BattleAre you in a style rut? Not sure how to battle your way out?

Feeling stuck in your neutral-zone wardrobe or same old, same old look? It’s easy to get into a habit or keep a look that worked for you…once…a decade ago. Maybe it’s time for a change!

Recognize and acknowledge your own rut

A style rut can be hard to see in the mirror because you may have slipped into the ‘comfortable’ twilight zone. The person looking back at you is familiar, sometimes too familiar, so you may need someone else to point out the obvious. Sometimes we deny the fact that we are in a rut because it is too painful to think about how to get out. The question most often asked is “Where do I begin.” Many quit before even embarking on a game plan.

To determine whether you’re stuck in a style rut, ask yourself:

  • Has shopping gone from pleasurable to painful?
  • Are you a repeat shopper – pete and repeat?
  • Could your friends and family guarantee what you will be wearing, before you arrive?
  • Are you underwhelmed by your outfit before you even look in the mirror?
  • Do you wish your alter ego could get you dressed – thinking superman in a shiny color-block outfit?
  • Do you feel like you just don’t have the time to care?
  • Is there not a line-item in the budget with your name on it?
  • Are you too busy with your children, your aging parents or your job to add ‘me’ time to the schedule?
  • Do you find yourself hoping no one recognizes the same black pants for the third time this week?

Lets start by taking the emotion out of your wardrobe –

There are clothes you hold on to because you paid good money for them, you think they will come back in style or because you enjoyed how you felt when you wore them 10 years ago! I repeat, take the emotion out of your closet. If they are special – take a picture, if they were pricey consign them, if you enjoyed feeling good in them, give it the old college try and find some new duds to feel sassy in. No doubt something new can make you look and feel fabulous again!

Our wardrobes should be filled with emotionally neutral objects – we just don’t have room for that much baggage in our closet.

Try to pinpoint the reason for your resistance –

Outside forces can interfere with our sense of self such as increasing weight, hormones, health issues or life in general. Recognizing you are there is half the battle. Before jumping in to try to fix it, try to discern how it happened, how you got there, what were the detours. Giving yourself permission to define the problem, thereby gives you clarity to start to work on solutions.

However, much like speedy New Year’s Day diets, crash makeovers rarely work. Small twists and tweaks are more effective and longer lasting than a massive emotionally charged overhaul. Find a way to break the rut in small incremental steps, doing one or two things each day that change the routine just enough to make you do a double take in the mirror. Dove_0426pg37Perhaps adding a scarf, wearing a statement necklace, wearing drop earrings instead of the same old posts or even just wearing red by choice! Not only will others notice, so will you. It’s natural and healthy to grow and evolve, and when we consistently opt for the same-old, same-old, we are stunting our growth emotionally and opting out of the bigger things as well. Remember, transformation happens from the inside out. Start small and grow.

We’re all for comfort and convenience, so we know how easy it can be to wear the same dark pants and blouse (or some variation of it) day in, day out. But when you feel like you have to explain your outfit to colleagues (these aren’t the same pants I wore yesterday, they only look the same), it might be time to change things up.

Here are a few Style Rx options: 

Try incorporating a new trend into your wardrobe, which will instantly update your outfit. Not sure what’s on trend? Grab a new style magazine and perform the Post-it Plan tagging something on each page that catches your eye! Note it whether or not you can afford it, it is just an exercise to get your eyes open to the world of fashion.

If you are a neutral dresser, pop some color up near your face or instead of your go-to stripes, opt for color-blocked styles in up to the moment seasonal shades, aubergine being the go-to color this Fall.

Perform your own closet mini makeover with your one-shot-wonders – the things in your closet with no mates. Go through and pull them all out, take them for a day trip to the mall and find them some mates! They are not going to find mates themselves while tucked away in the back of your dark closet – perform an intervention on their behalf! Just that category alone can increase your choices by 10%!

Swear to never wear your yoga pants to places where no mats are required. Put the Lululemons down, pretend they are not part of the pant category and go out and buy yourself some big girl pants! Pretty sure you agree you really shouldn’t be wearing the same outfit as your 14-year-old daughter (pretty sure she looks way better in those Lulu’s anyway). Your in-closet ratio of tops to bottoms should be 3 to 1. If your closet is 5 to 1, Houston we have a problem. Get out there and buy more pants or skirts to balance your wardrobe math!

Spark some creative juices by finding new sources of inspiration. Stop pinning like you are a Vogue editor.

Start pinning items that actually relate to the life you live with a touch of spandex so you can stretch the ideas to items that relate to the life you aspire to live. We are not talking about after winning the lottery; we are talking the season you are in. Start small – small begets progress in the right direction.

Engage in styling challenges 

Stacy London, while in her workshop in NY, challenged me to this activity. Off-the-street clients brought in 10 pieces from their wardrobe and we were challenged to make 3 completely different outfits from those 10 pieces for a work, casual and evening look.

Try these 4 challenges just for the fun of it and watch how well you do shopping in your own closet.

  • Go through your existing wardrobe and make 10 outfits that have never been combos before, complete with shoes and accessories. Take photos.
  • Dove_0431pg7Pick a sample look –
    one of my favorites is a pair of dark wash jeans and a crisp white T-shirt. Then make 10 different looks only using accessories – scarves, jewelry and belts. Take photos.
  • Swap the exercise with a girlfriend – you pull 10 outfits from her closet and she pulls 10 from yours. You will be surprised that what you see as the same old, same old, others’ might see as fabulous possibilities.
  • Pull together 3 monochromatic outfits. Take photos.

So there you go – basically just recognize that you are in a rut and start battling your way out, one punch at a time.

Doreen Dove empowers women to use style as a tool to take strategic control of their image. She is an image consultant, personal stylist, professional speakerand author. Her extensive background in all aspects of retail has uniquely qualified her to work with women of all ages and professions, coaching them to personal style success.

Book a complimentary Boost Your Image Breakthrough Session with me. We’ll chat about digging you out of your style rut! Then we’ll move on to your closet, your image and whatever else comes up! I look forward to ‘meeting’ you on the phone!

Need your own style guide? Look no more – here is my newly released eBook! Confidence Is Always In Style Available here

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