Dressing to Impress: Are you Ever Enough?

Getting dressed each day is a pretty standard activity. For some of us it can be done with very little care and effort at all, whilst for others getting ready for the day can bring about great distress. The conundrum of what to wear!

Quite often in choosing an outfit, I will refer to my plans and ask a lot of questions of myself: what appointments do I have? Who am I meeting with? Will I be working in the laboratories, public speaking, running an event or doing administrative work in my office? And, of course, what about the weather?

One morning I was drawn to a halt as I was preparing to get ready for work. Flicking through the clothes in my dressing room, I asked myself a new question:

Who are you dressing for?

Such a simple question but with so much for me to consider.

I realised that I was dressing either to impress others or to display an image of myself that I wanted others to see. I wanted to fit in and be accepted.

With this as my motivation, it meant that I started each day already feeling imposed upon by the pressure of what the world wanted me to be, rather than accepting myself and bringing all of me to the world.

It felt uncomfortable and unsettling to start the day like this, and I was forever looking for confirmation from others that I was OK. It meant that I was coming from a “I’m not enough” mentality as I tried so hard to make myself be what I felt others wanted me to be.

So, I started again on this day and asked:

What do you feel to wear today for you?

I chose my outfit and noticed how different I felt in it. It felt lovely just being me for the whole day and so much more supported working in an intense environment. It was like an added level of self-acceptance had been applied to my body, just by dressing for myself. The clothes were the same clothes that I had worn on other days, even in the same combinations and with the same accessories, but how I felt wearing the clothes I had chosen for myself was vastly different.

I had fallen for the embedded ideals and beliefs that are imposed upon us as men and women: that it is all about our looks and our image. I felt how hard I had tried to reach those standards but never got to feel that I was ever enough.

We are constantly fed messages that our hair needs to be luscious like models and movie stars, our makeup must boldly enhance our eyes, our skin flawless with a soft, powdery glow like in magazines, our lips glossy and full and our body curvaceous in just the right spots. We need to dress sexy for some occasions, casual for others, and professional too – and these all have a very different look.

It isn’t about whether to wear make-up or not, or whether to wear this outfit or that outfit – it is about preparing and dressing ourselves for a day, deeply honouring how beautiful we are from the inside out. From here, we do not allow ourselves to be jostled around by the expectations and pressures that this world wants to place upon us, forever telling us that we are not enough, that we must strive to be more, and that we are somehow terribly flawed.

There is a freedom that comes with you being you.

By dressing for yourself, you are already enough; in fact, you are gorgeous just as you are by being your sweet, tender and sensitive self. By feeling good in your own skin, your eyes will sparkle and show a depth like never before, your body will move in a way which is naturally elegant, graceful and even sexy, without any trying whatsoever, your complexion will change as the muscles in your face release from the holding on that comes with trying to be something for others, and you’ll have a confidence to wear your hair in whatever style you wish it to be on that day.

This simple change to how I start my day has brought about a profound change to my life. I now allow myself to accept more of who I am and to deepen the Love that I have for myself to a level that was not there before. Dressing to impress others is loaded with so many beliefs of how we are meant to be, that its outward focus leaves an emptiness and a longing for acceptance that is never fulfilled, and which isn’t at all honouring of all that we are.

So only one question remains… What do you feel to wear today, for you?

By Maree Savins, Australia

Further Reading:
Fashion Styling – Embracing and Appreciating Ourselves
Who Are You in the Latest Fashion Stakes?
New Haircut, New Perspective – Exposing Investments in Appearance and Letting Go

777 thoughts on “Dressing to Impress: Are you Ever Enough?

  1. Great question, “who are you dressing for?”. It made me ponder on this and how in the past I had dressed to stand out, be sexy for others, to impress and yet it was not for me. When I had dressed for me on the odd occasion, the feeling was amazing in that it didn’t matter what it was that I was wearing, I looked and felt sexy and sassy inside out.

    And I like this statement, “it meant that I started each day already feeling imposed upon by the pressure of what the world wanted me to be, rather than accepting myself and bringing all of me to the world”. How true and what would the world look like if we all presented all of us to it?…

  2. Trying to live up to your own or anyone else’s expectations doesn’t work. Appreciating yourself for the natural beauty of who you are shines through.

