Style is a very personal thing. Yet many people struggle to enjoy getting dressed and even dismiss the importance of having a personal style. I believe that creating a Style Manifesto can help us express our true selves in a creative way, save us both time and money, and help us advance in life by having more confidence.
I get that at first glance, something as fleeting and material as clothing doesn’t appear to possess any value, worth or real meaning? However, the intentionality behind anything is what defines the depth of it, whether that be in our relationships, our work, or even in our clothing.
In other words, the way you do one thing is the way you do everything including how you choose to dress.
Let me preface all this by saying that there is no judgment whatsoever. I will be the first to admit that not everyone has the luxury of choosing what they wear. There are people all over the world, including the US who go without proper clothing and shoes. This is terrible and we can all do something about it. If you have the ability to give of your overflow then go for it!
So whatever position in which you find yourself, keep in mind that at the end of the day this is just clothing.
What we wear speaks about who we are
Before we jump into talking about your Style Manifesto, let’s talk for a minute about the importance of our clothing.
I believe that our clothing and style is an extension of who we are, what we believe, and what we want to communicate about ourselves. It is an extension of our cultural, communal, and tribal influences. It is an extension of our political, religious, and socio-economic beliefs. The way we dress is a cumulation of our history, our travel, our marital status, parental status, vocation, and stage of life.
This is why you will often see people like this little lady here, Sara Berman, who kept her home, her closet, and her wardrobe in gloriously fastidious order. She lived what she believed and how she manifested her identity in this world was a part of what made her so unique.
Style as old as time
Style and dress have been around for a long time. People have always dressed in specific ways to communicate specific things about themselves. Kings wore crowns, purple, and sable. Prophets wore camel hair and leather. Prisoners wore stripes, all white, all neon, or all black.
Crips, blue. Bloods, red. Asses and elephants the same. Teeny boppers wore cuffed Levi’s and saddle shoes. Artists wore blue smocks.
Soccer players sport their team colors with pride never, ever to be confused with their rivals. Professors wear corduroy blazers with suede elbow patches. Shepherds in the mountains of Kazakhstan dawn ceremonial peasant garments to show the world what they do. Johnny Cash was the man in black until he became a born-again Christian and became the man in white. And young, middle-class college girls all over America wear oversized t-shirts with running shorts and Birkenstocks.
We all belong to a tribe. We all have something to say whether we acknowledge it or not. You have a style and that style says something about you. By creating your Style Manifesto you can take all of these things into account and ultimately find more clarity about who you are and how you communicate that through what you wear.
Being judged on appearances
Unfortunately we live in a world where we are judged all the time based on our appearance. I’m not saying this is fair. It’s a fact of life that we all have to deal with.
We are judged and we judge. It sucks.
There is a solution to this problem. One, stop judging people based on their appearance. Two, let go of what others think about you. The third piece of this puzzle? Dress in a way that makes you feel truly you.
In May I taught a style class called How To Dress Like A French Girl. One of my students talked about her style struggle, how she was passed over for promotions because she was perceived as “less professional”. After we talked about how to create her style manifesto and talked about what things worked best for her body type she decided to experiment with new styles.
She emailed me last week to say that her new uniform has been a “hit at work and a dream” for her.
Though I think it’s a shame we are judged, in many cases, by our appearance there is a way to rise above that unfortunate truth.
It’s OK to have a perspective
In creating your unique Style Manifesto, I think it’s important to give yourself the freedom to have a perspective. What do I mean by that? Don’t just choose garments based on fashion trends. What’s “en vogue” isn’t important. What is important is whether or not you like it.
You have a unique identity. Like I mentioned earlier, you have so many things that have gone into making you, you. Why not tap into that uniqueness when deciding how to express yourself?
Having a perspective is a good thing. If you know what you like and are certain of what you don’t like this will save you both time and money.
How many times have you made a purchase based on what’s “in” that season, what a friend or coworker wore, or what the magazines said you should buy? When you know your style rules, you’ll rarely be tempted to buy things that don’t really suit you.
Create your own “Style Manifesto”
Which leads me to my final point. Having a perspective means that you have to examine and define what that point of view actually is. They way you do that is by creating a Style Manifesto. This Manifesto will evolve over time and that’s to be expected. My desire is that you will consider these things more deeply so that you can really enjoy this aspect of living a creative life and save time worrying about money, clothing, and whether or not people approve of your appearance.
For the “French Girl” class I created a little workbook that helped them identify their unique style. You can download that for free by signing up below.
This manifesto will help you really zero in on what you want, what you need, what works for you, and what makes you feel most at home in yourself.
What are your biggest style struggles? Have you ever thought about what your style says about you? What makes you feel comfortable in your own skin? Leave a comment below.
And if this article helped you and you know of someone who could really use the Style Manifesto too, can you share this article?