As a wardrobe stylist, I’ve met many women. And part of what makes me great at my job is that I’m excellent at remembering not only names and faces but also what a woman was wearing when we met. But Dana was an exception to the rule.
When I started writing my first book, I posted on social media a request to interview women about their wardrobes. Dana was one of seventy volunteers. At the beginning of our phone interview, she informed me that we met at a women’s leadership retreat a few months earlier. To this day, I don’t remember us ever crossing paths.
The Dana who had shown up to that wooded lakeside compound for the retreat was a forty-one-year-old looking for a change. As a VP of banking technology at one of the world’s largest banks, Dana was a hard worker and had become the critical resource her team and her family relied on. Because she was always doing things for others, Dana never bothered to care about her image, adopting an Invisible Wardrobe of baggy black pants, tops, and sweaters.
“I was moving in this invisible state,” Dana explained when asked about her wardrobe choices. “I know people physically saw me because they were not bumping into me, but I don’t think people saw me. Because of that, I thought it didn’t matter what I was wearing.”
While Dana was sitting in that conference room, she felt a heightened sense of power . “That was literally the moment where I was able to start giving myself permission to show up,” she told me, excitement and power in her voice. “And I knew the first thing I needed to do was change my wardrobe. When I got home, I ordered six dresses from Macy’s in my real size.”
“Real size? What had you always been wearing?” I asked.
“My real size is a size 4,” Dana confessed. “I had been wearing a size 10 in all of my black clothes because I didn’t want anyone to notice me. But when I put on that blue shift dress with a top-to-bottom zipper, I said to myself, ‘Girl, you’ve been hiding this shape all these years?’ I had also ordered a couple of pairs of stilettos and I put a pair on and, instantly, I felt tall. I didn’t feel small anymore. I felt confident.”
Once Dana saw how good she looked in those first six dresses, she ordered six more. Suddenly, her closet was filled with size 4 dresses . . . and the size 10 black drabs are now nowhere to be found.
Now that Dana finally sees herself for more than her professional skills or acts of service, everyone else does too. “I’ve noticed that, in these dresses, people are talking to me much more — not just about what I can do for them, but just to talk and connect,” she proudly shares. “Before, they would just show up when they wanted something from me and then leave. But now, 80 percent of those interactions is because they just want to be in my space. I’m attracting so many different kinds of people and opportunities than I ever did before, all thanks to those dresses.”
While I still don’t remember the Dana I met at that conference, I will never forget this story of how clothes are an outer reflection of our inner state.
By building a wardrobe that matches your truest self, you’ll be motivated to do more, try more, and explore more. Your confidence will become contagious and intoxicating. And like Dana, you’ll start attracting more goodness into your life. Whether it’s your career, your love life, your friendships, or yourself, new doors will start opening for you.
Whatever you long to be, or do, or have, you’re worthy of it. I encourage you to build a wardrobe that reflects that.