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Showing Up As You: Dress and Stress

Updated: Aug 1, 2022

Have you ever found yourself dressing to camouflage yourself because you are afraid of being noticed?

Apart from writing, singing, or promoting content, there’s nothing which pleases me, Davia “Diversia” Ellis, more than dressing like myself. Be it an entire outfit or adding a last minute do-it-yourself accessory.

I knew I had started to better appreciate dressing like myself when I looked forward to the idea of designing and pageanting a national costume while serving as Miss Jamaica United Nations for the United Nations World Pageant 2023 in Peru.

Some of us are wired differently, and may want to show up dressed like no one else but us, but there are some factors holding us back for showing up and dressing up as we would want to.

Let’s explore five reasons you may hesitate to show up in a look that is originally yours or even one that your peers have never seen or accepted before.

1. Lack of Financially Funded Freedom

Like myself, you may be open to accepting sponsorship for some looks that you could afford, but are unable to prioritize at this particular moment, so you make the best of available resources. You may want to mix and match pieces of different suits, play with patterns, colours, and textures or even wear an item that might not be traditionally considered clothes.

Dedicated to the cause, when I was stuck at home during quarantine, I opted for a home style photoshoot wearing one of my favourite blankets as a dress. My favourite aspect to the blanket is the texture, but I found it appropriate to wear because I didn’t feel obliged to wear a dress at home or nothing much at all.

I found it freeing that the need, want, or thought did not exist to buy any piece of clothing to be productive at home professionally or vocationally.

It also cemented a notion that even though some of us claim that we dress only for ourselves, we also dress for others because many shoes and clothes for some were dry rotting or became hidden under or behind ‘yard clothes’ during quarantine.

2. Dressed to Impress or Inducing Stress

Davia "Diversia" Ellis's  dress compass.

Dressing like your peers may contribute to a great sense of relatability and it’s a warm fuzzy feeling to be able to identify with a group of people. Dress is an obvious way to connect with others, but not if it stifles your sense of individuation or style.

If dressing as originally you induces socially anxiety, then a little exposure or practice may be required. Fear of attention may be present, the root cause of the anxiety, and somewhat teaches the self that you can’t handle being in the limelight.

Furthermore, one’s devotion or commitment to an organization, clique or posse may need some readjustment if you are overly people-pleasing to the point where ‘they’ are dictating what you wear and how you wear it.

Yes, we adjust to dress codes for our jobs, but in many cases, it still leaves room to personalize the hairstyle or cut or rock a shoes that comforts you or even your sensory needs.

Of course, sometimes we end up wearing what is available or trending in stores, but it’s okay to set your own trends and impress yourself first.

3. Need to develop your skills You don’t have to operate a sewing machine to create a new look or clothes. Shifting perspectives could be you turning a blouse into a skirt where the neck of the blouse is adjusted to your waist and the sleeves of your blouse becomes pocket for your skirt. It’s alright to be your own no-sew fashion designer or learn some do-it-yourself fashion hacks. In time, you might even be able to hand sew a piece or use fabric glue to put life into your creation. Life skills like self-awareness, coping with stress and emotions will go a far way in exhibiting. When you understand yourself and can accept that how you think stems from how other people perceive you, a growth mindset is being achieved. It is possible to change your thoughts, but not other people’s.

4. Fashion for you is not therapy

Cheers to everyone who can find other means outside of dress to express self, but the option is always available. Dress can lift sad moods more than angry ones. People may engage in retail therapy and make ‘comfort buys’ to relieve stress or deal with challenges; this is effective when your purchases are within your spending budget. Retail therapy differs from compulsive shopping which is not effective with feelings of regret, and lack of applying moderation generously.

Choosing to make a purchase or declining to make a purchase can feel so empowering. So, when non-sale items are ‘mistakenly’ placed among sale items in some stores, it can be one of the most freeing experiences to walk away, even after you’ve fitted it and all the salespersons had showered you with praises of how suited the dress or suit is for you. We could agree that clothes are a form of self-expression or even a measure of mood.

Overall, dressing like yourself comes with the responsibility of avoiding the addictive processes of consumerism, overspending or just standing out. Nonetheless, you do get opportunities to find your personal style. Identifying the feelings you want your clothes to elicit makes it easier for you to choose the right piece.

Be emancipated.

Make it happen!

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