Fashion Empowerment (10 ways to feel better in your clothes)
© photos from Olivia Locher > http://olivialocher.com/
I love clothes and I hate the ones that constraint me. On a daily basis I need to feel free and comfortable in my clothes in order to feel good and successful out there. Especially if I'm working - I'm wearing sneakers, period.
You may go crazy if you start thinking about how female clothing is designed to constraint our bodies. I'm not even talking about corset or spandex ! Everyday women have to deal with bra straps that leave marks on their shoulders, shoes that give feet and back problems, tight leggings that are impossible to take off, pencil skirts that put pressure on their stomachs...
We are in 2017 and the ready-to-wear industry is still made to make women feel ill inside their mind and bodies.
I want to share with you 10 ways you can empower yourself by wearing the right clothes today (or not wearing anything at all !!). I will emphasis on "office" clothes because it's obviously the place where what you are wearing is the most dictated (if you work for home you don't really need to wear a pencil skirt, right ?)
1. BE COMFORTABLE
When I'm in the tube during rush hours I'm absolutely impressed by the women who are wearing high heels. I can't figure out how they deal with that during an entire day.
Being comfortable doesn't mean that you have to wear yoga pants to go to the office (and anyway, don't ! Yoga pants are for yoga, period.) A comfortable outfit is something that makes you feel comfortable in your skin. It's from finding the right size, fabric and fit, to the color and shape that enhance your natural self.
I can't tell you there is a magic piece of clothe that will fit to every women. Finding your style and the fit, colors, and fabrics that compliment you, is a process. Unfortunately, the ready-to-wear industry is not helpful because everything is made for a certain type of body which features a certain type a measurements. Fashion is still forcing women's bodies to fit into a dictated law as if we were still in 1890 when women had to wear this "hourglass" figure corset ! But instead of the physical corset that could hide a little fatness, women have to starve themselves to put on their skinny denim.
In a ideal world you would simply design and tailor your own wardrobe, but in the reality you can alter the ready-to-wear clothes. For example when I buy a coat at Zara, the sleeves are always too long cause I'm too short compared to their models. I have to tailor each of my coats. This doesn't really change the way I feel in it, but it just fits my body better. You can apply do it for everyone of your clothes that don't fit you exactly how you would like them to fit (pants, skirts, dresses, shirts, jackets...)
2. DOWNSIDE YOUR WARDROBE
What's worst than having a closet full of clothes, shoes and accessories and not knowing what to wear (and be late at work because of that) ?
Again, I love clothes. I'm a costume designer so I love fabrics, vintage pieces and really cool shoes (and sneakers !!). But I haven't been more happier since I've moved to London with just one suitcase. I didn't give up the pieces I love, but if I know that I'll never wear them, they go in my costume's stock or in a special garment like my wedding dress. Building a "capsule wardrobe" (and this is trendy these days) for each season is something that will make you feel freer and happier on a daily basis. If you build a wardrobe where each piece of clothes can go with another, you'll build a better visual identity and it will be easier to dress in the morning. Plus, you won't feel tempted to shop. Every time you'll want to buy new clothes, you'll have to ask yourself if it will fit in your wardrobe.
3. TRENDS ? WHAT FOR ?
Wear what fit you and what you like. This seems like an "easy" advice but I see so many women that buy clothes that don't enhance themselves. If you buy an expensive piece from a famous designer it is NOT making you look more successful or powerful. What makes you feel like a strong woman is being comfortable wearing what you like and what makes you look yourself.
I remember wearing high-waist pants when the low-waist trend was up. Well, low-waist denim jeans look terrible on me cause I'm small, I have a small waist and large hips. I'm not going to change that (even if I wanted to, that would not be possible). So I've embraced the high-waist thing. Sometimes it was difficult to find it so I had to thrift denims or vintage capri pants. Now the high-waist trend is back and I'm happy about it - it gives me more choices.
So whatever the bullshit fashion magazine laying on your office desk tells you to buy, just buy what you like. Or don't buy at all. That's great too !
4. MINDFUL SHOPPING
I don't want to shame women for what they are buying. If the ready-to-wear industry is exploiting humans/nature/animals, it's not essentially the women and shoppers fault.
However, I think it's important to be mindful about who you are giving your money to. If the people who made the t-shirt you just bought were in front of you, you would have probably not bought it. Look at the tags. If the t-shirt was made in China, India, Cambodia, it was probably made by a child or an enslaved adult who might be working in a dangerous environment. Do you want to support that ?
Each of us has different types of sensibility about that. I'm not blaming anybody because I know I'm the first one, in my job, to buy cheap non-quality clothes that are made in China. I have to do it because most of the TV budgets don't allow you to buy high standard clothes made in Europe. It also makes sense to go to H&M when you need to dress a certain type of character but I'm trying to be mindful of what I'm buying when it's for me.
