What Style Mindset has to do with Rachel Hollis and Demi Lovato.

I recently discovered Rachel Hollis and her book Girl Stop Apologizing.

Yes, yes, I’m late to the party. As part of reading every business book by a woman I can find, Rachel’s book showed up in a Google search — I’m always curious to see what the big G prioritizes.

And yes, I’m getting to style… but first

Baby, I’m sorry (I’m not sorry)
Baby, I’m sorry (I’m not sorry)
Being so bad got me feelin’ so good
Showing you up like I knew that I would
Baby, I’m sorry (I’m not sorry)
Baby, I’m sorry (I’m not sorry)
Feeling inspired ’cause the tables have turned
Yeah, I’m on fire and I know that it burns

Sung by Demi Lovato, Rachel (may I call you that?) says this song gets her up in the morning — and I can see why. Women say “sorry” far too much — and we even do with our clothing, though it tends to come out more as regret.

Think back to your parents relationship with your clothing. Like Rachel, we all want approval from our parents.

It’s embedded in us; it’s a survival instinct. Ms. (do we still use Ms.?) Hollis says her need for praise shaped her life. To her, love was tied to success and it became something she strived for. I wonder what her parents considered successful clothing? Remind me to ask her.

I’m assuming your parents, probably your mum, dressed you when you were little. How they dressed you didn’t matter so much when you didn’t know what a coordinated outfit was, though as we grow older it can become a battle of wills. Wear this on picture day at school. You can’t leave the house looking like that. You look like a slut. Yes, that gets said too.

What positive attention did you get when you were a child based on your clothing. Oh, she’s adorable! She’s so cute. Baby Nike shoes. Negative associations? Hand me downs. Arguing to try and express a sense of who you were. Parents wanting you to fit in so you wouldn’t be bullied. Wanting you to be mini versions of themselves. To showcase you as a trophy. Or clueless, associating clothing with sexuality, gender, money, beliefs, culture, consumerism, the unimportant.

Your style started as soon as your parents decided what color to dress you in.

Is that still impacting you? Do you need to say “sorry, not sorry” to your ingrained childhood style lessons and break up?

Back to my new friend Rachel. Remember, I’m paraphrasing.

Every year she comes up with an annual theme for her life. What theme do you have for your wardrobe this year? Bold? Creative? Professional? True expression of your authentic self?

Tie it in with your overall vision, your mission statement, your message, and what you want to share with the world. Whatever is your intention for your year, get your wardrobe on board.

And if someone gives you grief, “girl, stop apologizing.”

You were made for more. Both Rachel and I agree about that, and that doesn’t necessarily mean more clothing.

I create clothing spending plans for my clients if they ask me to. For some, I gently divert cash designated for, say, shoes, towards putting money in the stock market or to invest in self-development courses. Your definition of more is only relevant to you.

Rachel says knew that she wanted to work with women all over the world. I feel exactly the same way — but I start with identifying your “inner closet.” She wants to empower women, and I feel exactly the same way, I plan on doing it by making one woman at a time (eventually, millions) feel amazing about how she looks and feels so that she can then make a ton of money and change the world.

RH says that it’s okay to start bad and get better. Sorry, not sorry.

She was specifically talking about her early social media days, which she generously lays bare if you scroll back far enough. She was an amateur and it showed. But she got better. So can your style. Your skills, your ability to become your own stylist quickly and easily.

We both agree (yes, I’ll jump on her bandwagon) that no matter what you’re attempting to do, it’s okay to start off badly and improve. When you first start trying to put outfits together yourself, there may be some hits and misses. You can get better. You will get better. With help. There are a ton of resources out there, from seeking out style icons to books, blogs, clothes-in-a-box, apps and real life people who can guide you on your personal style journey. Like me. Just saying.

Rachel reached out for help. She now has professional photographers, makeup artists, and hairdressers. If you want to look better, if you want a more cohesive wardrobe, if you want to dress in a way that truly represents you, follow a leader. Do what they did to get what they have.

