The Blue Floral Dress: What I Learned from Feeling Daggy for a Day
I am going to ask you to suspend your judgement for a moment and consider that the wardrobe is not just an external expression of ourselves. In my experience both personally and with Wearing Your Worth™ clients, our wardrobe holds the patterns and the keys to uncover our limiting beliefs, dysfunctional mindsets and distorted view of ourselves. We use it to hide, to create veils and we also use it to anchor in critical self-talk, daily.
We compare ourselves to others – we decide we want to look like others look, and we allow the media or other influential people to tell us what we should be wearing to ensure that we are accepted.
I’ve spent over three decades as a part of the fashion industry. From Buying to Marketing and Senior Executive roles at some of Australia’s most prominent fashion retailers. I was a major player in the set up and strategy of The Iconic and was a judge on Project Runway Australia for two series, so, I guess you could say, my background certainly gives me credibility when it comes to fashion and what to wear. YET, to be honest, that is not what gives me my true expertise within this field, nor my passion. What drives me to assist others to connect with and express their own unique beauty and most powerful Self through Wearing Your Worth™ … is that I am a woman who has felt the ever so familiar insecurities, vulnerabilities and anxieties that many others experience, when it comes to my appearance, my Self-worth and the reclaiming of Who I Really Am.
I am on a continual journey with myself and my clients to uncover and unleash who we are and how we can best express this. The spark of beauty is in authenticity. And authenticity is only possible when we know who we are – when we connect with the joy and passion within us, as well as our shadows and vulnerability.And the trick is, none of this is fixed – we are very much a product of our self-perceptions and the stories we tell ourselves due to what belief patterns we have taken on. Our sense of Self is ours to actively question, re-tune and engage with.
The Blue Floral Dress Test
Yesterday I unwittingly put myself and my wardrobe to the test. I deliberately went out in a dress that felt ‘daggy’. I wanted to see what would happen. You see, when I bought this dress last October I was in a feminine, empowered mood. In this state, I had come to realise that my wardrobe was full of structured pieces and lacked flowing, soft and more feminine choices – I had been so stuck in my masculine mind that my creativity was blocked, I was lacking a playful side. I felt unbalanced. So, I went to buy some flowing, feminine clothing. I happened to be in Bali at the time, so cost was not a concern – I bought five dresses. The day I shopped for these dresses, it was as though a different part of me went shopping; a softer, more feminine and sensual being took over. I felt so beautiful as I adorned myself with different striking prints that felt sexy, bright yellows and whites that felt sensual, blues that were calming and small florals that felt ever so innocent.
Returning to the more masculine, albeit urbane undertones of Melbourne, I still connected with all but one dress. It was a blue and white floral dress.
So, when I was heading down to the beach yesterday on a day of high 30°C, I challenged myself to put on my bathers and then throw this dress on top. I tend to follow the inner guidance I get these days, even in what I wear – I always know when my soul is up to something!
When I put the dress on something just felt ‘off’, I felt ‘off’. It was hard to put my finger on it. As a fashion critic I knew it ‘looked’ fine, yet the feeling it invoked in me was a feeling of insignificance, of feeling like I was a ‘nothing’. I was struggling with this feeling, and the longer I looked at myself in the mirror, the more adjectives my inner critic came up with; ugly, plain, not good enough – I could not work out why I felt these intense feelings, yet I felt them loud and clear. It felt like an old familiar sensation, I hadn’t experienced this kind of negative self-talk for SUCH a long time.
Later, I would realise what was going on … the memory would surface of the blue floral pinafore I used to wear as a young child, maybe 3-5 years old. When I was a kid, I felt … well, I want to say ugly, yet I didn’t feel so much ugly; I just felt like, well… a nothing. The blue floral dress was invoking these same memories – it was connecting me with that unhealed part of me, the part I have tried to bury in the past – feeling insignificant, not good enough, like I am a …nothing. It was as if it had been hiding under my doona for decades quiety tugging at my unconscious strings and now the dress, was bringing it all up for me.
It was not a repulsive feeling – it was worse than that. It was an insidious, you mean nothing feeling. Amazing, right? A simple dress really can invoke those types of feelings.
So, what did I do? Well, I took it off and reached for a beautiful white and yellow, bright, sensual long top that worked really well over my bathers – yep, this felt beautiful and I glided down the hallway feeling the sensuality …until … wait … there’s that feeling again, It’s like a jack-in-the-box that I’m trying to jam back in, but it just won’t stay. Even with the change of clothes I am awake to the feeling of insignificance and it is filling my senses with a dull ache.