  3. Maree there is much to ponder here, clothes and dressing has been the biggest stress for me for years and years. I struggled with putting things together from my head to my toes. For years I wore uniforms and there is a possibility I may be going to a secondment where everyday clothes will be worn, so this will be interesting.

    I loved the presentation of ‘what do you feel to wear today for you?’ I haven’t gone to that depth yet, but it is an interesting question. If you asked a small child, they would wear exactly for that question and yet, here we are as adults wanting to fit it with everyone else.

    I recall a wedding I attended recently and took a few dresses with me, I wore this gorgeous figure hugging dress and in the last minute, I put on this granny’s dress. I pondered why I had done this and I realised I did not want to be seen looking sexy and sassy in my mature age…There is some work to be done without making it so arduous and if this secondment goes a head, it will be my training ground to strengthen to dress for me and my body and no one else’s.

    1. Now that I am in my secondment, I prepare the clothes the evenings before, so my day is already set up. That includes the foods I’m going to eat too. In this way, the day is set up and there is no last minute grabbing things and the feeling of rushing consuming my body.

      Now that is a loving nurturing service for all…

  4. As a child I remember getting dressed in combinations of clothes that as an adult I would not normally wear – ones that were picked because I loved the feel of the clothes, or they were my favorite socks etc etc. But there were stripes with polka dots, socks with sandals, greens with red etc etc. Nothing wrong with the combinations themselves, but always picked for specific reasons that had nothing to do with impressing others or complying in to any perceived dressing rules or regulations.

  5. I have gone through a lot of changes around how I dress myself, most days I truly trust how I feel and dress in what I feel to. I’m also looking to update some of the clothing to reflect the deeper care and cherishing of myself. I do notice though with shopping I am sometimes looking for items to fit in and be liked or approved of, but most days I feel I’m dressed in my own love and self honouring. It is a great topic, there is always more love to bring to ourselves.

    1. Melinda I must admit my wardrobe has changed over the years for the better. My next thing is what I wear on my feet is so important to me. I feel a wardrobe clean up is in the horizon and throw away those clothes that no longer feel great against my skin and make space for something much grander…

  6. Dress to impress? Or dress to express? And who or what are you expressing when you are expressing? There is much for us to feel and ponder on with these questions. Thank you Maree for bringing this very relevant topic up for discussion!

  7. There is a freedom in letting ourselves express who we are. And this is felt in the way we dress, in the way we speak in the way we walk – there is no end to what we can access to express ourselves. And we can still do this despite being asked to conform to a schedule or a dress code or rules or regulations, as in the end our expression comes from within and no matter what we do or say, when we stay connected we have the choice to bring so much more.

  8. Maree I don’t have any such thoughts as
    “what appointments do I have? Who am I meeting with? Will I be working in the laboratories, public speaking, running an event or doing administrative work in my office? And, of course, what about the weather?”
    Somewhere from within me I have always felt that who I am is far more important than what I wear. And until I read this blog I didn’t realise just how instilled this is within me. There was no appreciation of the fact that I am not swayed by what others think, wear, fashion etc. However, I do take notice of the weather just because I hate being cold and or getting wet.

  9. In the past I ‘dressed to impress’ more times than I care to remember and I realise now, that each time I did, it came with the expectation that I would be noticed and to have it confirmed that I looked great. How exhausting is that? But how energising it is when I make the choice to dress for myself, how I feel and how I want to move through my day; definitely not exhausting in the least, but in fact very liberating indeed.

  10. How many people are walking around with an image of how they should dress to fit in with a certain role? We may not be consciously aware that we are dressing to impress, fit in, be liked or whatever, but the fact remains that we create a picture that will have us be more acceptable to others depending on how we dress, at least in our minds that is.

  11. Dressing for myself is such a great feeling, honouring me can be anything from gorgeously glam to snuggling up in my dressing gown and even if others see me like that its my way of saying I trust you, it ok for you to see me as I am whatever that may be.

