Personal Style | Comfort and Confidence in Your Clothing

a woman wearing a khaki green sweater and a peach floral skirt with a collage about confidence in your clothing

Continuing with my PERSONAL STYLE series, today’s post is about the importance of keeping comfort and confidence in mind, while you create your own unique wardrobe. Click here for Part One (about creating your own unique style description) and click here for Part Two (about using colour theory to create a signature colour palette). 

Dressing For Who You Are & How You Live 

As I’ve been thinking about personal style lately, I’ve been realizing the importance of not just liking a particular style, but also feeling comfortable in what you wear. By this, not only do I mean physical comfort, but mental comfort; or in other words, confidence in what you wear.

Finding comfort and confidence in your clothing can look completely different for each person. Once you have narrowed down your ideal style vision and filled a scrapbook full of beautiful editorial images, it’s not going to be of any help to you if you aren’t going to wear those sorts of garments in real life. You need to also keep in mind the physical comfort of an item and how you feel while wearing it…and what is comfortable for one person to wear, might be just a fantasy wardrobe for another. And while dreaming up your fantasy wardrobe can be fun, it’s not very useful for creating a closet that truly reflects your personal style on a daily basis. Figuring out the clothing styles that you like to wear, and that make you feel good, is an important part of creating your ideal wardrobe.

So what do I mean by considering the physical and mental comfort of an item? For example, consider an outfit of sweat pants and a t-shirt. While we would consider that to be a physically comfortable outfit, I personally would never wear that because it’s not mentally comfortable for me. It specifically makes me feel very conspicuous and un-confident, and so it turns out to be an uncomfortable outfit.

On the flip side, another example could be wearing a bold statement piece, such as a hat. I love hats and when I wear them, I feel more like myself so, for me, that is a comfortable outfit. And while a hat may not be physically uncomfortable, many people wouldn’t wear dream of wearing a hat because it would make them stand out from the crowd and for them that would be exactly the opposite of comfort for them.

a woman wearing a vintage 1960's style pillbox hat and a woman wearing a straw boater hat

When choosing clothes that you both look good and feel good in, you need to keep in mind both of these types of comfort. Here are some of the things I have helped me see not just what I like, but what I actually wear on a regular basis, and then making sure that the things I wear are also things I like– those two don’t necessarily go hand in hand!

One thing that has been helpful is determining my body type. I had never heard of the Kibbe or Style Essence body typing systems until I stumbled upon them last summer, and I found them to be a helpful tool while going through my closet. There are several different body typing systems out there, which all feature a spectrum of body types, and while I can’t really figure out which type I am for certain, it doesn’t really matter. None of us fall into exactly one “type”, so as long as you get a general idea, it can be helpful. Like seasonal colour theory, I would recommend that you take or leave whatever works for you, and use it as a good starting point.

I haven’t been professionally typed, but I did a quiz and found this website, Truth Is Beauty, to be the most helpful for me. I fall somewhere in the Classic/Soft type, with a more rounded and soft silhouette. This wasn’t “news” to me, but it still was helpful. While I’ve generally always known which pieces I liked on me for silhouette (mostly through trial and error) I actually found this kind of body typing to be incredibly positive and helpful for how to dress your best. Instead of focusing on your body as something that needs to be tweaked and molded into the “ideal shape”, these systems focus on each body type as having their own strengths and unique qualities. There are specific styles of clothing that suit each body type particularly, so (rather than trying to squeeze into one specific fashion trend, doubtless ending in frustration and feeling bad about yourself) wouldn’t it be better for us to all suit the clothing styles to our bodies, rather than the other way around?

katherine helpburn, audrey hepburn and sophia loren

For a Dramatic body type, for example, there are the straight, angular pieces such as blazers and tailored pants like Katherine Hepburn wore.

For a Gamine, you have the classic Audrey Hepburn cropped boyish look that always looks undeniably chic.

And for the Romantic body type you have the elegant and sensual Sophia Loren silhouette.

