What is the reason for the lack of style of many women in the UK? While flicking through a local free magazine* recently, one article discussing just this caught my attention. Ruth Essex, a stylist and style writer, pondered the reasons why so many women are not the stylish, elegant dressers that if asked, they claim they desire to be.
Lack of cash?
Despite money or lack thereof being the obvious barrier, lack of cash is actually not the real problem. Money does not always equate to good taste in attire, as endless red carpet faux-pas can attest to.
A less than perfect Figure?
Dissatisfaction with one’s figure doesn’t cut it as an explanation, either. You only have to look to countries such as France or Italy, where the majority of plus-sized ladies make the best of themselves and present an elegant image out and about.
Nope. Two little words are the culprits…
Nope. Ruth rightly pinpoints the problem down to two little words: “only” and “just”. How many times have we all discounted the need to make an effort with our choice of clothing, hair and make up because we are “only” doing the school run, or “just” going to the shops for a pint of milk, or “only” meeting a friend in an informal cafe for lunch. Hands up who has succumbed to this way of thinking? I know I certainly have and can easily slip back into it if I’m not careful. Why do we diminish the importance of these singularly small events, that when pieced together form the bulk of our days and actual lives?
How to break the habit?
Why not challenge yourself to remove those “just” and “only’ words? See how the sentence becomes reframed? I am doing the school run. I am going to the shops. Now, these events sound worthy of making a little more effort for, don’t they?
Ruth Essex explains that the “just” and “only” type thinking is called “faulty” thinking by psychoanalysts but we can re-learn it. It is about reminding ourselves that spending a little extra time on coordinating an outfit each morning, applying a little makeup and styling our hair is something that we deserve to do and that because it makes us feel good about ourselves, it contributes towards our wellbeing. Don’t you notice a huge difference on those days when you have invested a little more time than usual on getting yourself ready to go out, in terms of what a boost it gives you, even if no one else notices the outward difference? A glance around the centre of any Italian or French city will certify that the donne and femmes of the respective lands have cultivated this mentality and strive to present themselves at their best on a daily basis. In fact, the grandmother of the boy I was an au pair for in Italy dressed and made herself up beautifully every single day, even though she rarely chose to leave her home. Taking pride in her appearance was second nature given that she was in her seventies.
The old adage “life is not a dress rehearsal” is an apt reminder that the seemingly ordinary everydays are what make up the bulk of our existence. So: pull out those lovely items in your wardrobe that you save for best, remove the sealed wrapping from that eyeshadow you purchased months ago and give yourself permission to use them and enjoy them.
*The article was called ‘”Only” and “Just”: The Death of Style’ by Ruth Essex in Eastlife magazine