I’m not sure where the idea came from, but it seems like there’s a belief out there that your clothes need to match. As a kid, I used to wear crazy clothes, get teased, and then cry. Problem was, I grew up having to wear a uniform to school. I could pick from a navy dress or a navy and white pin-striped dress, and a white shirt. Wow. What fun. So, you can understand that when I was set free in college, with other colors to choose from than navy and white, it was overwhelming.
I was chatting with a friend recently about clothes, and reminiscing about the time I stayed with a friend who had 2 young daughters. I showed up dressed in lord knows what and was greeted with
“Your shoes don’t match your outfit.”
I replied, “Who said I had to match?”
I was met with an open mouth and silence. Apparently, the idea of NOT matching was one that was not taught in school.
But, seriously, who said we had to match? It seems to me that matching is about conforming to someone else’s expectation of how we should dress, or trying to please someone that feels scared by the idea of not matching. Thank goodness, the ideas of fashion and style have evolved so that “weird is normal” – but I think this has a direct reference to business, too.
I think many of us have been conditioned to believe that success comes in a certain way. Our parents, lovingly, did what they could to set us up for success. But, they did that in their paradigm. So, we grew up in uniforms, conditioned to be like everyone else (well, those of us who had to wear uniforms got a message that to fit in we needed to look like everyone else.) And, even if kids don’t have to wear uniforms, when I look around at high school kids, they look like carbon copies even outside of school – same dress, same heels, same ties, same pant/shirt look.
Then we grow up and start a business. We look for some training and our first inclination is to copy someone else. Now, I’m all ears to learn and grow from someone more successful than me. However, I have come to learn, after trying so hard to fit in and be like everyone else that I am not like, that to truly stand out, I have to be me. Said in a different way, all I have to do is be me, and I will stand out. Take that further – if I am myself, my clothes do not always match, and I don’t care. If I am myself, and my clothes don’t match, and I don’t care that they don’t match, some people aren’t going to accept me. That’s ok. Because for every person that finds scorn, there is another person that finds inspiration. I’d rather be inspirational for being myself, than lost by blending in with the crowd.
How about you?
Hi Heather, Really good stuff, as always. My musings.
1. Not everyone will “get this”.
2. I spent the first 50 years of my life following “the script” that was etched in my brain – yes I wore a uniform as well.
3. Getting “off script” can be daunting. You can feel directionless.
4. Fear of the unknown holds many back from wearing clothes that don’t match.
Thanks as always for your insights.
Hi Kevin. Love these musings! So know what you mean about following a script (and knowing I needed a different role.) love the observation about the impact of going off script and yes fear of unknown is a biggie especially because we tend to fill that void with negative outcomes much of the time..
Thanks for your comments!