The best-dressed people I know all have one thing in common: They dress for themselves.
There’s the assistant to the major stylist who has a penchant for anything hot pink, mixing tiny designer bags with dresses of her own design—in various shades of magenta. There’s the event planner who proudly rocks a wide-brim felt hat through all seasons. And there’s the sales director at a jewelry company who will buy any piece of clothing decorated with a cloud, simply because clouds make her happy.
These stylish individuals aren’t drooling over Vogue to inform their next purchase, but they also haven’t given in to yoga pants and garden shoes, either. Instead, they seem to be listening to some inner voice, one that has a keen understanding of how to radiate their personality through what they wear. They avoid trends and instead wear clothing just because it feels right.
This, my friends, is intuitive dressing. Yes, it’s similar to intuitive eating, the longtime anti-dieting movement that was thrust into the spotlight thanks to The New York Times’ takedown on millennials' obsession with wellness. Intuitive eating is not necessarily used for weight loss. It’s centered around trusting your body and making the choices that feel good to you and not according to standards set by society or your surroundings.
Similarly, intuitive dressing should not be swayed by influencers or the comments made by your mother/partner/BFF. You’re dressing for you and taking the time to figure out exactly what that means. Ready to dip your toe into this new form of getting dressed? Here are five tips to kick-start your intuitive dressing plan.
I don’t know who needs to hear this, but not all trends were made for you. And that’s OK.
There’s something of a mob mentality that surrounds certain popular items, like that leopard skirt. But when these designs become so ubiquitous that you can play Where’s Waldo with them, there’s a sense of individuality gets lost.
So instead of clicking “add to cart” the next time you see a cute ruched blouse on Zara or tapping the link in bio to snag the hanging-by-a-thread wrap skirt your favorite fashion influencer wore on IG, think twice. And then ask yourself the following questions:
Will I feel confident wearing this in a few months? Does this feel inherently "me"’?
If the answer to either of those questions is no, reconsider your trendy purchase.
Dress to Flatter
Some busty gals need to wear a bra and thus will never be able to wear a backless slipdress. The tall ladies among us are likely at risk of flashing the whole world in a postage stamp-sized miniskirt.
By understanding your body’s needs (such as a supportive bra or a skirt that covers more than four inches of thigh), you’re bound to find designs that fit and, thus, are really damn flattering.
If you’re a person who doesn’t mind spending money and time at the tailor to get that perfect fit, keep on keeping on. But if you haven’t gotten an alteration since your wedding dress, don’t sweat it. Just keep an eye out for pieces that fit you without excess tweaking. And shop in the petite or tall department, if that best suits your body.
Have you ever tried on a pair of jeans and felt dismayed that you had to wear a size 30 instead of your usual 29—even though the larger size actually fits you just like the pairs you already own? Yeah, we’ve all been there.
But here’s an important reminder: The number on that tag is just that. A number. In the United States, sizing is not regulated at all. That means it varies depending on the country of origin and the designer who made it. Not to mention, vanity sizing is a thing: It refers to the inflation of sizes over time, to make us feel skinnier. According to Time, a size 12 in 1958 is equivalent to a modern-day size 6.
If the size of your purchases is still bothering you, you do have the option—nay, the right—to cut the tags out of your purchases. If you still remember the exact size of the jeans you bought months ago, well, congrats on having a really sharp memory. But if your booty looks great, that should be the only thing that informs your purchase.
Consider Your Surroundings (to An Extent)
You wouldn’t wear a sweat suit to meet your CEO (unless you work in a gym) and you wouldn’t go for brunch in a black-tie gown (unless you were attending a Breakfast at Tiffany’s themed meal). Context matters, so consider your surroundings before you slip into your all-time favorite piece that you will never, ever part ways with.
But also consider what will make you feel the most confident in that specific situation. If that means wearing casual but super-comfy flats to work, go for it. If you prefer wearing comfortable sweatpants on a long-haul flight (i.e., any red-eye, ever), don’t even think twice about what other fliers will think of your getup.
If you feel confident about what you’re wearing when stepping out the door in the morning, you owe it to yourself to maintain that level of confidence throughout the day.
Feel Damn Comfortable
The bottom line: You should feel comfortable in not only your skin, but also in the clothing that touches it. You have to get dressed every single day, but rather than standing in front of your closet with a growing sense of dread, consider the act of putting on clothes as a joyous moment.
These are pieces that you have chosen because they make you feel good; they celebrate your curves and they genuinely work with your life. And if that means you say adieu to high heels for the rest of your life, so be it.