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How to Dress Better and Improve Your Life

Lesson 8 of 25

Wardrobe Analysis: Change

Jennifer Baumgartner

How to Dress Better and Improve Your Life

Jennifer Baumgartner

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Lesson Info

8. Wardrobe Analysis: Change

Lesson Info

Wardrobe Analysis: Change

This is where you're testing and experimenting on the questions that you have. So let's kind of follow some of your ideas. You spoke of wanting to instruct online and not sure if your outfits worked or not. Right? So first and foremost, do you have something ready to teach? Yes. Do you have material? So you have material. And for each, are they segments? They are, it's a series of things. Okay, so in that stage you can try out the different outfits, right? You can try out outfits that speak to you. You mean each stage one type and then get a feedback that way? Yeah, and you could actually ask your internet audience even if you want to. You might find that if there is kind of a similarity between the different segments in terms of content and how you're teaching it, if the only thing you're changing are your outfits, if the feedback changes, more than likely it's because of what you're wearing. That a person may have an initial response to what you're wearing. So you can kin...

da test it out that way. So if I were to work with you let's say in the change phase, I would say okay, let's say you have 10 classes. Five classes you're gonna wear something that you have in your wardrobe currently. In the second set of five classes I want you to try something that feels a little bit out of your comfort zone or something that maybe looks similar to what other people who are teaching your classes look like. Well one of the first thing that comes to mind is if I'm changing something that I'm kinda comfortable with, it will change the way I will enunciate and talk about what I'm comfortable with. So it becomes a combination, now there are two different factors that is going to decide whether it's effective or not. And the initial factor though is dress, because it's the dress that triggered the change in you and the other. Because for instance if I asked you to go ahead and put on sweats or something else and come and teach the same segment, will it change the way you present? I don't know yet. (laughs) And that's what I discover. So then I learn that it's not only the other that's responding, it's me responding to my clothing, so that clothing's not gonna work. If it's a negative thing. Again, we talked about the study on work. So for some people dressing up makes them more productive, for other people dressing down does. We have to figure out which one are you and you may experiment and try and figure that out. And then the other question you have is does other people respond differently to what I wear? And you can do these little tweaks in your presentations and you don't have to do it in your formal teaching, you can also just try it with an audience, a live audience. Let's say you wanna practice what you're wearing to a group without being online yet, and then you can talk to them about those factors. What do you think about this? You can also research others who are doing what you wanna do and see what in general are they wearing. There are a lot of studies, and we talked a little bit about that with Jim about we have these constrictions, these clothing constrictions, and we don't wanna be too far out, but do we need to be too close to the center? And a lot of studies, and we'll talk about this in more detail, a lot of studies say that's it's okay to take risks in the way you dress, it's okay to look kind of like a non-conformist in your field. As long as people know that you are an expert in your field, they'll be more accepting and actually listen to you more than if you don't really know what you're doing, you're not really part of that group, the kind of in group of those people that are learning and teaching, and you're just somebody who dressed totally inappropriately because he didn't know any better. So people respond to those who don't dress like everybody else when they feel like they've deliberately done it and they're comfortable with who they are versus somebody who is not dressing like everybody else and it's totally a mistake and they don't know any better. So people do respond to that. For me, especially in the work environment, is dressing for credibility, but I don't know like how other people perceive credibility. Depending on the audience, also the credibility could be defined some people may want to see someone in a suit or someone in like a more casual. So that also is something that I don't know really how to gauge that. So I always say when people are working to look at what they physically feel comfortable when they're wearing something, so they're physically able to do their job. The second piece is are they representing the brand and the culture of the brand? And you can figure out the culture of the brand by the colors in the waiting room, by how your boss dresses. He's the, he or she is the head of the brand, really. What the materials, the marketing material looks like, that is the culture of your brand. So making sure that that is within the same kind of realm. The third piece is that the client needs to believe that you are who you are. And the other piece is also that your coworkers believe that you are who you are. So again, similar to an actor with a costume. And I a lot of times will have people who are unsure, I'll say sit in the lunchroom of where you work or sit in the parking lot of where you work or look up the head shots of all the people that you work with and see what they're wearing. Also look at your clients, how are your clients dressing for you? How do your clients respond to what you wear? So what is the norm within your field? It's not the norm for me as a psychologist to show up in an office and wear sweatpants, right? Nobody, that is not part of, I am no longer viewed as credible. I may have the best resume and the best training in the world, but if I show up and wear sweatpants, ain't nobody coming back. (laughs) Right? But I can kinda say like okay, I have to wear something comfortable 'cause I'm moving around, I might be sitting, I might be examining, observing. The second piece is I'm representing the brand. If I'm working for myself, the brand is represented by muted colors, things like that. If I'm looking at my colleagues, I'm gonna have to dress in a professional way. When I was younger I had to wear more suits. As I get older, I don't have to be as formal. And then finally, what my clients want. Often I like to dress up for my clients and see how they respond to me. If they feel uncomfortable with me dressing up 'cause they may not be, then I shift that, I can usually tell. They'll usually make comments about my clothes. Oh, you look so nice. Boy, you really dress up. Okay. Hmm. So that's how I gauge it. So in the change phase, those are all the things we can come up with with the exploration, the formulation, and the change. Answering those questions, trying different experiments to get to the root of those questions, but sometimes we can't answer those questions without just kinda jumping in and seeing what happens, within reason. Right? So this is where we try those different shifts