  12. When I was younger I used to dress thinking of who I would meet that day and what I would be doing. Nowadays my clothes choose themselves. I just know what I need to wear that day and I have stopped questioning it as it is always spot on. I love the way my body knows more than my mind does.

  13. ‘The conundrum of what to wear!’ This is one thing we can use so readily to reduce and diminish ourselves in a day of many opportunities to appreciate, cherish and express who we are.

  14. If we dress for others then are we not walking, talking, living for others too? The ripple effect of doing it in one area should not be underestimated. Where else are we doing it?

  15. As I head to bed tonight I can see that my choice for what I wear tomorrow will take on a different approach. What do you reckon – an extra half an hour or perhaps if I don’t try I will find my body simply knows and communicates?

  16. So many of us use clothes to hide parts of our body that we do not like. This then dulls down our natural expression because we come to believe that we cannot wear certain things that we may like or feel to wear.

    1. I had the hiding of certain parts of my body down to a fine art, although it did take a while and a lot of energy to perfect the look! But who was I kidding, as once the clothes came off there was no hiding, although I did become an expert at avoiding looking in the mirror. When I was overweight, I hid, but I also did so when I believed I was too thin. But these days I love encasing my body in clothes which enhance its gorgeous shape; now this was a place I never thought I’d arrive at, but I have and it took me until my late 60’s to do so!. Loving my body in its totality is way easier than hating it.

      1. People can really feel the love we dress ourselves in, regardless of what the outfit is. I find that self love holds me throughout the day.

    1. So true Elizabeth, bringing focus allows us to bring ourselves fully to an activity, it is really bringing our full presence to life and not just our attention.

  17. Once we start to accept ourselves, everything starts to change. The way we eat, the way we dress, the way we interact, the way we communicate, and certainly the way we express

  18. ‘It is about preparing and dressing ourselves for a day, deeply honouring how beautiful we are from the inside out. From here, we do not allow ourselves to be jostled around by the expectations and pressures that this world wants to place upon us, forever telling us that we are not enough, that we must strive to be more, and that we are somehow terribly flawed.’ For not only do we cripple ourselves if we buy into this, we also impact on those around us, confirming in them that same message about being flawed.

  19. There is a stark contrast to dressing from the inside out as oppose to the outside in. In other words as you have described to go more by feeling and the love and care we hold for ourself than an outer picture we try to fit in.

  20. Getting dressed this morning I paused and asked myself “What do I feel to wear today?” and instead of grabbing any old thing I went back and chose my outfit from this stance. Reading this was a great reminder that how I dress gives away how I feel about myself.

  21. This inspires me to look at where my each and every movement comes from, and what the motivations are, to be in the world, and how they might come with critique and judgment about myself, and how I should be and present myself to the world, and sometimes I don’t even know the difference between what I truly feel, and what is ‘right’.

  22. Until we learn to accept us, we will never accept the world. Our constant reactions to rape, murder, theft, political lies etc. have not changed anything in the world, the fights, the marches – it has all just added fuel. If we truly want the world to change it has to start with us.

  23. How exposing these two questions are regarding the consciousness that women have been so regulated by for aeons – dressing to impress others rather than feeling the beauty within and to dress from this.
    Who are you dressing for?
    What do you feel to wear today for you?

    1. Such powerful questions to start my day with. I was lying in bed this morning thinking of what I felt to wear but then in came the ‘I should wear something more sexy than that’. So this was a great comment to read to strip it back and start again.

  24. Who do I dress for; who do I put my make up on for; why do I wash and dry my hair? I understand and am working on the fact that until I do these things based on a deep value and care for myself, I am still feeding a performance and ‘keeping up appearances’ model of life that is not true.

    1. Yes, very true. Simply bringing awareness to the potential that we can be doing it for another is part and parcel of nominating the ideals and beliefs that keep the performance going.

  25. When we get caught up in dressing with what others might like we lose the naturalness of ourselves as we become stiff in our movements because we are not truly comfortable, and when we dress from how we feel we have a flow in every step, not to mention how great we feel too.

