When I asked my Style Sisters from the January round of Stasia's Style School WHY they struggled with style, this is what they said...
"I try to emulate what others wear, but it doesn't reflect MY inner essence, so it's never quite right. I want a style that reflects MY personality."
"After the birth of my daughter and some serious weight gain, I was left wondering WHO AM I, and how in heck do I dress myself."
"I want to look in the mirror again, and like the person looking back."
"I feel like I have lost myself along the way (kids), and I'm ready to find out WHO I AM again."
"I've done a lot of heart and soul work in the last few years, and I want my outside to reflect my inside."
"I'm turning 60 this year, and I want my life to be about ME and MY choices, not what I think everyone else wants for me."
"I'm ready to stop hiding behind my clothes. I want my wardrobe to say THIS IS ME."
"I'm often frustrated of not BEING ME and not SHOWING UP."
"There is an identify confusion - WHO AM I?"
"How am I supposed to know what MY style is? It's easy to default to old clothes I've worn forever that no one will notice. But I'm sick of that. I'm sick of discomfort. I'm sick of feeling unsure of WHO I AM."
Any of that sound petty or superficial to you? Or is it the damn opposite? TRUTH, HONESTY and VULNERABILITY. Were you nodding along, saying yes YES, me too!
Listen, STYLE is NOT synonymous with "getting dressed". Getting dressed is an action. STYLE is a feeling. It's a reflection of WHO YOU ARE on the inside. I call it Inside-Out Congruency, and if you ask me, it is the absolute foundation of style.
The most beautifully curated closet in the world will feel like a complete farce if it isn't a reflection of YOUR SOUL FIRE.
Fashion magazines have missed the boat on this one, perpetuating the myth that style happens on the outside. They teach you how to fit in, and ignore what it means to truly belong.
Let's look at my daughter, Raisa, for a minute, so we can truly understand the difference between "fitting in" and "belonging".
Raisa is a bowtie wearing, blazer sporting, pattern mixing little turkey that I couldn't imagine any other way. If she followed the conventional rules of what a girl is "supposed" to wear, then she'd be WAY off the mark. Sure, she'd "fit in" with the girls if she wore tunics and headbands, but in the process of fitting in, her soul would wilt, her confidence would tank, and she'd begin to question who she was.
But when she SHOWS UP like this, shoulders back, smile beaming, and eyes smiling... she let's you know exactly who in hell she is. No pretense. No shame. No HIDING.
And BECAUSE she said NO THANK YOU to fitting in... she knows what it means to BELONG.
To BELONG is to feel LOVED for WHO YOU ARE, not for who are are pretending to be.
The problem with conventional style is that it's too damn categorical. We feel like we have to choose.
Is my style Bohemian? Artsy? Preppy? Outdoorsy? Classic? Yogi?
What happens if you're an artist who's traveling the globe in her caravan, playing classical guitar along the way, stopping off to do some sailing in Cape Code, hiking in Vermont, and some downward-facing-dogs at the nearest Wanderlust venue?
What goes into your suitcase for the haughty jaunt! Talk about an IDENTITY CRISIS!
This was my struggle for just about my whole life. I was an international traveling, tree hugging, Times Square loving, Maine girl who loved sparkly things, my clothesline and that new-car-smell. WHAT? That doesn't make sense. So, I picked "outdoorsy and sensible" and suffocated in fleece and khakis for far too many years.
I used to think that MY ROLE and the THINGS I LOVED defined my style. Except it didn't, because I couldn't chose just one role and I loved too many things. Which made me feel like a complete style failure.
I became lost, and I felt like I didn't know WHO IN HELL I WAS.
And then things changed (you can read about that HERE), and I figured out that my approach to style was all wrong.
Here's what I want you to do...
- Ask yourself WHO AM I? Grab a pen and paper and write write write until your fingers hurt. Come up with a list of words (NOT ROLES) that describe WHO YOU ARE.
- Take that list of words, and narrow it down to the top 5 words that suit you the best.
- Go to your closet, and see what you have that connects you to those words/feelings.
In other words, if one of your words was BRAVE, then go through your shirts, try them on, and see if any of them make you FEEL BRAVE. Try on your earrings, necklaces, boots, and headscarves, and ask yourself... DOES THIS MAKE ME FEEL BRAVE?
Do it over and over again. Find those things. Use your closet to help connect you to WHO YOU ARE.
It takes work. It takes practice. It takes motivation.
That's why I created Stasia's Style School. It is a framework from which to practice, with a built-in sisterhood of woman who are on the same journey. It is equal parts inspiration, motivation, and accountability. And there are lessons. OH THE LESSONS!!!
(Inside-Out Congruency is the foundation of style, but girl, you still have a body to dress!)
When you bear witness to another woman's stories and SEE her beauty, you will slowly begin to SEE your own beauty.
PS. Here's a little BEFORE/AFTER testimonial from my gal, Jennifer!
"How do I put into words the freedom I have found in Stasia’s Style School? Because that is what it has been for me. Freedom from the comments and pushback of people around me, freedom from being a prisoner to my wardrobe, freedom from the negative cassette tape in my mind. But most importantly, freedom to be exactly who I am, inside and out.
The other day I was scrolling through my pics from Style School and I thought to myself, "Wow! Look at me! I am radiant! I am even stunning!" I started to stop myself because hello! Am I that full of myself?? But no, that's not it. For just a moment I was able to see myself through soul eyes. The eyes each one of us has for one another.
My style sisters pushed me to be brave... and then braver! Thank you, Stasia, for creating this sacred space for us. It has been a glorious unveiling of some of the most beautiful and brave women I have ever met."
Jennifer, The Turquoise Tomatoe