Being a student of A Course In Miracles for over twenty years now, I know that a sharp pain is better than living with a dull ache and pretending it’s not there. So, I decided I would challenge myself to wear the blue floral dress, and see if I could connect with my sense of self-love regardless. It was time to own Who I Was, rather than avoid who I didn’t want to be.
Even whilst driving to the beach for 1.5 hours I was aware that the dress was having an impact. So, I ventured into myself and started to shift my mindset around how beautiful I am on the inside and how I can wear anything and allow the true beauty of who I am to come through, if I am committed to being the real Me.
I am pleased to say I did succeed. I felt so beautiful by the time I reached Flinders Ocean Beach, that I felt completely happy to be there. It was 8.30am and no one else was on the beach. And yes, my soul was definitely up to something. It dawned on me that this was the beach where I had spent many years of holidays with my family. It’s easy to connect with childhood memories down there – and although we don’t have the old beach house anymore, I still go there a few times a year, even on day trips.
I got out on this deserted beach and began to walk. As a kid, my sisters and I would play a game to see how many cowrie shells we could collect. They were the prize of all shells and we would have our eyes peeled for cowrie-gold as we walked the beach together. I decided to walk in the opposite direction to our childhood route. I was feeling connected with myself and my surroundings as my blue floral dress fluttered in the soft breeze. I felt so free and feminine; it was a feeling of non-caring that was foreign to me. I waded through the shallow water at one stage and the hem of my got wet. I revelled in the fact that I didn’t care! This may seem like a small thing, but for me it was significant; it alerted me to my general constraint, my needing to look perfect, and the ways this stops me from exploring and feeling free to do as I please. I came to see that if I am not attached to the ‘beauty’ of my clothes and instead value the journeys they have to offer, I am freer in myself and, surprise, surprise, I feel more beautiful.
As the sun started to warm up and my feet felt the sand massaging them, a memory flooded in. It was of being in the lounge room at our holiday home in Flinders, playing cards when I was a young child. I knew I would win, it was like this superpower that I knew I had. I was playing with my sisters and it wasn’t that I didn’t think they had super powers – I just knew that I did. I remembered other times of feeling this same deep childhood self-confidence, yet never this memory. It was amazing to feel and connect with that self-confidence. There in the sand decades later, I smiled, knowing that the innate power of connection to my Soul, to my essence, the powerful being within me, was a natural connection for me, and it was back. I was aware that allowing myself to drop ‘needing’ to be ‘pretty’ and perfectly presented, had opened this portal for me to re-connect with my inner beauty and power.
My mind returned to the cowrie shells and I realised I wasn’t attached to finding any. I felt limitless, free of needing to compete with my sisters, free of needing to look beautiful, free of needing to wear the latest and greatest, free to just be… me! And then it appeared: right in front of me was the most amazingly beautiful cowrie shell I’ve ever seen. It felt like confirmation.
I picked it up and couldn’t resist giving it a little kiss, like it was a newborn come to deliver another sign that life is in perfect order. Within me the word trust emerged loudly and clearly. For the next twenty minutes, I walked freely on the beach and each time I thought about the knowing I had as I kid, and still do now, of the power within me connected to my source – boom, another cowrie shell appeared! I picked them up and put them in my hand like they were priceless gifts from the universe, reminding me of my perfection, no matter what.
Within twenty minutes there were almost twenty shells in my hands. I took them down to wash them in the sea and revelled again in getting my dress wet, and not caring.
It reminded me again of how I have constrained myself throughout my life, making my appearance so important and at the forefront of everything I do. Although I have been told how beautiful I look, I do have to ask myself now – at what price to my Self? I realise now, that knowing I am deeply beautiful, that my beauty resides within me, is far more important than adoration or compliments from others.
That morning, another step in freeing myself took place. And with it a further clarification of priorities. It’s not that I don’t like to look nice – I am a highly visual being and love the look of a beautiful outfit. It’s that I was reminded once again of the focus; the beauty I feel towards myself within is so much more important. I can look outwardly beautiful, yet if it is only to mask the painful sensation of feeling like a nothing, then the beauty-full feeling is short lived, and the dull ache continues.
I will challenge myself again with the blue floral dress, and who knows, I may come to love it as a representation of a reclaimed me that has grown up to honour and treasure the deeply beautiful woman she has become.