A couple of weeks ago I had a fashion crisis that hit me hard, you know the ones when you get whipped into an I hate everything I own frenzy, I look fat in it all, its too hot, I can’t cope and discombobulation ensues. I used to get these a lot in my twenties when I was definitely dressing to impress, so it was an unexpected, unwelcome surprise for myself and my poor husband when this one really dug its judgemental little claws in. It’s like a dark fashion wave that you can’t seem to swim your way out of…it becomes an all encompassing ocean of ickiness.
I thought being a slow fashion girl with a minimal wardrobe would have stopped this behavior, however the simple act of us going out for healthy vegan ice cream turned into an unhealthy emotional war zone. After a tense twenty minutes thankfully my beloved Lee found the strength to hold the space and ask me what was really going on. He helped me to realise it had absolutely nothing to do with the clothes and everything to do with me. I was having an epic girl moment of insecurity and suffering from what I like to call Post Traumatic DRESS disorder.
The flow on toxic effect of the insatiable fast fashion beast, always needing something new or striving to fit in and the extreme stress you experience when you can’t keep up.
*side note – it’s impossible, so it’s best to stop trying*!
But in the thick of it, its really hard to see that. Every woman I’ve spoken to whilst writing this post, including my sister, friends, followers and neighbors all wholeheartedly relate they’ve been through it and it can be one hell of a heavy energy. Especially during Australian summer when everything is harder! For me it’s definitely reflective of what I’m going through or feeling about myself at the time and lately to be honest I’ve been struggling with confidence. I’m growing into a new fashion form, my body has changed after discovering I have a gene mutation which thankfully my amazing naturopath is helping me to counteract. My mindset, perceptions and preferences have also changed and I’m having sartorial teething problems! I wasn’t really being real about that with myself so it had to come out in another way. I see now how much our emotional state is weaved into our wardrobes.
Sometimes it can be hard to let go, especially when it comes to style. Our clothes collect memories of special or stressful times in our lives – a first date, a new job, a loss, a break up, a break through or a fresh start but sometimes they can hold us back too.
Enter the ‘I’ll fit in to it agains’ and the ’Maybe I’ll wear them down the trackies’…aka dust gatherers and closet stuffer upper’ers.
These pieces connect us to a happy or sad time and either way it can leave us feeling stuck, trying to tap back into or reluctantly move past the way things were. Clothes really can elevate or make us hibernate! Do you feel me?
When I was living overseas and travelling to ironically find my place in the world, I spent a lot of time living out of a suitcase so I was forced to adopt the mantra of less is more and let me tell you for a past life more is more lady that was terrifying! Especially when I could no longer afford the ‘pretty things’ either. I’d placed all of my importance into how I was perceived and it was a big learning curve. I recently read about ‘the spotlight effect’ which refers to the tendency to think that more people notice something about you than they actually do…like ‘gee you look bloated today’, ‘ewww you have a stain on your collar’ or ‘wow she is so last season’ and guess what, for the most part we grossly over estimate it. However when you’re trapped in that emotional hole and not really digging what you are wearing, worrying way too much what others think or aren’t being our own best friend then everything gets blown way out of proportion. Basically its our egocentrism that causes it…we see the world from the centre of our own universe, it’s not to say we are arrogant its just that we see things from our own experience and perspective…and therein lies the problem. The funny thing is, everyone else is doing the same thing in their own mini universe. Now I’m no psychiatrist but that makes perfect sense to me.
Social media plays a big part in skewing our view too – everyones ‘highlight reel’ is actually so unreal that it messes with our self image. Especially when we met 3 girls on the ABC’s ‘war on waste’ series who said they would be mortified if their followers saw them in the same outfit twice. Is this the lifecycle of our style evolution though? With the teens and twenties being a high pressure time to appear cool to our peers. It’s kinda primal in a way, we’re all subliminally hunting for a mate… or does the high street just feed that fashion wolf even further pumping out new collections every week and enticing the uncertain, searching side of us to buy buy buy. I don’t know about you but I’m craving more SOUL-cial media.
All the photos in this post are of me wearing dresses in different stages and times of my life over the last 7 years. Under each I have made a note of how I was feeling when I was wearing them. It was really interesting to reflect with this new found awareness. Try doing the same and see how you feel.
It’s not to say though that fashion can’t be an incredible force for good and a fabulous form of self expression. It can help, heal, empower, totally transform and that’s the kind of clothes I want on my back, I’m just slowly learning to not be a slave to them by doing more with less, minus the image stress and you can too.
Here’s my Tips for combatting PTDD…
- Self Love – speak kindly to yourself, treat yourself with love, do something everyday that brings you joy and builds your confidence…for me that’s meditation, having a good sweat via yoga, weights or running and practising gratitude.
- Look outside yourself – awareness is the first step in stopping the insatiable fast fashion beast…remind yourself that for the most part no one is even noticing if you’ve worn the same thing twice. In fact I’m all about the repeat offender feels now. Turn your self conscious vibes upside down by doing something sweet for another and remembering what’s truly of value.
- Declutter – get clear on what you do and don’t wear, really dive into how each piece makes you feel and be honest about whether its elevating you or making you hibernate. In my experience letting go of what no longer serves you is always an invitation to the universe to bring us more of what we truly need – clarity, abundance, opportunity and new ideas. Keen to Marie Kondo yourself now!?
- Choose a different style story – fashion for good, clothes that serve community. Explore op shopping, ethical and vintage fashion. Find ways to connect more to what you put on your body and understand where it’s come from. Honestly second hand fashion has gifted me with so much more than just a kind closet, particularly with my mindset.. it’s massively reduced my PTDD. The things I once viewed as important don’t have the pull they used to.
- Embrace who you are and where you are, don’t try to be the 1989 you – I’m still trying to master this one! Everyone is different and divine in their own way. Life is about SO much more than a dress. But the right dress can reduce your stress, shift your perception and make you shine far beyond its fabric.
Feel free to tell me yours below…