and changes. And see how we feel, number one, if you're not comfortable, don't do it, and how others feel. So that's the change phase and I'm actually gonna be doing a case study so it better illustrates what that looks like. In this change phase, we do talk about change whether positive or negative is stressful. And when we're doing stress assessments with patients, change of any kind, even if it's fantastic, is a stressor. So people will rank things like getting a new house or getting married, those are things that are stressful, even though they might be wonderful things. So being aware of that in that stage. I also do a lot of work with people who have addiction issues and this is something I see all the time. And they want change, their family might bring them in to change, they're behind them 100%, and then the person changes. And they're okay with the change, but people around them are having difficulty, they don't quite know what to do with this person who's shifting who they are and by default shifting their role in relation to the person. So we have to manage not just what the person is doing to change, even though it's wonderful change, but also managing people around them and how they handle the change of the primary person. And that's gonna be a normal part of this process too. Does that matter the type of addictions they have? 'cause when you say addiction, you think about substance abuse and things, but there are other addictions. Does it matter? Most addictions I find when I work with, it's not with everybody, but a lot of times a person has to recalibrate who they are in the structure, the family structure, or the matrix of the primary person whose getting help. Because they may have taken on the role of the caretaker, they may have done everything in the home, they may be the ones covering for that person, and now they're not doing that anymore. So if they have used all their resources to do that and all their time, now what? Now who are they? And then they have to really reformulate their identity and their new role in relation to the person that's getting help. It's very common, it happens quite a bit, and it's a normal process. So this is obviously not as heavy of a change, but you may find that as you're shifting what you wear and kind of going after your goals, you may get a positive response, you may get a negative response, even though these are positive changes. You also may feel stress about these positive changes, right? So you have to address all those things and that's what we talk about in the change phase, being prepared for that. I always fill in the steps. So I look at you're in your life in step A, you wanna get to step B, how do we come up with steps to get there? In your wardrobe, we look at step A. I have a wardrobe full of clothes from the seventies. Well, what do you wanna do? I wanna use the seventies in a modern way. Okay, how do we do that? Well, we look through your wardrobe, we see what works, what doesn't, we look at current fashion trends that might be seventies-related, and then we create the steps in the wardrobe. Like yeah, keep your platform shoes, but let's do this kind of platform. Or we can do a wide leg pant, but nowadays everybody's kinda wearing the crop wide leg and that's more in style, so we can get that feel without you looking dated and feeling uncomfortable. When we look at the internal, we say well, I don't wanna wear my seventies fashion that's from the seventies, I wanna update it, but I also feel like I wanna change my career. So I feel like I wanna develop a business and my business is in jewelry making. I'm just making something up here. Okay, well how do we use the wardrobe to facilitate that? Well, I know I need to be comfortable, I know I need to have some currency, I also know that I want my wardrobe to have some kind of sparkle, some kind of creative pizzazz, so I'm gonna do that. I also know that I need my clients to take me seriously, so I'm gonna find out and do some research by looking at books and talking to people once a week for one hour, finding out what they might do. So there are specific changes that are done weekly to figure out how you wanna alter the external and the internal. so I ask you, what would you change first either in your life or in your wardrobe? What would you wanna alter? What do you hope to change? Well, what would you change? So much. Well, in my wardrobe I think I would like to have clothes that speak a little bit better to my personality. So I find that I want something that's maybe a little more approachable where there's a little more color, a little more sparkle, a little more life, because I feel that way inside, but my wardrobe doesn't always speak to that. So I'm trying, it's a slow process. And my little five and a half-year-old will help me 'cause she usually will be fascinated by the things that are a little more sparkly and a little more patterned. So she's my little style inspiration. Do I wanna dress like a five and a half-year-old? No, but do I want her to help me kind of inspire? Yes. So what I do is I do try to wear clothes like once a week, this is my own homework, I wear clothes once a week that I might feel a little uncomfortable with, that is not quite what I would normally wear. And I just kinda see what I feel like and I see if it's something I'm comfortable with. And I found that as I've been doing this, I'm getting more and more comfortable with more color and pattern than I normally would. So it's working. And again, my daughter is like my little stylist. I'm like what necklace should I wear today, Regan? And she's like oh, this one with every color under the rainbow, perfect. And I'll wear it, I'll have her dress me. And it's totally out of my comfort zone. So that's what I do in my external piece of my life. Okay, how does that help me facilitate in my work? I'm actually just starting to work, fingers crossed, at a VA hospital where I'm gonna be working with veterans. So I want to show them that I honor them for their service to our country, but I also feel like if they're dealing with some heavy stuff, I can lighten that with things that I wear maybe that are a little more filled with life, give them hope because of the colors and the patterns gonna lift their mood as well as mine. So I do feel that if I wear those brighter colors maybe, something that's a little more out of my comfort zone, then I could make me maybe feel a little more comfortable and give me a little more energy and make me feel like I'm expressing who I am with what I wear. And I feel like it could make me a better clinician in terms of relating to other people and just really giving the message that I am approachable, I'm not totally serious and dour, even though my clothes usually are. (laughs) so anybody else? For example, what would I change first? One of the things that I'm conscious about or I like to be is being age appropriate. I see a lot of, especially in this case, men 'cause I look, is they wearing things that I think is inappropriate or not age appropriate I should say. How do you make that gauge? Where do you go and think about this? There's no, how do I think that am I being age appropriate, how could I be age appropriate, and that sort of thing? Then I would know whether I need to change it or not. I think the biggest thing is making sure you're not looking at that question from a