Rule #1: Just because it comes in your size doesn’t mean you should wear it.
Someone once said to me that I could never be president because my name (and by extension the rest of me) was too girly. Up until that moment I had never considered a political career, and had a moment of wanting one for pure spite. As we have seen this is never a good idea. But that comment stayed with me for a very long time until I realized that it was absolute bunk. There was nothing wrong with me then and there is certainly nothing wrong with me now. I am a “girly girl” though I hate that term as it always feels like a veiled insult. I love clothes and the freedom of expression they give me. I enjoy the transformative aspect of fashion, I can be who I want to when I want to be depending on my mood. This does not mean I am not a serious person, or that I judge others based on their appearance. This is just who I have been from my earliest memories of fighting my mother on what I wanted to wear.
Over the years I’ve developed my own style code. As I’ve taught classes to performers about public image, and helped nonperformers define their own style I’ve gradually developed a set of rules that I like to call Bailey’s Rules of Life, Love & Style. Personal style should be just that, personal. Unique to you and your life. While it’s always important to be aprorpriate to the occaision, it’s just as important to be true to your personal style code. Clothing is meant to compliment who we are not hide it. With that I bring you rule number one...
Just because it comes in your size doesn’t mean you should wear it.
Fit can mean a lot of things. There’s physical fit. Is it too big? Is it too small? Do the proportions work on my body? Is it flattering? This is important but there are other almost more important meanings to the term fit...
*Does this fit my idea of who I am and who I want to be? Clothing is powerful because it tells people something about you without saying a word. What do you want to say with your outfit? What do you want people to know about you? Does the garment in question say that?
*Does this fit the way I feel? How do you feel when you put on a particular article of clothing? Does it make you feel good? Does it give you confidence? Does it feel like “you”? Our clothes have an emotional effect on us for both good and ill. Life’s too short to wear clothes that make you feel bad.
*Does this fit my life? Am I buying this item because it truly makes me feel great and confident in my own skin? Or am I buying it because it’s “on trend”? On sale? Someone else told me I should? If the answer to any but the first of these questions is yes, set the garment free to go to a new home. There’s nothing wrong with trends or sales or asking someone else’s opinion, but when those factors override your sense of self confidence that’s a problem.
*Does it fit the occasion? Here’s the thing, clothing is certainly about expressing oneself, but it is also a sign of respect. If your basic style is casual and you’re invited to a black tie event, it’s not okay to show up in your jeans and shrug and say “that’s just who I am”. It’s rude. But that doesn’t mean you have to show up in an overly embellished gown and torture chamber shoes. Find something with a simple cut, a fabric like silk jersey that is comfortable yet elegant, and add a pretty pair of flats. It sometimes takes creativity but you can translate your personal style code into any event.
The bottom line is that a garment that fits on all levels will make you feel great! If it doesn’t you don’t need it. If it makes you want to run for president, even better!