THE BLOG
08/18/2011 12:15 am ET | Updated Oct 11, 2012

My Suit of Armor -- And the Clothes That Mock Me

As a kid, I worried about monsters in my closet. Now, as an adult, I have several monsters in my closet only now they are on hangers! What possessed me to buy these items? The peasant blouse inspired by Meryl Streep in Out of Africa, the suede fringe jacket or the Monet inspired sequined top all hanging in my closet with the tags attached -- never worn. (Yes, I bought a suede-fringed jacket, which begs another question: When will I realistically be visiting a ranch?)

Every time I scan my wardrobe, these pieces taunt and whisper, "Wear me!" This mocking continues because the culprits know I won't get rid of them. And they're right, because I'm determined to wear these shopping mishaps -- somehow, somewhere -- to prove to myself that I can.

As women, we want to look and feel great. We all have pieces in our closet that we know when we wear them we exude confidence and are able to focus on what we are doing rather than what we are wearing! When I have a big meeting, I'm tempted to try something new and step it up. This is usually a morning when I try on 20 pieces in my closet only to finally realize that I should stick with my "suit of armor."

Our "suit of armor" isn't literal -- it's comprised of the pieces of our wardrobe that make us feel great and confident to handle whatever comes our way. A favorite scarf, the shirt that conceals all flaws, killer stilettos that make you feel like you rule the world. No matter how hard I try to move outside my comfort zone, I find myself going back again and again to my favorite pieces: the perfect jacket, the black pencil skirt and sleeveless shift dress. I realize that the one thing all of my favorite pieces have in common are that they not only define my personal style but they give me style confidence. My style is mostly Classic with a touch of Modern, the other pieces are alternative fashion personalities I've tried to adopt and incorporate but didn't fit. The unworn amalgam of sequins and fringes in my closet is not Classic or Modern; it falls under a totally different type.

This battle of trend versus personal style is not new. Growing up in the 80s, I lived through what has been considered to be a particularly scary time in fashion. Remember giant shoulder pads, neon colors, acid-washed jeans? Guilty! If those looks weren't cringe-worthy enough at the time, some of them have returned to prominence in recent seasons. And still we're thinking, "I can pull it off." Again, it's the fundamental desire to be fashionable. We can trace it back to cavewomen and their off-the-shoulder pelts. Women have always wanted to be in style.

The truth is, friends don't let friends wear parachute pants and camouflage jeggings. So solicit help. The next time you're shopping and have the urge to buy a piece outside your comfort zone but that's calling to your inner Bohemian, try it on, take a photo on your Smartphone, e-mail it to three friends, and listen to what they say. You'll probably know what they'll say before you hit "Send."
 


The deeper truth is, if we wear the style that's true to us, then we are in fashion. If your style is Bohemian, embrace it. If you're more into the clean-cut, refined look, own it. If your thing is jeans and quirky tops, then -- as my friend Tim Gunn might say -- 'make it work'. Just don't be pressured into buying something out of your style zone solely because it's the latest trend. The best way to protect yourself from, well... yourself, is to know your style profile to help and keep those monsters out of your closet!