Dressing Fearlessly

There is a certain kind of woman who dresses for no-one but herself. Ladies that carry themselves with a quiet confidence and the subtle throw-down:  “I don’t give a damn what you think – I look fabulous.”  I’d quite like to count myself amongst those women. Some days I pull it off. Some days I don’t. There is an art to dressing fearlessly – and it is so much more to do with state of mind than state of dress.

Dressing Fearlessly

I wore this to the Styling You #Everydaystyle lunch last year. I felt pretty fearless. The photo is courtesy of the very talented Rhubarb Photography, click on photo for link.

I remember when I was ten years old. All I wanted to wear was a purple polo shirt and a pair of black shorts. Like every other girl in my class. My mum’s tastes, however, were not quite so Kmart. A dressmaker, she sourced inspiration for my outfits from German vogue magazines. I remember going to school in a pink and purple geometric print sweater dress, paired with hot pink tights and black ballet slippers. It was fashionable at the time. It was not how the girls in my class dressed. I looked at myself and the outfit in the mirror – confused. My ten year old mind comprehended it looked good but also anticipated the inevitable persecution for dressing so differently. And the inevitable persecution came. The teasing with the clear undertone of “who the hell do you think you are?” Later that tear-stained day one of the kinder girls sidled over to me and whispered “I love it. I wish I was brave enough to wear something like that.”

At ten years old, all I wanted was to fit in. I wanted to disappear into the ubiquity of same-same clothing. But I learned something that day that I took into adulthood. The first realisation that clothes could be camouflage or they could be armour. That you could use them to fit in or stand out. And if you chose the latter, sniggers might be closer to jealousy than disparagement.

I didn’t become a ten year old fashion icon – far, far from it. My teenage years were filled with same sartorial mistakes as everyone else. In fact, I don’t think I truly embraced dressing for myself until I became a mother. Early motherhood is often heralded as a style wasteland. For me it was when I stopped caring what other people thought. The need to dress a certain way disappeared. My baby didn’t care what I wore, as long as nipples were easy to access. And I found the freedom to dress how I wanted. A lack of boundaries can lead some people into a style rut but I found it quite liberating. I could be a hippie one day, a dairy-maid the next (well, I was actual a dairy-maid every day), a 60s mod-girl or a boho babe. I could wear flowers in my hair, jingling anklets at my feet or a gold temporary tattoo in the company of a non-judgemental infant. I think motherhood allows us to reinvent ourselves, to rediscover our playful and creative sides. I see no reason why that can’t extend to dressing ourselves.

My boys are older now. I am more often in the company of others and sometimes in a corporate environment. But I still dress to please myself. I still try to dress without fear.

style saturdayHere are a few little ideas on dressing fearlessly:

  1. Dip your toes in the water by adding one extra little thing and see where it takes you. Maybe a statement necklace or a fabulous pair of shoes. Once you get a bit braver, keep stepping outside your comfort zone.
  2. If you see someone wearing something you love (whether offline or online) tell them. Give them a little confidence boost.
  3. You have to love it. If you don’t love it – you will never wear it with confidence. So if you don’t love it, don’t buy it.
  4. Think of dressing as a form of creative expression. Give yourself permission to put some creative thinking into it. Have fun.
  5. Get to know what you suits you and follow that. Don’t listen to style “rules” that limit your choices based on age, shape or size. Listen to yourself and what you love. Wear what makes you smile.

Arrow 2

Do you dress fearlessly?
Wish you could?

22 thoughts on “Dressing Fearlessly

  1. The Hipsterette says:

    Robyna your childhood story is similar to mine. It is break-up day, Grade 1, and all the little girls are twirling around in sticky out dresses (with tulle underskirts), bedecked with bows. Ribbons adorn their sausage curled hair. On their feet, they wear white cotton socks, and their shoes are shiny – either red or black patent leather, either maryjane style or with a t-bar strap.

    Me – I have a pixie cut – the rationale it would help thicken up my hair – it didn’t! I am wearing a straight linen shift frock imprinted with images of fruit, which was a gift from my Aunt in Germany. My feet are clad in sneakers – surprisingly with no socks. It is 1968 – the tail end of the “swinging sixties” so how fashion-forward was I? A much chubbier version of Twiggy!

