Did you get dressed this morning? Yes, of course you did, because in our society you can’t be naked. And even if you could, I think most of us would opt for clothing. After showering or brushing your teeth, dressing is probably the first thing you do every day. But have you ever stopped to consider that it’s also the most important? This one act affects everything else that follows, yet the duty of putting ‘something’ on is often left to the last few minutes before you have to run out the door.
Your style is the way you speak to the world without words. It’s a layer of language that you wear and the first thing people notice about you. It’s how you initially attract people – from employers to friends to potential mates. So it’s imperative that you are in control of your personal image and what you are “saying” to others. Family, co-workers, companions, and potential love interests are constantly “listening” to how we present ourselves, because our style is such an echo of who we are. I believe that everyone has a “style speak” that is uniquely their own. Though we might not always realize it, we buy and wear clothes that physically represent and communicate our insights, frustrations, fears, goals, and desires — and we then carry these signifiers into the office, a party, or on a date.
Of course, it’s always a great idea to ask for what you want, but don’t expect the universe to do all the work for you. Just because you sit in front of the mirror asking for your soul mate to appear doesn’t mean it will simply happen without effort. If your intentions are blocked by the wrong style/communication choices, the universe may have a hard time hearing you. Are you “covering up” what you’re trying to say to the world or perhaps advertising to the wrong audience? It’s about aligning your image – the one you see AND the one others see – with your goals because your style speak is a louder voice that anything you might scream from a rooftop.
Think about this – has there ever been a moment in your life when you were sure things were going to go one way, and then the opposite occurred? Perhaps you had an amazing first date, but never heard from him/her again? You could have gone over the experience in your head hundreds of times and yet, it still didn’t make sense. In situations like this, it’s highly possible that you overlooked the power of the nonverbal. What you said on the date may have been a perfectly accurate representation of who you are, your interests, strengths, and abilities. But if your body language or style was conflicting with these messages – game over!
Of course, the opposite can often be true as well. Once you understand how powerful nonverbal communication is, you can start to use it to your advantage and ensure that you are always reinforcing your message and communicating honesty, authenticity, and likeability. To help you with this, start by asking yourself two key questions: Who am I? and What do I want to say?
Who Am I?
Think about big brands for a moment, the labels you gravitate towards, even if it’s just window-shopping. Pushing aside what’s available to you, or what you can afford, I want you to be more in tune with what you are instinctively attracted to. Do you have one favorite, or a few go-to retailers? If you have a particular designer or brand that you wear more than most, it’s likely because you resonate with their story. The portrayed aesthetic, values, and lifestyle align with yours, or at least, with those that you want to be associated with. These are hints that can uncover more about who you are. Don’t be discouraged if you find that what you are most attracted to isn’t represented by your current style. The whole purpose of asking yourself these questions is to find out more about who you are so that you can build upon what you already have and continue to move forward from this point in the right direction.
To further help you answer this question; you can create a style file of what inspires you. Most everyone who sets out to furnish a home or redecorate a room will gather ideas and items of interest to help bring their vision to life, yet we don’t take the time to do this for ourselves. Collect your favorite pictures of people (yourself, friends, or celebrities), places, or things (furniture, food) that speak to you, as well as thought-provoking quotes and sentimental scraps. Tear out eye-catching ads or pages in magazines or catalogs. Be open minded about where you draw from, but selective in what you choose. This file will be a visual wellspring that you can draw inspiration from to help you establish and reinforce your style-speak.
What do I want to say?
While verbal language is how we directly communicate messages, your style-speak is more open to interpretation. If you’re tired/hungry/happy, you might say it out loud, eliminating any confusion about what it is you are trying to convey. With style however, if you don’t know what you’re communicating, the world may get the wrong message. So in order to break down what it is that your style is saying, you first have to consider your short and long-term goals. Your short-term goals change daily. Today, you may have a first date where your goal is to get to know someone new and come across as warm and inviting; while tomorrow, you may have your daughter’s soccer game where your objective is just to remember to wash her uniform and get everyone to and from safely. While your outfit choices for each of these days will likely be very different, your individual brand stays the same – it’s the message that’s changing. Long-term goals are often accomplished slowly over the course of achieving many daily, short-term goals. If you are working toward a work promotion, trying to meet someone special, or even if your long-term goal is simply to have better control of your image, understanding your brand and accurate style-speak will help you achieve it.
At the end of the day, by having a firm grasp on who you are and what you want to say, then reinforcing these with your style speak, you will be able to become the most stylish, successful, and satisfied version of yourself. And this will help you attract what you want most from life.
Have you thought about how you dress and what thay conveys about you to others?
This article is an excerpt from Bobbie Thomas’s book, The Power of Style.
About the Author:
Bobbie Thomas has shared advice in nearly five hundred segments as style editor for NBC’s TODAY show since 2005, including her weekly “Bobbie’s Minute Buzz.” Although her television career started on the red carpet for E!, the former cohost of the Style network’s Fashion Police and national columnist began her work as a rape-crisis counselor. Uniquely understanding that beauty comes from the strength within, Bobbie has worked with major brands and organizations such as Step Up, Make-A-Wish, and the United Nations Foundation to promote positive campaigns and encourage people to use style as a powerful voice. Bobbie adores her dog, Chica, was born in Rhode Island, grew up in Los Angeles, and lives in New York. Learn more at bobbie.com.