Do you ever feel afraid you'll show up as too much in an outfit that's colorful, loud, or on the dressier side?
Does bright color make you feel like you're begging for attention, and a bold, eye-catching outfit feel like you're trying too hard?
Do you crave to blend in rather than get any type of attention from your wardrobe, whether good or bad?
Many of us long to feel beautiful, appreciated, and admired, as long as it looks effortless to those around us. It's embarrassing to think people may assume we spend time on ourselves so we opt for pieces that are understated and uninteresting.
My friend, Julie, is a co-worker and Escrow Officer at a company called First Alliance Title, where she closes property transactions and works with home buyers and sellers. I've noticed the way she dresses has rubbed off on those around her and actually upleveled the style around the office.
No more schloppy black slacks and colorless business casual uniforms. No, the permission Julie has granted to those around her to enjoy their wardrobes has blossomed into colorful, thoughtful ensembles and raised spirits. The image and atmosphere of the company has shifted and all for the better.
I got with Julie to ask about the motivation behind her image and appearance and whether she's ever had a case of the "showing up as too much" scares.
Q: What can you say to introduce us to you and your style?
I would say my style is diverse and eclectic. I am inspired by strong, classy women who are not afraid to be bold and declare who they are with their wardrobes. I love Audrey Hepburn, who is charming in her style but strong and inspirational in her life. I also love Katherine Hepburn and Diane Keaton. They rock suits and march to their own drum. I always wanted to be one of the women I remember from my childhood! Women who were put together and looked calm in the storm. I never felt I could achieve that look and have worked hard to discover my style.
Q: Will you tell us more about your style discovery process over the years?
Being in stage most of my life, I had costumers. Lucky me! But when I got a "real" job I had to figure out who I wanted to be. In our industry, the wardrobes of women vary greatly. I didn't have any one person to look to. I discovered through trial and error what works best for me and my aesthetic.
Q: What motivates the way you dress every morning?
I can't make up my mind in the morning, so I always set out my clothes the night before. I try different shoes, jewelry, or a bag with a skirt. Perhaps a new blouse, just to see how it looks! Then I get ready in the morning in 10 minutes flat.
Q: What message do you hope to send with your clothing?
I believe you set the mood in the office by how you present yourself. I want my doctor, my banker and my pastor to look the part! People entrust those in our industry with their money and one of the biggest decisions of their lives. I should present an air of confidence and strength. If I look unprofessional, they may view that as a reflection of how I conduct all of my business.
Q: What does your shopping and buying process look like? How do you select the pieces you buy?
I love clothes and I love to shop, but I don't have lots of money. I go to the consignment stores often and can fine a perfect piece or a surprise addition to my wardrobe for $20. It makes me happy! I try to make mental lists of missing pieces that I look for when I shop, but I rarely find them.
Q: Have you ever worried about showing up as too much - too dressy, too attention-grabbing, or like you tried too hard?
Rarely. I only worry about overdressing at special occasions. I believe you should dress up for church and the theatre, but not everyone does. Now I say, "I don't care!" I'm dressed appropriately, and I feel good.
Q: Has anyone ever given you a negative comment about your style, and if so, what was it?
Yes. I had someone question how I dressed for being close to 60. It was veiled but it did hurt my feelings. Sometimes I wonder if I dress too young. Even if it looks good on me, it doesn't mean I should wear it, so I frequently self-edit.
Q: Does dressing the way you do change the way you feel about yourself and go about your day?
Absolutely. When I feel my worst I want to look my best. It helps to look good on the outside when you are struggling on the inside.
Q: Within the last couple of years, you've lost over 75 pounds. Did you enjoy clothing the same way before losing weight?
Yes, but not the same way. I always felt insecure and didn't want to show my shape, which is an error I think we all make. Love the body you have and the way God made you! Strive to be your best but embrace all of your strengths and challenges. We all have them!
Q: What would you say to someone who wants to up-level their style without getting attention for it?
I would ask, "why don't you want attention?" People will notice and be happy for you. Do it for you, not for them! It takes trial and error. Life is a journey and so is your style! It will change and evolve and be spectacularly you.
Curious to see what Julie wears everyday? Check out this stylish woman's wardrobe!
P.S. Many of you know how often I harp on accentuating your waistline as a woman. How many looks below don't showcase Julie's feminine waist? ;)