Why Do You Wear What You Wear? - It Begins With A Thought Coaching

Why Do You Wear What You Wear?

Why Do You Wear What You Wear?Changing seasons

I like to take a minute at the end of the winter/spring to go through my clothes and see what I wore and what I didn’t and get rid of stuff that I never wore. 

The past few years I have left most of my seasonal clothes in the closet all year round-but this year I just reached this threshold where I felt like I was being suffocated by my clothes whenever I went into my closet.

So I decided to take everything winter or fall out and store it. Which led to a huge overhaul of my wardrobe. There were things hanging out that I was keeping even though they didn’t fit quite right. I was just keeping them hoping that maybe the next time I tried them on they would work.

6 hours and a huge disaster pile of craziness and a million empty hangers later, my closet feels like a whole new place. A summer paradise. Full of colorful clothes that I’m excited to wear and enough space to make it easy to find and put away my clothes, rather than having to use all of my body weight to open up a gap in order to hang something back up after I wash it.

That 6 hours with all of my clothes, plus a couple of comments clients made over the past few weeks about their clothes made me really think about clothes and what they say about our relationships with ourselves and our bodies.

Your relationship with clothes

Most of my clients have a fraught relationship with clothes because of their current body size and shape and a big fun part of their goal is to either be able to wear certain styles that they don’t wear now, or to walk into their closets and be able to put on anything and know it fits and is comfortable.

I want you to think about your current relationship with clothes by asking yourself this question:

Why do I wear what I wear?

There are reasons that come from religious, cultural principles or expectations, but for most of us, our focus is on the view of others. Most of us are wearing what we wear based on other people viewing us. What is acceptable, fashionable, attractive, and what hides the parts of us that aren’t any of those.

I realize it may seem obvious that we dress to be seen, obviously clothes are on the outside and are going to be seen. We have been taught to focus on the outside experience of our clothes and the outside experience is more for others than for you. Sure you have preferences in terms of style, color, pattern, texture, price point etc. But much of our preferences have been influenced by culture and society and have some moral undertones. You like what you like because of what is in style, age-appropriate, looks “good” on you, is the right color for you, is modest, isn’t distracting, and is professional.

I’m not saying there aren’t other reasons but I think more of our reasons are judgment based rather than rationally based, especially when we have body image and weight related insecurities.

So what is your reasoning for what you wear?

Because it is most flattering on me…which is focused on how the view of your body is perceived. Flattering is not objective. It is subjective.

Because it hides my problem areas. What makes them a problem is that you think other people seeing them will be unpleasant for them and embarrassing for you.

Because it allows me to not stand out too much. If you don’t draw attention to yourself with style, color, or pattern, people will not view you or will view you less.

Because I don’t deserve to buy anything new until I am at the size I want to be. Which means that you have decided that you can only look the way you want to look when your body is right. That deserving something or not is decided by a number on the scale. That spending money on you right now is a waste because you’re not worth it unless you’re smaller.

Because it’s what I have and I refuse to buy a different size in clothes. You are hoping the people viewing you won’t notice the view has changed if the clothes stay the same.

Because it is the only thing I can wear that fits. I have so many clients that only wear sweats or big sweatshirts or leggings or dresses or whatever, not because that is what they want to wear, but because they think it’s the only thing they can wear…like people their size can’t wear skinny jeans because they are called skinny and they are not skinny. Or they can’t wear things that button or wear pants because those things won’t fit them.

It’s the WHY that matters

If you at this point are like, no Natalie I wear dresses because I like them, or I like how they twirl or they are cooler in the summer, not because I can’t wear pants, …I am not directing this at you.

Because you are already tuned into what I want the rest of you to think about: which is not how your clothes look, how they will be perceived, what it will be like for them to be viewed and if it’s right by whatever outside standard you are judging it by…but how do they feel and how do you feel when you wear them. 

That is the WHY I would love for all of you to embrace eventually.

Because it’s the only why that matters. Someone else’s experience of your clothes has no real effect on you, unless you think about it or interpret it. Then you will experience a feeling about what you think they think. I know it sounds complicated.

It’s really not-you buy a dress because you think it accentuates your waist and hides your thighs. You walk into a room and notice someone looking at you. You think to yourself…they think I look good! You feel proud. Or alternately-you buy an oversized hoodie and some baggy sweats to cover all of it. Your whole body is a problem area in your opinion. You walk into a room and someone looks and you think-they think I look frumpy. You feel ashamed.

Now dresses and sweats do not elicit this reaction on their own…you could flip these two scenarios-walk in in the dress and think-they think I should not be wearing something this form fitting at my size and feel ashamed. Or you could walk in in your sweats and think…they wish they were wearing this too…and feel proud.

The point is…it is not the clothes. It is you thinking about you being viewed and basing how you feel on that. The anticipation of that…us being viewed in our clothes by others and what it will be like for us to have that experience is usually how we go about choosing our clothes to begin with…so the focus on being viewed runs all the way through the experience of buying, dressing in, and going out into the world in clothes.

And it also pervades our private spaces too…how often have you put on pajamas in your house and thought…if someone saw me in this I would die of embarrassment. We are already feeling a little embarrassed at the mere thought of being viewed.

So if clothes are on the outside…and I am saying the focus of being viewed is problematic…then how the heck are we supposed to think about them? What could an alternate why be?

Well just like with your body…there is an outside experience (what you look like to others, and to yourself in the mirror) and what it feels like to be inside of your body, moving around in the world.

