People love reality shows or a good look at anything behind the scenes, but how close do we really want to look? Are we prepared for what we may not want to see?
I freaking love Hallmark channel movies. This is new for me and a crush that deepened into a serious relationship over quarantine. It’s not that they have incredible acting and plot twists (no offense to the actors and/or the writers), most stories are variations on the same theme. Big city guy/girl goes home to save parents farm/store/business and runs into small town guy or girl who is their opposite but sparks fly and they go to cute small town places and on cute small town dates with cute small town people. Everyone is the right level attractive, not too flashy or perfect and there’s always a beautiful dance, wedding, dinner or something with a dreamy outdoor setting where everyone looks the part and wears cute outfits. It’s like Dr. Seuss looking down on Whoville except I’m drawn to it more than I am repulsed by it. The thing is when watching these shows I have no desire to go behind the doors and into all the homes shown, physically or figuratively. I don’t want to know that the waitress in the small town diner with the cute friendly smile goes home to a disheveled trailer outside of town and cries herself to sleep because she can’t pay her bills. Or that the handsome local farmer actually is a functioning alcoholic who has several DUIs and that’s why he’s always walking into town. If I wanted to know or see or that I could have watched reruns of Desperate Housewives on Wisteria lane or turned on a soap opera.
The simple happy storyline of a Hallmark movie, as cheesy and predictable as it may be, is kind of like my favorite Iced Lite Latte from Dunkin Donuts. I know what to expect from each of these things and this brings me some level of comfort, event a feeling of control. But this is also why I don’t look up the exact ingredients of my Dunkin latte. I am choosing to live in an ignorant bliss, I don’t want to watch how it’s made, who is making it, or know exactly what is in it. I don’t want to know what’s in it because what if it’s bad for me? Obviously whatever is in there is not great for me and again I am actively choosing to live in denial. What if they guy making it has a terrible drippy nose and dirt under his fingernails? This would ruin it for me and then I’d have to search all over again for the comfort drink that I can buy while wearing my pajamas and and no questions asked. My brain is not prepared, at this point in 2020, to do the work that would be needed to find “the drink” or “the thing” that starts my day off on a note of comfort and control. And yes, of course, I realize tea at home would be the obvious better choice, but again, lazy habits take a while to die.
There’s a certain degree to our own lives that is behind a curtain. It’s not always under our control who gets to see behind that curtain but people go to various lengths to protect what they project in front of said curtain. What you put out there for other people to see and what other people perceive collide at a busy intersection. You have some control over what you present but ultimately the other person is going to choose to see and believe whatever they want. You cannot control their emotions or their thoughts, no matter how hard you try. And as the perceiver we have choices as to what color glasses we want to wear. Rose colored glasses mean less pain, more positivity, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. When we choose to see the good then we feel good and in turn we do then do good , completing the cycle of feeling good. The trouble happens when we unexpectedly pull back that curtain or lose our rose colored glasses.
Recently there was a person I was following online through a business connection. I loved this entrepreneur’s attitude and their advice about running a business. Their energy and positive posts were contagious and created a huge shift in my mind and my attitude. Then one day I dug too deep trying to find out more about this person. While their words and their advice are genuine they weren’t living the life that I pictured them living. Let me be very clear, at no time did this person deceive anyone, this background information just wasn’t something that this person addressed or discussed. This extra information I discovered just didn’t fit in with the picture that I had painted in my own mind. I was really disappointed, even a little mad at first. But it also had nothing to do with their job. This background information that didn’t fit with my own personal narrative in no way should have had any effect in this person’s business message, the very message that gave me the kick in the backside that I so very much needed. So what exactly was my problem? How this person lived their life outside of their business message was not part of the package they were “selling” so why was I making it so important?
Have you ever heard someone who met their idol and was disappointed? Or that famous athlete or you looked up and then discovered his personal life is not what you thought (I’m talking about you Tiger Woods). At no point in time did Tiger Woods go on camera and state that he was a monogamous loyal husband but to the general public that ideal family life was implied. He was busy endorsing Nike, Gatorade and tons of other brands based on his talent, a talent at golf that is undebatable. And yet I was so mad when I found out about his affairs. It was like he had a responsibility to be living a life of Eden off camera with his wife and kids and I wasn’t able to separate his personal issues from his professional accomplishments. Again, his problem, not mine. He never implied a perfect family life, yet we all decided to paint the picture that we wanted to see.