fashion perspective. You can get a fashion answer, you know? We know, we can kind of figure that out. Nothing too short, nothing too tight, nothing too bright, nothing too, not from another decade, you don't wanna repeat your trends that you've worn the first time around, so the are answers to those questions in terms of fashion. For this, it's really more of the internal piece. So do you feel comfortable with what you're wearing? If you don't because you've deemed it not age appropriate, why is it age inappropriate? Is it because you've been told that it's age inappropriate and you like it? Or is it that you have really decided it's age inappropriate? So it's really a self decision rather than other and the thing that might come out is you may find that you really like the outfits that might be deemed age inappropriate, but you don't like the response you get from other people. And that's a different issue that you have to work on. So that might mean that you wear something a little bit scary to you, you go out during rush hour to the metro, subway, I don't know what you call it in here, we call it in DC the metro, and I'll have somebody say all right, I want you to go out, I want you to wear this like super bright polka dot orange outfit that you love, but you would never wear because you're afraid what people will think. Might be age appropriate. And I say what was that like for you? And we talk about that and assess that and I give them homework assignments in the change phase. So maybe you don't wear it at work 'cause work is you're supposed to be serious, it's not quite comfortable for you, but maybe you're going out on the town with your wife, you're not gonna see anybody probably that you know, it's gonna be okay if you might try something that you're not sure is appropriate or not, and then you see what you feel like wearing it. And then you might wanna see how other people respond to it. And if it totally makes you uncomfortable a couple times, then it's not for you and it's not age appropriate for you. These rules about what you can wear depending on your age, they change all the time. We always hear with like females is a big one, cut your hair. As soon as you turn 40, chop your hair off. Well, is that really true? Can I have long hair? There are many women who have long hair, look beautiful in long hair, so why do we have these dictums that tell us what we can and cannot do at a certain age? Or what we can and cannot wear. There are some 20-year-olds that maybe can wear a miniskirt and they don't like it, they don't feel comfortable in it. So they shouldn't be wearing a miniskirt even though they're told they can. And there may be some 70-year-olds who are told they're not supposed to wear a miniskirt in fashion rules, but in these kind of rules, the psychology of dress rules, inside out rules, I say do you like it, do you love it, do you feel good? Wear your miniskirt. So it just kind of changes, a different lens that I'm using. Okay, so. Does anybody wanna answer this question? Did you all just get away with this by not answering this question? I'll answer it. Yes. 'cause you talking, him talking and stuff about like just there's things that just make you happy to wear, why not just wear it? And then it made me kinda start to realize in my own life it's so easy to be serious and there's always times where I'm like just let go, like just go with the flow, don't be the one always constantly having to make all the plans. So then it starts going back to like the whole green shirt that I was just wanting to wear, but then I felt like maybe in this setting I need to be a little more serious or a little more, whatever, dressed right. So I just realized for my change is when I wake up in the morning and there is this red shirt that actually like all of a sudden just brought me a little smile, well, just go wear it. As long as I'm fitting the business casual in my office, why not? And it's also kind of in this phase like processing and exploring what the change is like for you, 'cause like I said, some people will like it, some people won't, and then why, why does that matter to you? What does that mean? Is it something that you've dealt with in your past? So there are all these other elements. Obviously I never would want anyone to feel uncomfortable if they are gonna be ridiculed. Nobody's okay with the ridicule, nobody can be like I'm fine, I don't care. You are impacted by what others think and that's okay, that's very normal. It's doing it in a way that feels safe, it's doing it in a way that you learn more, not about your clothes, it really has nothing to do about your clothes, it's really what else is there? Clothes is just a really easy, safe vehicle to try these different things to learn more about yourself and that's why I like to look at clothes. So, for instance, if I have something that I feel kinda weird wearing, like I told you, this like super psychedelic romper, I put it on, people liked it. What was my deal? Why was I not okay with that? What was the issue? And obviously it was just like drawing attention to myself in any way, maybe inviting criticism 'cause it was a little different, maybe it was too bright. And so I actually looked at this item not in terms of the construction and the color, but I had to look at it in terms of what was going in internally with me. And also expanding it, what else was I doing that with? I was doing that with other things too. So there are other things that I wanted to do that I held back on that I learned from this little crazy romper that I should've worn that I was holding back because I was concerned about what others thought and how could I do what I like without doing that. Another point you bring up is this understanding of rather than looking at your life from this point forward, it's really interesting to look at your life from the end of your life backward. Because if you look at your life from the end of your life backward, you all live till 200, right? My hope and dream for you. You're 200 years old and you're ready to go the great beyond, whatever that is for you, would you really have cared that you had worn that green outfit? Nope. And in fact, you'd probably be like as a little old lady like, darn it, (chuckling) I should've wore that. So that would be more of the comment you would have than I'm so glad I wore that safe outfit, right? So I always like to look at a life, whether it's stress behaviors or any behaviors, from the end back to the present. I also think another really interesting thing which seems not related but it actually is, I'm really fascinated with end of life commentary or people who are older who talk about their life and 99.9% of the time people will say I wish I didn't worry so much. That's like a big one. Aside from like spending more time with family, traveling, one of the big ones is I wish I didn't worry. And again, you can practice that in a safe way with your clothing, it's an easy, small change. And my hope is that if you change the small stuff, usually it gets easier and easier to do it with well, I wore that green shirt today, the dress today, but you know what, I also want to go skydiving. Let me go skydiving off the cliffs that I climb. Really, it's learning to feel comfortable with discomfort and being okay with expanding yourself, in your case. So that's kinda how you'll use the change phase.

