The Only Thing We Have to Fear…

In recent years I have become convinced that many women choose their clothing almost entirely out of… FEAR.  That’s right.  Fear of being noticed, fear of being judged, fear of looking masculine, fear of not matching, fear of looking ridiculous… or old… or fat…  doesn’t that seem a bit, well, crazy?  Isn’t it sad?  I once suggested a neighbor wear a wide black belt with her shift dress to give the waist some definition.  It looked great, but she refused, saying that “people might look at” her.  It wasn’t the first, or second, or even the third time I’d heard this same argument, from different women.  “People might look at me.”

Sometimes as women we REFUSE to choose any clothing out of fear – usually of admitting that we might never lose that weight.  I have a friend who did not buy anything for herself for 3 YEARS because she was so angry with herself for gaining weight during her last pregnancy (I met her when she was pregnant, and I always thought she looked great.  I still do).  Now, I completely understand the logic of not wasting lots of money buying new clothes which might not fit you in a year.  But I couldn’t even get her to agree to buy a SCARF.

If you recognize any of this in yourself, I urge you to stop and think: how many years of your life are you willing to serve for your supposed crimes?  Is 10 years an appropriate sentence for gaining 60 pounds?  How long have you already served?  Don’t you think it’s time for a bit of clemency?


Think about your clothes.  Is black your favorite color? No? Then why is there so much of it there?  Let me guess: 1) it’s practical, 2) it doesn’t show dirt, and 3) “it goes with everything.”  Is that really the message you want to project to the world?

What does this say to you?


What if, instead of black, you made RED your base color?  You could have a wardrobe that looks like this:

14 outfits, 1 burgundy handbag


I’m just throwing that idea out there, just to get you thinking.


Ready to let go of the fear?  Great.  Now let’s get down to work!

The first part of defining your unique, personal style is finding your style IDEAL.  So as you lay aside your fears and your critical inner voice, I want for you to go and get yourself a notebook (yes, really!  Go get one!) and start asking yourself some questions:

  1. Do I deserve to look and feel great, regardless of my size/shape/age/weight/income/status?
  3. What colors are those dreams?
  4. If I could be anyone, at any time, with NO limits whatsoever, who would I be, and why?

Write down the questions and your thoughts. This is very important: DO NOT CENSOR YOURSELF!  This is the look of your wildest fantasies, in which you have the perfect body, the perfect lifestyle, and unlimited budget (don’t worry, we’ll get to the practical concerns soon enough).  It might take you a while to work it out, and you may have many answers to each question.  That’s perfectly ok!  No-one is one-dimensional.  Actually, the more references you have to work with, the more layered and unique we can make your style, so keep thinking and keep taking notes.

Now SHE looks good in black.

Personally, I’m a cinephile, so I like to use movies or characters as references.  Can you think of a film that has had a tremendous visual impact on you – not the special effects, but the WORLD of the film?  Is there a film character you’d love to be – just so you could wear her clothes?  (for me, this would be either Auntie Mame or Marilyn Monroe in How To Marry a Millionaire)  Is there a film you’d love to live in, as ANY character?  Maybe Titanic, or Elizabeth, or A Room With a View?  For me, it’s Blade Runner – I’m not kidding when I say the sky’s the limit here.

I don’t care if she’s a replicant. I want that suit.

Need other ideas?

  • J is a music person, so she’s chosen a song as her inspiration.  The lyrics say a lot about the image she wants to project.
  • N came up with Donna Reed, Audrey Hepburn, and Kate Winslet in Titanic.
  • K’s style icon is Betty Boop.
  • When I had my buxom post-baby body my ideal was Elizabeth Taylor.

    dangerous curves ahead


Fill that notebook!

Glue in any pictures that grab you.  Think about the colors that make you happy, any textures that you love, photos from your past where you felt you looked great – and remember to write down WHY.  I can’t make you 18 again, but I CAN help you recapture some of those feelings, if we know what they are.


Just a bit more inspiration…

In case you don’t believe that your fantasy Style Ideal can have any practical application in your actual life, as an example, here’s my interpretation of what Scarlett O’Hara would look like in 2013:


Modern-day Scarlett O'Hara


Those “soccer mom” looks are composed of items which cost under $50 each.  I hope you’ll agree that the woman wearing those reasonably priced, practical outfits looks put-together, feminine, vibrant, and elegant:  a woman unafraid of living in technicolor.  After all, Scarlett would have it no other way.


on “The Only Thing We Have to Fear…
7 Comments on “The Only Thing We Have to Fear…
  1. Really like the visual (and colorful) translation of Scarlett O’hara circa 2013! Fear of being noticed, excellent place to begin. The Psychology behind the way we dress as women, sadly, begins during adolescence, my daughter being a prime candidate. Great start! My blog needs some serious work, but I’ll tag you & spread your work around as much as possible!

  2. Pingback: My Philosophy Explained | Dana Forlano

  3. My mom, bless her heart, inculcated her own Style Phobias in me pre-age-16, but finally I’ve conquered and banished some of them. The big one: metallics, which Mom dismissed as “gaudy” and “tacky.” It took me until my late thirties to feel like I could wear clothes with even subtle metallic inclusions without having to fear Mom’s aghast spirit somehow materializing from the ether to deride me. Now they’re my favorite neutrals, even for work in relatively small doses (well, this IS Vegas…). No condemnatory spectral visits yet!

    • Well kudos to you for overcoming your indoctrination! I had a similar experience with sparkly jewelry. I suddenly decided that I need a little sparkle most during my menial, mundane daily tasks, and NOT on evenings or special occasions. So I gave myself permission. Many women have commented on how much they like it, usually with an immediate aside that THEY would never be brave enough. Sigh.

      Keep flying your shiny flag, hopefully you’ll be an inspiration to others!

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