I don't want to brag, but I've got me some style. I lean towards dresses that look like they could be made from vintage wallpaper, and I pick out pieces that look more like daydreams than clothes. I've learned how to take fashion risks. Colors like lilac and chartreuse make me want to break out in delighted claps, and all sorts of lengths and shapes are welcome when it comes to my wradrobe. I've been known to be confident in a dress that one (male, of course) coworker said looks like a blanket with arm holes, and I don't bat an eye when I cross the street in a vintage pillbox hat and poppy red lips. I treat every morning dressing up the way a five-year-old girl might when she approaches her mom's closet, already wearing messy pink lipstick and a strand of pearls: Like this is about to be some serious and exciting play time.
I've got nothing but awe for the beautiful stories clothes can help us tell, and I try to share that simple and open happiness by hopefully inspiring other people to follow suit. You know how you want to step up your game when you see a woman with an A-line dress and lilac lipstick sail past you? It makes you think, Hey, that looks like a lot of fun, and you go buy yourself those ridiculously fanciful earrings you kept telling yourself you couldn't (shouldn't) need, because why not?
But the thing is, developing your sense of style isn't just about picking out what colors to wrap yourself around that morning. It's about starting to develop a braver sense of self. Every time you share with the world how you look in the inside, outside, well, you open yourself up. You become vulnerable. And it takes courage to decide that being open and true to who you are is more interesting than hiding.
So while I can doll out advice for days on how to mold trends into something you can work with, and arm you with fashion formulas and tried and true do's and dont's, the fact is you will never begin to start getting comfortable with the idea if you don't just do it. So do it!
Want to take that first plunge into the world of madly printed dresses and look-at-me hues? Yeah you do, I know you do. But you feel too shy or too worried over all the admiring stares you'll attract on the train to work? Yeah you are, I know you are. Because at one point I was, too. But the thing is, you have to do things that scare you. You have to scrunch up all that bravery and allow yourself the pleasure of feeling uncomfortable. Let yourself grow. It's a messy, unbearable business but the cool thing is that you survive it. Every time.
So leave the house in that gingham dress. Hell, go all in and throw on some white gloves in traditional ladylike form. Put on those bell bottom pants you've been admiring all season. Show the world how hard you can rock a pair of overalls, curves and all. Whatever it is, just do it. You might feel weird. You might need to bring along a brown paper bag you could discreetly breathe into. But if you want to start growing in your style, you'll need to do just that: Start growing.
And there's no tip that can get you around step one: Take the first step and do it.
Because the beautiful thing is, if you can do this — if you can put on that dress and spend a whole day outside in its watermelon hues or its avant-garde baggy shape — who knows what else you can do? You'll get a taste for courage. You'll start feeling comfortable toeing across the lines of your comfort zone. You'll start grabbing for other things — bigger wants and wonderfully intimidating dreams — because you saw that you could do it. It's all connected. And it all begins with that one step.
And the best part: You'll realize that even if you fail, even if — OK — you didn't like the style after all, nothing happens. You move on, and you have the winning tally mark on your side that you took a chance on yourself and on your happiness.
And became a little better for it.
So go ahead, start developing a braver sense of self. Let yourself try something new and let yourself see how it feels to be in a spot that feels open and nervous. Because — maybe, just maybe — that same feeling will grow into something confident and natural.
But in order to start, you have to start: No more tips, no more notes. Go do it.
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