Fall is here! Isn’t it wonderful? The crisp weather, football games, sweaters, boots and pumpkin-flavored everything. Don’t get me wrong — I said goodbye to summer with more than my fair share of sadness. But we must admit … Michigan really does autumn well. If you read my column regularly, you know that I recommend that you take some time this month to transition your wardrobe. Evaluate what pieces you can bring into fall and winter, and pack away those you can’t. Of course, really take a look at anything you plan on keeping to make sure it’s in good repair and it fits your body. I’m a big believer in having wearable clothing in your arsenal. It makes getting dressed so much easier, and your confidence soars when you successfully rock anything you have out and available. This season I challenge you to define your style as well. In the words of Rachel Zoe “Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.” Do you (and your wardrobe) know who you are? Admittedly, we’ve all gone through style phases at different points in our lives, but your personal style should be apparent to you once you hit your 20s. Do you know what your clothing is saying about you? COLOR MY WORLD Many people underestimate the power of color, but color speaks volumes. It can help others predict your personality. Let’s face it, you have to be pretty darn confident and outgoing to rock fuchsia pants. Conversely, navy and khaki are pretty reliable and conservative. Of course, accessories can change the dynamics on most colors … but that’s a different column. Personally, I don’t integrate much color into my wardrobe. I say black is my “signature look,” but really I’m just all about efficiency. Regardless of which colors you gravitate toward, I recommend that you have a common theme in your wardrobe. It will make mixing and matching easier and therefore extend the looks you can create. CUT IT OUT Most of us spend the majority of our time in one particular level of dress. If you work in a business environment, you likely have an abundance of business appropriate clothing in comparison to your other garments. If you’re a stay-at-home mom or remote worker, you likely have more casual clothing. Where most people have difficulty is trying to create the same “style” for all levels of dress. As an example, a banker I was talking to recently said she feels powerful and confident in her suits and has no idea what she should be wearing to her kid’s soccer games. The answer is almost too simple; your clothing should be similar in its cut, regardless of the level of formality or casualness. I prefer to wear trouser cut pants for business — it works for my body shape, which makes me feel good. When I buy blue jeans I also buy them in a trouser cut — it works for my body shape, and makes me feel good (déjà vu!). I wear my shirts slightly longer than my waistband because belting is not good for my body shape — regardless of whether it’s a business or casual look. The point is, look at the cut of clothing that you feel comfortable in and repeat it in all of your garments. LET IT GO This may be the hardest step of all when it comes to defining your style. We put so much emotion into our clothing, which can make it hard to part with. The sad truth is that all garments have an expiration date. I know, I know. I have some personal faves that I rocked in my 20s too. Sadly, they simply are not in style anymore (I mean … who would have thought that leather pants would go out of style!). When editing your wardrobe be honest with yourself — are you hoping to recreate a happier time or are you wearing a garment that reflects who you are in an up-to-date way? If you can’t answer yes, then it’s time to let it go. If permanently letting go sounds too scary, then just pack your garments away for six to12 months. If you didn’t have an overwhelming urge to get them out, then you know it’s time to move them along. Enjoy the fall and all of the beauty it brings!
Shelley Davis Mielock
Shelley Davis Mielock is a certified business image coach and the founder of Mieshel Image Consulting, a Lansing-based firm that specializes in image development for individuals and businesses. She is also a co-host of In Her Shoes, a a weekly women’s talk radio show. To ask Shelley an image question, please e-mail her.