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Improve how you feel, every day
2020-01-08 | By Allison Hamilton-Rohe
The world is a complex place, with myriad problems that can sometimes feel insurmountable. It’s easy to shake your head and feel overwhelmed. However, one of the best ways to easily improve how you feel every day is by tweaking how you approach one thing you’re already doing: getting dressed.
When I get dressed, I choose not only what might be appropriate for that day’s activities, but also how I want to feel. It’s intentional, but it’s also easy because I’ve designed my wardrobe to work this way. By observing what makes you feel powerful and confident, integrating meaningful colours, patterns or accessories into your wardrobe and spending just a little bit of time imagining the person you want to be, you can actually make that person show up.
When your personal style is aligned with the person you want to be, you allow yourself to become that person. This is critical–and proven.
Carol Dweck, a psychology professor at Stanford University who wrote Mindset: The Psychology of Success, explains that our self-image influences 40% of our overall happiness. Ellen Langer, a professor of psychology at Harvard University, built on that mindset work and details in Counterclockwise how one-word primers can shift not only your self-image but change the way your actual physiology works.
Finally, Christopher Petrilli, MD, assistant professor of hospital medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School demonstrated in a recent study that when doctors wear their white coat, patients immediately see them as more knowledgeable.
This is stunning research we can use in our everyday life. You can ask yourself: what would your white coat look like? Clarifying the answer to that question can create a positive feedback loop that informs not only the people you see every day but also reminds you who you are, what you stand for and where you’re going.
Showing up as your true self
When I began my business, DailyOutfit, I started out doing wardrobe review and personal shopping. One of my first clients was Anne*, a physician who regularly met with cancer patients. Her job was to take biopsies, read scans and deliver results, which is an incredibly technical and critically important job.
Her work wardrobe consisted of crisp, black clothing under her doctor’s white coat. She had chosen black cotton because it hid the blood stains and could easily be washed. It was a practical and appropriate solution.
The white coat has been proven to increase physician’s performance as well as improve patient outcomes, so I knew we were good there. But, the black, crisp cotton clothing underneath was not helping her be approachable and represent compassionate care.
We had to shift her daily outfits to convey her true warmth, generosity and caring side. She is the kind of doctor who welcomes questions and wants to calm her patients at their most vulnerable, exactly the kind of doctor you want in this sort of situation.
However, she was showing up as something else entirely–a bit scary, a touch off-putting and definitely not someone you’d feel comfortable shedding tears around.
Using colour meaning
When co-creating her personal style, we began by employing a completely different colour palette to change the way her patients literally saw her. In the process, we also primed her to show up as her true self. We kept the fabrics washable and added in some prints to hide any blood stains.
She went on to champion the need for ultrasound as a new standard-of-care for testing women for breast cancer, testified in front of Congress and went on to do segments on breast cancer screenings on the local news. In other words, she was able to truly step into her purpose.
Let’s be clear: personal style did not make Anne a great doctor. That was already true. However, her new, authentic personal style allowed her patients–and colleagues–to literally see her as a great doctor. It gave her the confidence to acknowledge and recognise her particular brand of genius on a daily basis. That confidence led her to trust the strength of her own voice to champion a new standard of care.
Leveraging the power of personal style
Personal style can prime you to achieve similar success in your own life. It can make manifest the gifts, effort and purpose you already possess. All you need to do is recognise its power and allow yourself to embrace it.
First, think about the outfit that makes you feel the most confident or the most powerful. What comes to mind? Is it that fabulous green shift dress you wear with your grandmother’s pearls? Or the suit with the crisp dress shirt you picked up in London and your brown loafers?
Hold that outfit in your mind and allow yourself to feel the feeling you have in your body when you imagine yourself wearing it. Wouldn’t you love to have that feeling every day? It’s totally possible. Now, observe what you are wearing today. Does it give you the same feeling? If yes, wonderful! If no, why not? Give yourself permission to feel confident and powerful every day–it is absolutely allowed. In fact, that’s what I want for you! Every day, you can leave the house feeling amazing when you tweak how you approach getting dressed.
*not her real name
About the author
Allison Hamilton-Rohe helps you define your true beauty and translate it into a personal style you can inhabit with ease. To receive your Personal Style Starter Series, check out her site dailyoutfit.com.