When it comes to fashion we all have our own individual comfort zone. Some people feel at home in patterned jumpsuits and statement heels, others feel dressed up in anything other than jeans and a t-shirt. And as long as your comfort zone matches your style, everything is A-ok. Because it doesn't matter if you don't feel comfortable in crop tops if they aren't your style anyway.
The trouble is when your comfort zone is keeping you from fully expressing your personal style. When you would love to wear a maxi dress, a specific colour, or platform heels, but are too self-conscious to give it a try. When you think “I would love to be able to pull that off, but I know I would just look silly”.
That’s when your comfort zone is getting in the way between you and great style.
The fix: Instead of letting your comfort zone determine what you wear, work towards expanding it, until it covers the full spectrum of colours, silhouettes and looks you love.
Think of your comfort zone as a muscle. You can train yourself to become more confident when it comes to fashion, by gradually upping the ante. The trick is to really ease into it and set the bar low at the beginning.
Here are three ways to do that:
Pair new (scary) pieces with your go-to basics
Rule number one: Take it one piece at a time, even if your Pinterest boards are full of bold head-to-toe looks. If you are inspired by all-black grungy outfits, find one item that reflects that look (for example a leather jacket) and pair it with your regular daytime clothes for a while. If you love bodycon dresses, wear one underneath a longline cardigan and with casual flats. If you secretly dream of dressing like a Free People model, ease into that look by wearing just one bohemian piece or accessory with your basics. Once you feel comfortable with that baby step, you can gradually add more pieces into the mix.
Wear toned-down versions of your goal look for a while
Another way to get used to bolder styles is to wear a toned-down version at first. For example, instead of dark lipstick, no mascara and slick-backed hair, go for a deep berry colour, wear just one subtle coat of mascara and pull your hair back, but not as tightly. Instead of super wide-legged culottes, go for a pair with a slightly slimmer leg. Instead of a bright orange, pick a softer peach colour. Instead of a leopard print coat, wear a leopard print clutch, and so on.
Get used to new pieces by wearing them around strangers first
One reason many people feel self-conscious wearing a bolder or different look than usual, is a fear of what their friends or colleagues at work might say. When you are leaving your cushy comfort zone even innocent conversation starters like "Ooh, why so dressed up, are you trying to impress someone?" can leave you feeling exposed and threaten your already pretty shaky confidence. If you worry how others might react to you wearing a bolder style and it's keeping you from trying new things, do this: simply wear your new, bolder pieces around strangers only, for example while you are out shopping, travelling or even just at home. Pretend like that's the way you always dress. Eventually, your bolder pieces will feel like a natural part of your wardrobe and you'll be able to brush off any comment with confidence.
IMAGES // Pink coat: Startraks Photo + GC Images; striped pants: Melody Jeng via WhoWhatWear.com + via Vogue.mx; white top: modernlegacy.com.au + unknown. Leopoard print: Stockholm Streestyle + Damsel in Dior; Dark lip: unknown + Tadashi Shoji Fall 2014, Imaxtree; wide-leg pants: Être Cécile X Manrepeller + the-northernlight.com.
Do you have any tips for expanding your comfort zone?
Is there anything you would love to wear that's outside your comfort zone right now?