s often a lot of leeway when it comes to these sorts of things and accessories and shoes can dress outfits up or down.
How does it feel overall?
Before I buy something or when I’m choosing an outfit to wear I like to check in with how it’s making me feel in general. All of these factors are important – but at the end of the day I believe that you’ll know intuitively whether it’s right for you.