  26. “how I felt wearing the clothes I had chosen for myself was vastly different.” It is not the price-tag of the clothes you put on but how you feel who you are that is priceless.

  27. I am very aware of this pattern – waking up in the morning and thinking about what I am doing rather than who I am dressing for. And is it truly to celebrate myself? When I do dress from how I feel, it is very confirming, and I do not go into the day wanting recognition in my clothing because I had dressed for a particular event.

  28. Dressing to impress is indeed an empty gesture, because it is the sparkle in our eyes and the glow from our skin that comes from living in joy and love for ourselves that truly expresses our beauty and sexiness to the world.

  29. I realised that I still use my head to choose what to wear for the day, am I meeting clients, will I be walking a lot?, is it going to be hot cold, rather than truly feeling what colour to,wear and what outfit to wear from the body. Yesterday I put all the mental thoughts to one side and deeply appreciated wearing a crisp clean white shirt which was A line in cut and very cool to wear as it allowed the air around me to flow and a lovely sludgy green skirt. The process of taking the time to iron the shirt and lovingly prepare myself for the day felt really beautiful from my normal rushed approach and every time I caught my reflection somewhere or looked down at what I was wearing I felt complete. We put so much importance on what we wear without putting any importance on honouring ourselves.

    1. ‘We put so much importance on what we wear without putting any importance on honouring ourselves.’ This is so true Fiona, it is a love of the superficial, the outside, the clothes, but where is the love for ourselves?

  30. We are so familiar with wearing clothes because of what we are doing rather than who we are that it has taken me a while this morning to truly feel what to wear for me. I started to use my head to rationalise what I was thinking and wear something that is suitable for going to a dirty building site and do some cleaning. When I stopped all the chat what I really felt to wear is a beautiful expensive crisp white shirt (which needs to be ironed – another reason for dismissing it as too much effort) and so that’s the shirt I will wear. I will take care when I’m cleaning and at the end of the day I will wash my shirt so it will be free from dust once again. This is such a lovely experiement and I will report back on how I felt wearing clothes to confirm me.

  31. This is a great question to consider, ‘are we ever enough?’ Do we stop and appreciate who we truly are throughout our day? Do we appreciate the commitment we give to learning to be all we are in every walk of life? Appreciation supports me to build a sense that I am enough and the more I feel that the more I am able to learn.

    1. I have spent my life keeping clothes for best and not wearing what I feel to wear for fear of it getting ruined which underpins that feeling of I’m not worth it so today I’m going against what has been my norm and wearing my very lovely crisp white shirt to a dirty dusty building site just because it’s what I feel to wear.

  32. There are social contracts we are part of that affect us in elementary activities which have a social connotation. You get acceptance and recognition in exchange for you confirming them that living below our value is the way to go and the relief you offer them that you abide by the contract and will do not dare to cross the line.

  33. Such a needed blog to break the illusion we buy into of how much we need to conform as women to be a certain way. It is a trap when we give our power away to pictures and ideals as we can never be enough. But when we focus on appreciating ourselves for who we are, then we start to dispel the hold of materialistic ideals that have grasped us.

  34. I also used to dress like this, in response to what I knew was coming in my day. It’s stereotyping yourself, like today I am an office worker or today I am the nurse. This already squashes down the everything that we are and tries to force it into another shape. So we start off less than who we are and already feeling imposed on by the stereotypes we have taken on.

  35. I went yesterday to an great presentation by Kate Greenaway, a physiotherapist who made me aware how I still was holding my belly a little inside because people will say something to you when you have a big belly.
    She made me aware how important it is to relax our belly completely to give our lungs the space they should get to breath life in it fullest and to relax the pelvic area all the way.
    The rounds of our body as women are beautiful. We just put all images on it.

    1. I love what you are sharing here Sylvia. Thank you. It is these seemingly little things that make a huge difference. When we become more aware how much we hold our body in certain positions we can allow ourselves to let go which allows in return for us to feel our body more and more.

  36. I love this blog and the way it reminds me of the agony of how I used to stress over clothes, brought to light and its stark unkindness by the pleasure and simplicity of how I dress these days… for me, for what is needed in the day and for honouring and taking care of my body.

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