I consider myself a glass half full kind of woman. My husband is inundated with my desire to “reframe” anything that has tinges of negativity. So much of this can be attributed to taking control of the things I can control – like my thoughts. There’s a quote by Dale Carnegie that has been extremely helpful for me during this unusual year.
“Remember, happiness doesn’t depend upon who you are or what you have; it depends solely upon what you think.”
This is an incredible concept if you sit with it for just a bit.
My jobs have been a lifeline to my own survival this year. I never felt isolated because I had people so appreciative that I stood in front of them in a video and talked about fashion. So many of you would thank me for “showing up.” Full disclosure, I always felt that an effort of style monologues could go either way during a pandemic. There are far more important things to focus on in the world than the variety of ways you can style your sneakers or benefits of using the column of color. So why would a segment on style become the bright spot in anyone’s day while there’s a worldwide pandemic that’s kicking our collective butt? Then it finally occurred to me… I had become Bob Ross!
For those of you who don’t know who I’m talking about, Bob Ross is just one of the most famous painters of the 20th century. He painted “happy little trees” in real-time while wearing jeans and a button-down shirt. Aside from his masterful sense of timeless style choices, Bob Ross was a skillful “framer!” After painting one tree, he never painted another… he painted a friend! I started to realize my descriptions of outfits followed a similar format to how Bob guided us through painting a forest. Case in point – I’ve used the friend analogy for many a print shirt and blazer pairing. Does anyone else become entranced watching Bob create these landscapes right before their eyes on television? It was amazing! And also incredibly calming. There was something a little creepy (that dark studio), a little kitschy, a little fascinating, and incredibly satisfying about watching Bob Ross paint.
When asked about his relaxed and calm approach, he said, “I got a letter from somebody here a while back, and they said, ‘Bob, everything in your world seems to be happy.’ That’s for sure. That’s why I paint. It’s because I can create the kind of world that I want, and I can make this world as happy as I want it. Shoot, if you want bad stuff, watch the news.“
And there it is. I style because I can create the kind of world I want. And just like Bob, I believe everyone has an inherent artist/stylist in them that can become accomplished given time, practice, and encouragement. 2020 has taught me the importance of being connected. It’s not unusual that I receive follow up messages from clients that tell me they feel better after I’ve left our appointment. I realize that I feel better too. That positive energy has the ability to build when we honor it. No one can survive in a vacuum. We need to continuously look for opportunities to reach and develop relationships with a positive framing.
2020 has forced us to unpack our baggage and assess what we own. I cracked open a magazine the other night and discovered Leandra Medine Cohen (aka Man Repeller) has stepped down from her role at the company she founded ten years ago. She will be on the sidelines but acknowledged that she fell short on her promise to offer self-discovery through fashion. In light of what has been described as the lack of diversity at Man Repeller, she wrote a piece for Harper’s Bazaar that I found very insightful. It touches on who we are when there’s no one left to get dressed for.
I’m including an excerpt since I couldn’t find a link.
A day in one quiet outfit became a week in the same one became a month until I lifted my head and there she was in jeans and a denim shirt and a jacket that was not unlike the one that had encouraged me to start writing online all those years ago.
I’ve often said that a good outfit can change a bad morning. What I meant to say is that I can change my own life. Clothes promised me a self-discovery only because I said that they would. They give me courage, they provided a framework. They hid me when I was vulnerable, magnified me when I was strong, but their power was limited. The work of figuring out the kind of person I want to be, don’t want to be anymore, and the ruthless self-examination that comes with it, that’s on me. What a terrifying and liberating and thrilling thing.
Excerpt from Performance Dressing written by Leandra Medine Cohen
Being engaged with fashion and style does not have to be a shallow activity. However, it can become shallow when we knowingly use it to diminish others. In our desires to feel good about ourselves, we must be careful not to measure one’s worth based on what they choose to wear. Clothing should also not leave us feeling diminished. It’s clothing, after all. Somehow we give it more power than it may deserve. I’m reminded of a conversation I had with my brother about buying shirts. When the shirt he puts on doesn’t fit, something must be wrong with the shirt. I laughed when we had this exchange because he had made it so simple.
My final thought is to take the last weeks in 2020 to enact a referendum on thinking positively. If anything can make a difference in 2021, it will be the power of a positive mental attitude. Then put this act into place by getting in your closet and putting that measure to the test against the history of purchases you’ve made. Clearing out the residual staleness makes room for what’s possible. Release yourself from the trappings of guilt, nostalgia, and body-shaming. Take control of the places you can control and frame your happiness, just like Bob Ross and his happy trees. There are no limits here!