Show Them What You’re Working With

Style is so much more than clothing, makeup, scarves and jewelry. Style is the love child born out of self-discovery and self-promotion. Style is a reflection of your life and personality and the starting point at which people judge you.

Now, I know that last sentence may have some of your backs up a bit. You’re saying, I don’t give a rat’s ass if people judge me and furthermore I dress for myself, no one else. But here’s the thing. You don’t get a choice. People do judge, but I am talking more about judging as a taking in of information. The way people perceive you changes how they interact with you. So if your “I don’t care what you think of me” attitude is reflected in your outward appearance, that is your signature style and that’s perfect if it’s perfect for you.

So how does one create a signature look? Let’s start with your wardrobe.

Pick out your top five outfits. Now view them as if you have never set eyes on them before. Look at them the way a detective would view a crime scene. What does each look say about the scene? What connections do you see between looks? What pops? What makes you want to find out more? Now write it down like the findings of an exploratory surgery.

Now for the tag line. A tag line, kind of sums it all up. Think Real Housewives style (If you’ve never watched any of the Real Housewives series, you are seriously missing out on some delicious bad television). Now, indulge me. It will be fun, I promise. There will be chocolate at the end. Turn around and envision a camera behind you, a close up shot. Now turn around and look straight into the camera, show the camera an object in your hand that represents you. Your mascot if you will. For me it would be a giant bobby pin. Now, speak your tag line into that camera.

Here’s mine. “I’m Sarah and even when I’m off stage, I’m a star.” I always have a bit of flair, my girlfriend constantly chides that she thought she was getting into a relationship with a lesbian, not a drag queen. I just bat my lashes and say, “I’m the only me, I know how to be.”

Media has bastardized the importance of style in a woman’s life. It’s not important to be fashionable, it is important to be self-aware. The exploitation of our hips, our eyes, our feet, our you-name-it, has made the idea of dressing for others into a multibillion dollar industry and a way of belittling women all at the same time.

So how do you find your own style amongst the hottest trends, the most on point fashion tips? You don’t. That’s not finding anything, that is imitating. Signature looks are the product of manipulating creative expression, not mimicking the masses. On the contrary however, picking a popular item doesn’t make you a follower. It shows that you simply like aviators.

To some dressing and accessorizing comes naturally, to others not so much. It’s easy to feel frustrated and just throw your hands up and buy some blue jeans and plain white shirts. But if you would like to work on stretching a bit, here’s a good exercise to help you get your fashion firing on all cylinders.

Now, refer to the paragraph you wrote earlier about what you detected from your top five outfits. Focus on what you liked about your findings. Be on the lookout for wardrobe pieces that embellish that statement. As for your findings on things you didn’t like as much, re write that sentence. Write another sentence that you wish you found in your profile and start looking for pieces that fit that woman.

The hard part, of course, is to embrace risk. Don’t be afraid to truly express yourself. Just like Madge said, “Express what you’ve got, baby ready or not.”

Why not use all the tools available to communicate to the world? Style is simply one way that doors are opened or closed for you.

Look, we all have goals. We all have aspirations and they are all unique unto ourselves. But the one binding factor to everyone success in life is communication. Why not use all the tools available to communicate to the world? Style is simply one way that doors are open or closed for you. One way that you announce yourself before ever saying a word. One way that you can have 100 % control of what you are presenting. So when you think style, think communication.

Now, to the really important part. I promised you chocolate. So far there is no sign of a free chocolate coupon anywhere in this essay. I guess you could say, that’s just my style.

Sarah McPeck

I am a lesbian stand up comic, from Minneapolis, MN. I am also an improvisation instructor at The Brave New Workshop-Student Union, our nations oldest improv theater.

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