Find somebody who dresses in a way that you think looks amazing and ask them how they did it. Read (or just look at the photos like I do) and fashion books. Or you can save yourself money, time, and energy, and find somebody that you feel drawn to work with, and get some style coaching. Hire for their energy, not their resume.

She wants all of us to play big. I couldn’t agree more. For her, growth equals happiness — that’s been true in my case. I want to be constantly learning for the rest of my life, it’s one of my core values. That includes listening deeply to every woman that I meet so that I can better be of service. I want a degree in each of my clients.

What do you want to learn about? What areas do you want to grow in?

Rachel came up with a hilarious analogy for blocking out time for yourself to get on with things that you want to do. She recommends pretending you have a non-negotiable lunch date with Chris Hemsworth. For you it might be someone else, for me it’s a toss up between Iris Apfel, Jason Momoa or Sheryl Sandberg. Block off time for learning how to present yourself better so you can get where you want to go.

And yes, you’re going to upset some people when you dress better.

Sorry, not sorry.

When you start to make changes in our life, you’re not always as available, and we don’t always cheer success as much as we should. Find friends who compliment you, not critique. So what if you’re spending a bit less time on school lunches or listening to a friend complain about a relationship and more on choosing what to wear so you can wow the world — It’s okay to inconvenience people. It’s not shallow, it’s self-care.

Spend a few hours browsing in a store, experimenting with clothing to see what you do and don’t like, while another member of your family watches your kids or while a virtual assistant takes over some of your tasks. Trust me, what you wear, no matter what your life situation, matters.

It’s okay to inconvenience sales people, too. It’s okay to go into a store and try on everything in the shop and not buy something. You are learning and growing, and you have every right to do that. Just be courteous and leave the changing room tidy. Hey, you can even leave a tip or a thank you note.

If you have plans to pick an outfit for your book cover or to find sexy work out gear, or a killer top to wear to a video call, or to put together an outfit that you can pitch for venture funding in or for a date, and somebody says to you, hey, would you mind doing such and such instead — don’t let them get between you and your clothing.

Sorry, not sorry.

Rachel says your dream should make you nervous. I find that very comforting because usually just before I go to bed, I’m convinced that I’m delusional and that my plans for my business are completely unrealistic. That old familiar impostor syndrome wields a big club.

Luckily, in the morning, when I’ve had a strong coffee, it all fades into the background and I’m convinced that I can easily achieve world domination while lying on a hammock. In a carefully chosen outfit, should I need to get out of the hammock and seize an opportunity.

If your new outfits don’t make you a little bit nervous, if you’re thinking, “oh, I’m not really sure whether I should wear this or not,” then yay! You’re headed in the right direction.

It’s OK to get a reality check — but ONLY from someone who has a life you want. There really are some outfits that may not convey the impression that you want to give. But be careful whose opinions you ask for. If the person you’re going to ask isn’t rocking their life, don’t you dare ask them what they think of your outfit combination.

Ms. Hollis writes down her ten dreams every day. She only works on one dream at a time, but she says it’s important to have ten dreams. How about ten outfits you know you look and feel amazing in? One for every dream.

She likes to plan her goals in reverse. I’ve done that and it works — imagine where you want to be and then ask yourself, what did I do the day before that to get there? Keep going until you clarify today’s action.

If you want to look and feel amazing speaking at TED, here’s today’s action — look at other speakers and see what they wore. Did it detract from their talk or enhance it?

And A-women to Rachel! She genuinely believes that there is not one woman in the world who doesn’t feel more confident when they think they look great. Hallelujah!

There’s a reference in her book to increasing income from your current clients as opposed to finding new ones.

In style terms, shop in your own closet first.

See what outfits you can make from what you already have in your wardrobe. Remember cost-per-wear, (ask me) use the pieces you already have and create new outfits with them before you go buy something new.

Thank you Rachel. You created an enjoyable read, and guess what. Sorry, not sorry — I’m totally unapologetic when I say your clothes matter. And so does the woman wearing them.

Aroha, Erin Keam The Happy Wardrobe.

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Erin Keam

Owner of The Happy Wardrobe, which helps women identify their unique Style Statement and impact the world via their closets, careers, businesses and life.