It’s not only a new year, but a whole new decade. 100 years ago, the 20s was known as ‘The Roaring 20s’ a decade of change that started with a roar and ended with a crash. It brought political change, flare and freedom for women and advances in science and technology. Also known as ‘The Jazz Age’ it was incredibly glamourous, and fashion was easy to wear as women wore dresses, all the time, every day, rain or shine.
A century on, things have changed, and life is now a pressure pot of fitting in, looking good and having it all. However, we are all beginning to realise what ‘having it all’ actually means. For us it’s things that are rooted in friendship, kindness and community spirit, and most of all its about how you feel as a person, and what it takes for you to fit in and feel good, about yourself.
So, we have a few tips to reset your mind on what it actually means to feel good about yourself.
Starting with “Who is judging me?”
I don’t know about you, but as I’ve grown older, I am less bothered about people seeing me without my make up on or in my slobby clothes. Yes of course its lovely to be seen freshly groomed, hair and make-up applied perfectly and wearing that new outfit. But I can guarantee I don’t bump into anyone when I’m that made up! And that’s true too! Only recently I went all out with salon fresh hair, pro makeup, groomed nails and I was wearing a fabulous new outfit too only to strut into my usual bar to find nobody there, and I mean ‘nobody’ as in not even strangers. Had I have walked in with the dog, make up free wearing baggy pants you can guarantee everyone whose anyone would be sitting outside looking fabulous.
But let’s face it, most people are actually more concerned about how they look and their own lives to be busy thinking about ours, it’s their stories that they are pondering – not ours. Realising this is quite liberating. So actually no one is judging you.
Next up, use clothes to tell a story – about you.
I’ve always had an interest in fashion, and for most of my life I’ve been unable to afford the items and brands I’ve admired, hence my desire to become a secret savvy shopper and wearer of second-hand clothes. Second-hand (or preloved as we prefer to call it) once suggested an eclectic mix of items that, well, just didn’t mix, and were most likely cheaper yet functional (and very often from a charity shops). For the past 20 years I have worn preloved clothes that have been the total opposite, they have been fabulous finds and classic pieces that never date. What you wear tells a story about who you are, and most of all how you want others to think and feel about you.
Think of what you wear as your daily costume, it’s OK to wear different costumes depending on how you feel and what you’re doing that day. I love that about clothes, I love that you can become a different person depending on what you choose to wear! Most people fall into wearing the same costume and style all the time and as a result become ‘type cast’. The trick is to be brave and try something that reflects how you want to be perceived.
A few weeks ago, I wore a pair of very stylish (pre-owned) Vivienne Westwood shoes and all I was doing was nipping into town. I got stopped and complimented on my shoes and my whole look by a complete stranger. Nice. That lifted my day and made me feel good about myself.
So, what is success?
That’s a big one to answer. Ask different people and they will give you different answers depending on where in the world they live. I admire a lot of people I consider successful, who appear richer, more powerful and have achieved more than me, but I am so grateful for my own achievements too even if they are much smaller than other people’s. I’ve made time to achieve things that bring me joy in my work and home life too, and those things have enriched my life so to me that’s success!
Connections – much better in person.
We’ve all witnessed the digital age emerge and take over our lives. Technology has made us far better connected and at the same time less connected as human beings. I’m one for picking up the phone, speaking to someone face to face, meeting for a coffee, walking over to someone rather than sending an email. I much prefer to look in a person’s eyes if I want to talk about a matter that’s important. As I have grown older, I no longer like big groups or noisy rooms, and that’s OK.
Ageing, what’s wrong with it?
There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to look younger but getting older is brilliant. Experience and knowledge have changed my perceptions of the world around me and the people in it. When I am feeling stressed, I ask myself “What’s the worst that can happen?”.
People say to me I am looking younger as I age, and I would probably agree. That’s because I take greater care of what I choose to wear, how I wear my hair, my daily skin routine, what I put in my body and the makeup I wear too. All of these things have changed in the last 5 years, (I even consider my glasses to be part of my outfit so choosing the right eyewear is really important).
I hear in the shop people wishing they were younger to be able to wear a certain item we have for sale. I tell them it’s how you wear it and what with that makes the difference, as long as we respect our life-stage I think we can wear whatever we want.
Trends and fast fashion.
I grew up in the 70s in a working class family, so my mother had my clothes and my school uniform made by a neighbour as cash was tight. I remember feeling very proud in a dress that was made from an old pair of curtains! (can you imagine the average 12 year old accepting that today!).
The concept of fast fashion has made most things very affordable for everyone. But fashion is getting faster than ever as brands crave customer loyalty by driving new trends and increasing manufacture, and that’s bad for our planet as we are literally throwing away over 235 million items every year in the UK alone. People in the fashion industry have been calling for more clothes recycling in order to protect the environment.
The best way to refresh your wardrobe is to swap or sell your clothes, or give them to charity shops, by ignoring the trends you can invest in pieces that never date. Spending a bit more on an item that is well made is a good investment and changing its look with a simple scarf or a different pair of shoes is key to achieving versatility. Buying a preowned item for a bargain price is also extremely satisfying and makes you feel great!
Social media – the boiling pot of everything.
The clue is in the title – social. Unfortunately, very often social media is used for the exact opposite making people even more antisocial. The things people feel they can say to someone behind a keyboard is astonishing and we’ve all seen friendships and relationships ruined by social media use.
Used correctly social media is a fantastic tool for keeping in touch with people you might otherwise not see that often (or at all!). It’s also great for networking and research too. And as for business many (including my own shop) thrive on it, so it’s about how and when you use it that’s important.
When you’re using social media think of it as driving a car, don’t be reckless, consider others on the road and be polite, always.
Confidence and authenticity.
Be yourself, be true to yourself and always be honest. Respecting other people’s opinion is key but respecting your own and not seeking the approval of others is even better. That said it’s always good to take a friend shopping for an honest opinion on ‘that dress’ and to ask that all important question “Does my bum look big in this?”.
I wrote this blog because all of this is what I love about Dress, with its inviting (now famous) pink door and community spirit, our little shop of preloved items (that have already told someone else’s story) has become a place to meet, a place to talk, a place to try on new things you might otherwise overlook or not feel confident trying on. It’s a place with a real sense of belonging and authenticity.
People ask me all the time – “Why did you open a shop when retail is at an all-time low?” I have a stock answer: Dress is the kind of shop people want to shop in, it’s where you’re made to feel welcome, be yourself and take your time to find something that reflects you. No one comes into Dress with a specific idea of what they want to buy, and I love that. It connects people through fashion and people actually chat whilst browsing, even when they have never met each other before.
Whatever your hopes for 2020, I hope the new decade brings you lots of good feelings about yourself.
Happy New Year.