    But, like you, when seeing how the others were dressed, I felt self-conscious and longed to look just like the other girls. Hence my ‘split’ fashion personality – minimalist diva one day and frou frou queen the next!

    And, as you say, confidence is key! At 12, my son who previously showed no interest in fashion, suddenly requested a pair of green jeans – and not just any green – kelly green. When we finally sourced the outfit (tip girls’ skinny jeans can be worn by young preteen boys) I told him he had own the look and wear with confidence – I said “channel David Beckham”.

    Finally, it is always good to remember that your ‘fashion personality’ doesn’t always come across in photographs. Most of us will remember a certain politician’s wife who was continually (and unfairly in my opinion) lambasted in the press for wardrobe choices, and I have to admit I didn’t love them on her either. I saw her in person one day having lunch with her close girlfriends, and the first thing that struck me was how pretty she looked. Her ruffled blouse and curly hair style were exactly ‘right’ for her. It may have been that she felt so comfortable in the company of non-judgmental friends that her true personality shone through!

    • Robyna says:

      I think it’s so important for kids to embrace confidence in themselves and their decisions early (not false confidence through over-coddling, but real grounding in what they stand for). I think your approach with your young man might be a little kinder than the deeper waters our respective mothers threw us into!

  2. Kylie says:

    I have an absolutely stunning friend who even at nine months pregnant dressed completely fearlessly. I’ll give it a go…every now and then it works…

  3. Kitty says:

    This is fantastic. I need to remember to be fearless with my wardrobe choices and choose pieces because I love them, not because they’re camouflage!

  4. shannon @my2morrows says:

    I totally agree with everything you said about dressing fearlessly once you become a mum. I think that’s when it started to happen for me too. I’m still not quite there yet… I find it really challenging working in a corporate environment…but I’m definitely caring a lot less about what others think. Xx
    shannon @my2morrows recently posted…The Ultimate Rabbit Hole #53My Profile

    • Robyna says:

      I found motherhood really opened up that key of caring so much less about what others think, particularly about things as trivial as what one wears!

  5. Collette says:

    I found (new) motherhood killed my fashion sense. I was stuck under shapeless grey cardigans because I’d always worn things tight or fitted – but then my waist thickened and I bought shapeless things to hide that, while I waited for my ‘before’ shape to return. I’m still waiting for that to happen (nine years later – probably safe to say it aint happening!) but I have returned to my more colourful ways – I just got sick of feeling invisible. I love your expression of ‘fearless’ – that’s exactly what it is.
    Collette recently posted…Identity and A Sense of PlaceMy Profile

    • Robyna says:

      I think once you take away the idea that you need to dress to please other people, a whole new world opens up. Throw on that colour! and yep, my body is definitely different post babies.

  6. Cathy @mummyhaze says:

    Oh Robyna!

    I wish I had the courage to dress fearlessly (of who am I kidding I wish I had the courage to do anything fearlessly!) FWIW you look absolutely amazing! I love, love, love your outfit! I also wish I could wear high heels and not fall over – no seriously just standing upright I fall over!

    You are just gorgeous!

    • Robyna says:

      Oh blush – thank you. Maybe just try something a little different – a statement necklace or earring, or a scarf as a little first step?

  7. Dawn says:

    I absolutely love this post (and I am in LOVE with your outfit in the first pic!) It’s funny that motherhood is also teaching me to care less about what people think..and to become less worried about fitting in. Add to that the complete removal of any sort of corporate dress code and I seem to have found myself with a blank style slate. Now I’m embracing a few new things and trying to figure out a fearless look (with practical application) that I can rock now that I’m self-employed and a SAHM. I’ve always loved fashion but it’s gotten away from me the last few years. Now I’m like, blue hair- yes please, more tattoos- why not! And you know what? I feel more like myself than ever before.
    Dawn recently posted…Makers Monthly February 2016My Profile

    • Robyna says:

      Oh thank you Sarah – you are too kind. Do the clothes give you confidence or do you need to first find the confidence to wear the clothes I wonder?

    • Robyna says:

      Thanks Karin – I was a bit of a wall-flower dresser as a teen, so I am happy to step out of that. Out-there earrings are a bit tricky with little ones I find, but you’ll be rocking them again more regularly and with much as flair as your younger self soon I reckon.

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