Why do you wear what you wear? What if the answer was-because of how I feel in the clothes I wear. Not how confident or proud or sexy you feel…but how does it actually physically feel to put on, wear, move around in, sit down in the clothes you are wearing, regardless of what people see, what size is on the tag, or how you think your body should look.

Think about comfort. Think about fabric feel. Think about the weight of the clothes. Think about the weather and/or temperature. Close your eyes and just be in the clothes you are wearing right now. Is there anything physically tight or digging in or pulling when you move? Are you having to sit up straight or suck in or not bend your legs or any other unnatural position in order to be comfortable? Are you hot, cool, just right? Is anything itchy, or irritating?

If you answered yes to any of those questions…what “why” are you operating from right now? What drives you to ignore your physical comfort?

This is not a judgmental or sarcastic question…I want you to get genuinely curious about it. What is currently more important to you than your own physical comfort? And why is it more important?

This is one of the few areas where you will not hear me advocate for navigating discomfort.

I tell you all day long that when it comes to emotion, when it comes to your goal and doing the work of change…learning to allow, accept, hold space for and navigate through discomfort is key. Accepting and Processing discomfort when it comes to emotion is FOR you. It is loving and when we practice it, we grow. We move forward. We are strengthened and lifted. We say to ourselves-you matter. You are important.

But accepting discomfort when it comes to your clothes, that doesn’t serve you or move you forward or contribute to your growth. It just punishes you and disregards you and sends you the message that you aren’t important and don’t matter. Because it is not FOR you, it is AGAINST you.

What if the answer to why do you wear what you wear is because I just prefer it or I like it. Not because it fits a particular style or trend or age category. Not because it is in your correct color profile. But just because it sparked some joy in you when you saw it or it is peaceful and calming, or it represents something you are passionate about or you love how it moves.

How you feel and if you like it-those two reasons have nothing to do with your body in it’s current state. You don’t have to do anything to deserve it or afford it. No matter where you are on your journey to health and weight loss, you can dress for how you feel and what you like.

It is that simple….but it isn’t that easy. It isn’t that easy because you have lived in a world that has told you that women should or shouldn’t wear certain things. That you need to cover parts of you or that what you wear will earn you a label that you may or may not like or be accurate or treatment that may harm you.

Moving on from what you have learned

You have learned that there is a right and acceptable body to have or store to shop at or size to be and that if you don’t fit into those parameters, you don’t fit in here. You have been shown and have seen one type of woman in the media, in ads, in stores and so not seeing yourself reflected has sent the message that you don’t belong and aren’t what people want to view.

You have been encouraged to conform to certain standards and fit into a mold and do what is expected, all while disregarding the very things that matter most-how you feel, and what you want. You have been shown and told what your preferences should be, and discouraged from expressing your own. For most of your life you have been excluded from being able to even try to fit in and look “right”…because they didn’t carry your size or didn’t make the clothes you like that fit your body.

It’s important to acknowledge and work through any of this that comes up for you. It is valid.

That doesn’t mean you have to continue to operate based on what you were taught. You can learn and create a new way of operating that is supportive, generous, realistic and honors who you are right now-without having to wait until your body conforms to what you think it should.

The beauty is that the world is changing. There are fun comfortable clothes in every size and price range. Wearing what you like is more common than ever. Most of us are starting to see ourselves reflected in the world in more ways than ever before.

At the beginning of my journey to love myself no matter my size over 10 years ago-I made a decision that I was no longer going to wait for my weight. That I was going to start dressing like I wanted to not like I thought I could or should (determined by my size). 

I remember one of the first outfits I bought that branched out of my typical jeans and oversized t-shirt wardrobe…I bought some black slacks-like that business women wear. I didn’t think I had any business wearing business women clothes especially being the size I was. But I wanted to! So I bought the pants, a green floral cardigan with gold buttons and some gold jewelry (which I had never worn before because I was told at some point by someone I delegated authority to that I looked better in silver) and I even bought these cute green flats to match with a dainty little ankle strap (which I didn’t think bigger girls with bigger ankles should wear…but I wanted to so I did). 

It was the first time in my life that I just bought and wore something so very different that broke so many of my rules and norms-just because I wanted to. Now I realize this may not seem like such a rebellious outfit to you based on it’s description…but the point is not what I chose…it’s why I chose it. 

I wanted to wear it. I liked it. It was fun. Green is my favorite color. Matching shoes just for fun was my dream. And I remember loving it and being so excited about it that I wore it in February on a super snowy cold day…even though it was not very weather appropriate and even though the only place I was going that day outside of my house was to pick up my toddler from preschool. It has been an ongoing process for me since to shed the ideas and expectations and rules I always governed myself by and really learn to wear what feels good and that I like.

I don’t conform to any particular style or color palette. I don’t stay away from anything besides things that are uncomfortable or that I don’t like. I look at myself in the mirror, sure. I build outfits that I think look good together. But just for me. Based on my preference. Based on what I feel like wearing that day to that event. Not for my husband, or girlfriends or for my image on social media or for random strangers at the store. Just for me.

And you can too! Look at your reasons for your clothes now, get curious and question them, and play around with a focus on how they feel and what you like.

Check out my group coaching and see how I can help get curious with your clothes and love what you wear and how you feel wearing it!

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Natalie brown certified life and weight loss coach

Meet Natalie

I spent over 2 decades battling my weight and hating my body, before I found a solution that worked FOR GOOD. I lost 50 pounds by changing not just what I eat, but WHY. Now I help other women like me get to the root of the issue and find their own realistic, permanent weight loss success. Change is possible and you can do it. I can help you.

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