Class Description

Every time we buy a piece of clothing and choose an outfit to wear, we’re saying something about who we are. Our dressing behaviors are like windows into our psyches, exposing our deepest feelings, desires, conflicts, and problems.

Author and clinical psychologist Dr. Jen Baumgartner will begin by looking at the general principles of psychology of dress and fashion, then dive into the nine most common dressing difficulties—from buying more than we need to being bored with our look to avoiding mirrors.

In this fascinating course, Dr. Baumgartner will not only help you examine your wardrobe and how it reflects your emotions, but will teach you how to modify your choices so you can make real improvements to your life—both inside and out.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Understand the principles of acquiring, assembling, storing, organizing, and removing.
  • Identify which of the nine dress difficulties applies to you.
  • Stop buying items that you don’t really need or want.
  • Avoid always being in work clothes or mom jeans.
  • Formulate a strategy for changing your behaviors and revamping your wardrobe.

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Yolanda Azpiazu

Loved it! Incredible class, so interesting and filled with new concepts, I am a big fan of the author and I admire her for the way she suggests us to analyse things with curiosity and looking "bellow the water", rather than judgement. Thank you so much for this wonderful class Dr. Baumgartner.

a Creativelive Student

It's about how you dress, but really, it's about how to use the way you dress as a lens to better understand yourself. Packed with useful information and tips, highly recommend! Thanks Jenny!