Last week I with a client for a shopping trip.
I could tell immediately that her heart just wasn’t in it, and I asked her what was going on.
Turned out, she had seen several employees laid off earlier in the week at the small firm where she works. What’s worse, her own job, while not imminently under threat, was no longer as secure as it had been before the election. She was having trouble wrapping her head around skirt shopping when her friends and former colleagues were suffering and, in the larger context, political upheaval, uncertainty, and dismay is in the ether.
Put another way: Who cares what I’m wearing, goes this line of thinking, when the world as we know it is falling apart?
Here’s my response to that legitimate reluctance to invest in one’s image at this time.
We’ve seen plenty written how to survive times like these—that this current environment requires a marathon, not a sprint, and maintaining this effort over a long period in turn requires extreme self-care. Part of that effort is nurturing our self-love and confidence, stoking it so it says strong, especially in the face of doubt and disappointment, even anger.
What’s more, many of us are finding ourselves wanting to speak up, agitate, protest, and resist, whether by writing letters, showing up at demonstrations, advocating for causes and people we believe in, or doing whatever our own convictions requires. To do that—to summon this level of energy—requires presence. And presence, as we know by now, is in large part about image: How we hold ourselves, how we use our voice and our body language, how we express ourselves verbally, and of course how we present ourselves through out clothing—whether the occasion is a rally at the White House, a town hall protest, a sit-in, a decisive and important team meeting at work, or a networking event where crucial conversations will take place and relationships formed.
Seen in this light, what we wear has everything to do with how we survive and thrive and act and resist in times of trouble. It has to do with the faith we feel in ourselves, the relationships we forge with others, and how we show up in those relationships and at work and in the large world where we want to be heard and have an impact.
When you think about it like this, can you really afford not to invest in your image?
(Ketura Persellin is an image consultant and personal stylist in Washington, DC. Please contact her at Ketura at JoyfulCloset.com to schedule a complimentary get-acquainted session.)