I think thats why people go to different lengths to determine what they want to present and what they want to hide. And yet I love to tell people I am an open book, and I pretty much am. I will show you pictures of my own closet when it’s messy, I share my own feelings of doubt, and am known for keeping things real. I take a lot of pride in that but in reality it comes from a place of control. See I’d rather invite you into the castle in the land of oz and show you how it’s just me behind the curtain than ever, ever have someone else do it for me, when I’m not ready. I may be open and real but make no mistake I am still controlling just how real I get. We all know those people who, when you compliment them on something in their home, they are the first to point out the knick in the wall, or the crack on the ceiling. I am one of those people. Why do we do this? Control? Relatability? Fear of looking fake if people compliment you on a beautiful home but we want to beat them to the punch in case they discover there are flaws?
And yet there are other people who won’t even let you near the Kingdom of Oz. They will send flying monkeys and whatever else it takes to make sure you only see what they want them to see. Both of these scenarios sound opposite but truly they are two sides of the same coin.
The ones that interest me are the ones who do their thing and don’t feel like it’s lying to not give you the whole picture. They just choose to let you decide. It’s a lack of control because it says I will put out there what I want and it’s your choice to admire Oz from affair, walk into the castle and be amazed and then see the curtain and decide to let it be or be, in your mind, let down. But at the end of the day thats on you, no them.
Which brings me full circle to fashion. What do you want to say and how do you want to say it? Are you the wolf in sheep’s clothing but you are okay with that? Are you refusing to “play the game” of having to wear or look a certain way you think other’s want to see you?
It can be both and all of the scenarios above. The point is that it’s up to you and that you should at least consider that the options are there. There is no correct answer. There is only who you are and I can pretty much bet that your level of disclosure, much like your level of confidence, will continue to ebb and flow over time.
I have been fortunate to be exceptionally busy in my business right now, something I would not have predicted during a pandemic. This year has given us the rare gift of time. Whether or not we wanted it 2020 forced us to pull back the curtain on ourselves. It forced us to look in the mirror, and I’m talking about those hideously well lit and magnified mirrors in a hotel bathroom. What we choose to see and what we choose to do with that knowledge is up to each of us. Again, no judgement, no right and no wrong. This year also took away any control we thought we had over our lives. Our health, our daily routines, our finances, all of it feels out of our control. But you know what we do have control over? What we wear.
As trivial as it may seem to some what we wear gives us an enormous sense of control. How we present ourselves to others isn’t always indicative of what is on the inside, which is way our outfit is similar to a costume, a suit of armor really. The “curtain” we choose to put on ourselves is powerful. I can put on a black blazer, white crisp button down shirt and a classic pearl necklace to portray a CEO on a zoom call for a top investment call. I can also put on a colorful hand-knit scarf over a floral dress to discuss art to an online group. Now imagine exchanging the script for both of these individuals. Imagine wearing medical scrubs for an online conference with your child’s teacher. You could be a janitor or a surgeon but what would that teacher perceive if they knew nothing about you? How would you feel if you were on a zoom call with students but you were wearing a hooded sweatshirt and you were the teacher? Our clothes don’t have to define who we are on the inside, but they do have the ability to empower how we present ourselves on the outside. How you choose to match up what is seen in front of the curtain to what is behind it is up to you, most of the time. There are times it can stripped away when we aren’t ready. It can feel make us feel vulnerable and exposed. True beauty on the inside and on the outside is earned with age and experience. With age and experience we gain grace and confidence. And nothing is more stunning on a woman than when she is standing tall, head held high, shoulders back, completely comfortable in her own skin. That is style, the kind that is uniquely yours. Cherish it.
Thanks for reading this deeper dive into personal styling. My monthly email newsletter is my shopping and styling update while the blog will remain my place to empty out all the weird stuff in my brain.