I recently attended the New York City Fashion & Design conference which focused on the meaning and importance of the color white. It was one of the best conferences I have attended in a long time with panelists such as Jason Wu & Zac Posen. Each of these designers shared powerful messages. More importantly, both of them were such kind individuals. They shared with us incredible information about their background, how they got to where they are, their vision and goals for the future. It was truly an inspirational weekend filled with great opportunities for learning, professional development and of course amazing networking.
However, there was something that worried me quite a bit. So much so that I had to re-write this post a few times. I was supposed to be writing about the iconic white shirt but instead I’ll focus on an issue that I take very seriously and personally; self-confidence and how it can impact what we wear and ultimately, how others perceive us.
Many of the women participating in the panels were seasoned and well established professionals in their fields. Yet, most of them expressed a lack of confidence about wearing white or wearing colors in general. Some said that they only wore it very infrequently and only on days when they wanted or needed to be noticed. And most of them said that they preferred to wear black most of the time because they wanted to hide away from others. One panelist even said, “which for me is almost every day; I do not want to be seen.”
This resonated well with me because that was me so many years ago. I did not want to be noticed. I did not want to be seen. So I used to hide in my black clothes. It made me so sad to hear so many women say that, because I know how they feel. Today, I wear black from time to time because I want to, not because I have to, and understanding the difference between those two things is what finally set me free.
As I interview clients in order to help them create a new wardrobe, I often hear similar concerns. Most share with me that when wearing black they feel safe. Some also say that wearing black allows them to hide and to avoid having any attention directed towards them. So I also wonder, what else is black hiding them from? For me, it was keeping me from moving forward from a very painful upbringing in which I could not wear colors because being the result of a bi-racial marriage, my mother was afraid that my sisters and I would look “too Black” in a community where they were no other kids who looked like us.
I truly wish I would have had an opportunity to speak with each and every woman that day who expressed so much fear over wearing white, or truly about wearing colors in general.
White is not only the color associated with purity, it also signifies, hope, light and cleanliness among other things. Who wouldn’t want to send a message of hope through their clothes? I know that I do!
I would have loved to do a color assessment with each and every one of them in order to empower them into wearing their true colors. They already have such unbelievable careers that wearing the colors to reflect their personalities and lifestyles would have been an incredible and powerful boost of cofidence. When we wear our true colors, we stand taller and prouder; we have more confidence. Confidence is not something we tell people we have, even without speaking, people can tell whether we have it or not.
And while I understand that wearing striking bright white next to the face is quite hard to do (it has the same effects as black; it ages you) there are other colors in the white family, such as cream & beige, that would beautifully complement most skin tones.
So if you are reading this and any of this information resonates with you, take a moment to assess your wardrobe and see if you prefer wearing black or even gray over other colors that you like. Go through your wardrobe and determine the colors that you wear the most. Think about that one color that you know you love and look for it in your wardrobe. Don’t be surprised if is not in there, it happens quite often. Instead of dwelling on that, I encourage to buy at least one item in that color. Whether is an item that you wear close to your face, like a shirt, a camisole, a scarf or a jacket, or something that no one else can see like underwear. Wear it as much as you can and take notice of how you feel. Chances are you will feel more confident, powerful and just plain happier.
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Be healthy, be happy, be fabulous!