Fashion faux pas’, disrespectful suits, outrageous ties, jeans and jumpers – whether you are male or female makes no difference worrying about what to wear for every activity every different situation really can play on your mind.
A classic example for me is writing the newsletter – as always I take myself out and find a sanctuary where I can become immersed in my thinking and writing. That in itself is nothing of any consequence, however the voice in my head then wakes up – what if you bump into somebody potentially important and you’re wearing jeans and a jumper – clearly looking like you are having time off. You’re not having time off, but even if you were does that matter – we’re not in Victorian days of working in a mill or going to school where being seen in town during the day means you are guilty of being truant, grow up!
Here in lies the issue, it’s not what you are wearing, the time of day its the concern as to what other people might say.. Nooooooo Stop that now. How is that helping your ability to be the most dynamic and successful version of you that exists – clearly it doesn’t.
In a working environment I believe you should wear what is relevant and appropriate for the situation be that a suit, smart casual, formal wear or shorts and a t-shirt. I am trying to be androgynous in my description here so please make the analogies work for you. In my working life there are times where I need to be in my most formal suit or kilt and black tie according to the situation, by contrast if I wore that on site at a factory client site I would look ridiculous, there I would need jeans, a heavy coat and hobnail boots.
There are of course many examples of fashion faux pas’ – the suit that clearly has seen better days, the shoes that have never seen polish in their lives or the mysterious quest to find an iron that is more effect than the floor in the corner of the bedroom. In general we all like to go out looking our best, or should I rephrase that not looking like we’ve just woken up and been dragged through a hedge backwards – we are all conscious of the impressions we make on others and of others.
How best to move forward then, firstly we need to understand what is driving this programming that is going on inside our heads, where are these questions coming from. For example a 22 year old multi millionaire who made their money from clever internet companies on a global platform, is unlikely to choose when being themselves to wear an old-fashioned pin stripped banking suit. They would wear at best according to my language smart casual – will they be judged, probably but only by those of an older generation to whom that still matters, the young entrepreneur wouldn’t give it a seconds thought.
Secondly asking ourselves a really simple question, in what environment when considering both clothing and situation do you feel most comfortable and how can you replicate that. This of course will be a challenge if your working world requires you to wear a suit of some sorts and you are most comfortable wearing tracksuits sitting in a pub. We need to be chameleon like in our approach while always staying true to ourselves. Consider the superstitious activities of the average sportsperson, some have to wear their lucky socks, shorts or even pants they might have to get dressed in a particular progression or follow a particular warm up ritual. Superstitions as most people know are all rubbish, but if they work for you then do them. What small or large ritual can you follow to make you feel as comfortable as you do in the pub when you are going to work wearing something which to you might feel more like a straight jacket – just give it a go it might work.
Finally – be you – stop second guessing what someone may or may not be thinking or saying in their internal dialogue. It’s none of your business – it’s going on inside their head so it’s private to them. Focus on being the best that you can be whatever you’re wearing, whatever the weather, time of day or day of the week – none of that should make any difference to who you really are!