I also have boundaries. I'll never ever buy new real fur. I've bought vintage fur coats in the past because it was second-hand so it doesn't really affect the industry if I buy something made twenty years ago. I would not buy a real fur coat today even if I had to. I would still try to go for a fake but good looking one. It is more difficult to do that with leather, but again, we have to deal with ourselves and set our boundaries.
5. CHOOSE QUALITY
Quality is mostly about fabrics. If you don't know the difference between polyester, viscose and silk, then let me know and I could write a post about it.
Again, not everybody is equal on that. Some women don't like wool sweater cause it hitches them. So even though an acrylic sweater will never be as warm as a wool sweater, they would prefer to buy that. And that's ok. But have you consider buying cashmere ?
You might say this is overpriced compare to what you expected to buy, but think about it : if you own three very warm and comfortable sweaters with the right colors that enhance your skin tone.... how many sweaters do you need for the winter season that lasts around three to four months in a year ?
This goes for everything else. Why do you buy ten polyester £20 blouses when you can have two nice silk ones that would match with all your pants and skirts ? They will last longer, look better and be much more comfortable (silk is a temperature regulator).
6. NO BRA
I have chosen to not wear a bra anymore. I could not feel better and my boobs thank me everyday.
I'm not saying that you should ditch your beautiful laces bras but try to wear a bralette or a sport bra sometimes to see the difference (or don't wear any of it !!)... You'll probably never wear a bra again. F*** the patriarchy that is telling you that your nipples are inappropriate. Men and women have nipples... what's the big deal ?
Same for the bottom. Some women would prefer cotton panties, other ones would rather like seamless ones. You don't have to endure laces itchy sexy underwear just because society tells you that it's what women should wear. (Don't make me wrong, I love Princesse Tam-Tam and every single one of their collections, but I realize how better I feel with just simple Uniqlo seamless panties). Choose your game... or don't... and switch whenever you feel like you want to.
7. EXPRESS YOURSELF
Again, this is about wearing the things YOU like.
What's your favorite color ? Who's your secret woman-crush ? What type of person you want to be ? Just wear it.
I love pink (I know you know lol) and I almost wear pink everyday (or at least I have pink nails). I don't care if it's not trendy. I like it and it makes my skin looks good.
You want to look joyful, fun and easygoing ? What is the outfit that makes you feel this way ? What is the color that brings you joy ? What is the fabric that you would consider easygoing ? Draw this person in your mind. What is she wearing ?
8. NO PURSE
I love this new backpack trend. My back is so happy about it too. I have recently decided to ditch all of my handbags. I didn't have so many anyway, mostly really small cross-body clutches (which I kept cause they don't hurt me). I used to carry my computer on one shoulder. And if you take my measurements you can see exactly which shoulder it is. Handbags are a real torture, as much as high heels and spandex. When you have a real cool expensive handbag, you will feel the need to fill it with all sorts of things (make-up, toothbrush, goodies, notebooks, pens, big wallet with all kind of membership cards that you never use, hand cream, photos, umbrella, phone, phone charger, etc...). Yet, guys go outside without bags frequently. You could say it's because they always have pockets (see => political history of pockets) or you could say because they don't feel the need to have anything else than : credit card, phone and keys.
Now I often go outside ever without a bag, or a very small cross body clutch (i can literally only fit these 3 things in it), or a backpack. It makes me feel so much more unlimited and open-handed.
9. BE VERSATILE
What's worst than going to an event without the appropriate outfit ?
If you design your wardrobe with outfits that you'll feel comfortable in every situations, you will feel more independent. You won't feel the need to go shopping every single days and you'll feel more confident in your shoes.
I guess basics are the great go-to for most of the people. Brands like COS, Uniqlo, &Other Stories, Agnès B, Massimo Dutti (these are NOT sponsorships - just middle-range brands I use for trendy office & business silhouettes) are really easy to switch from office wear to semi-formal wear. If you are confident wearing your black dress / grey stockings / black laced flats or ballerinas / tailor coat or trench coat / to the office, you can wear that in every occasion. If it's a party and you don't feel formal enough, add a red lipstick and a statement necklace/earrings. Again, you are the one who defines what's formal and what's not. If you feel confident and comfortable in your own skin, nobody would ever think that you are not wearing the proper outfit. It's all about that confidence.
10. HAVE FUN
Seriously, dressing and choosing clothes should be fun. Like eating, walking in the street, going out and every thing else you do in life.
If you can't find a way to make it fun and appealing, you'll never feel confident and successful about it.
I hope this article was useful and I would love to read your comments and feedback.
I really think fashion should be about gaining confidence and having fun. It should never be about feeling bad about our bodies and self-limited. I will never promote this kind of thing here and in my work. When i do fittings with actors and actresses, I want them to feel comfortable before anything else. You'll never ever feel confident with a broken heel, tight shoes or the wrong size.
If you want to go further, I've found this really cool article written by Lucy Rycroft-Smith who talks about her experience of only wearing men clothes and how it made her realize that the world doesn't want women to get too comfortable in their clothes.