(There are more body types than this, so make sure to check out the links at the end of this post if you want to read more!)

When you realize that each body type has its own strengths, it is freeing to embrace the garments that particularly suit your own body shape and make you look fabulous, instead of trying to force yourself into garments that would look good on someone else. It is incredibly liberating to realize that just because something works on everyone else, doesn’t mean it will work on you…and you shouldn’t feel bad about yourself for that!

One of the particular examples that body typing made a difference for me was when I thought about plaid. I absolutely love plaid, but I don’t always like it once I put it on. I realized that, of course, putting a straight line on a curved body isn’t going to look as amazing as it would on a dramatic body type, but if I turn my plaid on the diagonal, it doesn’t feel like I have a line drawn around the widest part of my body (and the same goes for stripes).

Knowing which garments particularly suit your body type is a very helpful tool for building your wardrobe because you aren’t going to end up buying things that end up at the back of your closet. And when you wear clothes that suit you well, you are automatically going to feel more confident and comfortable. Of course this doesn’t mean you can’t wear things that fall outside of your body type; of course you can! At the end of the day, if I love something I am going to wear it. For example, both these coats are boxy swing coat styles and they are are two of my favourite vintage pieces. Even though this boxy shape isn’t a recommended silhouette for my body type, I absolutely love these coats and there is no way I’m going to stop wearing them.

a woman wearing a 1960's swing style coat

On the other hand, sometimes even when things do physically fit you and suit your body type, you might not feel amazing in them. Just because something looks great on you, doesn’t mean you have to like it and wear it. My Gramma told a story about how she once complimented a bank teller on her burgundy suit, and the lady said that she always got compliments on it, but she didn’t like it herself. Perhaps she couldn’t afford to replace her work clothes, but wouldn’t it have been nice if she could have gotten something that she looked nice in, but also felt confident in? Many of the pieces of clothing that I have gotten rid of over the past year have been pieces that just felt a little off for me in some way, and I didn’t feel confident in them for some reason. Once I came to the conclusion that it was OK to not like everything the way I thought I would, it was freeing to be able to pass those pieces on to others, and look forward to creating a wardrobe full of pieces that I do feel comfortable in and love to wear.

In your wardrobe, when you find those pieces that you love to wear, the ones that always make you feel like a million dollars, stop and take a moment to think about why you like them. For me one of those pieces would be my circle skirts. The silhouette is a good one for my body type, and it always makes me feel great.  Knowing that I like this silhouette of skirt helps me as I add pieces to my wardrobe, since I can narrow my search down to pieces that I already know are tried and true winners, rather than having to sift through everything I come across.

On the other hand, for those pieces that you don’t wear very often, why don’t you like wearing them?

As I’ve taken this closer look my closet and evaluated why I like some things, and don’t like others, another realization has been that I don’t like wearing anything too fussy. I don’t want to have to fuss and fidget with things, because then I am automatically not comfortable- I’m too busy wondering whether my shirt is coming untucked!

Or maybe some items don’t fit you the way you like, or there is something you wish you could change about it. Can it be altered to fit you better? One of the downsides of off-the-rack clothing is that it is not made for you specifically, and as a result many of us are walking around in ill fitting clothing. It’s amazing how something as simple as hemming a garment can make a huge difference in how it fits and how comfortable it is.

collage of different garments hanging from a peg rack to illustrate personal style

Also, don’t forget to take time to think about whether the items you have in your closet actually fit into your lifestyle. While I do have those fantasy pieces that I never wear but will still never part with, these pieces are not the majority of my wardrobe.

For everyday wear at home I prefer to wear more serviceable cotton rather than delicate fabrics (when I’m working, I don’t want to be worrying about whether my clothes will get ruined) but I still do like to look put together. The majority of my closet is full of simple skirts and tops (and my favourite harem pants!). They might not make regular appearances here on the blog, but I am wearing them most days, and they do still reflect my own personal style more than the aforementioned sweatpants!

When it comes to creating your dream wardrobe, you want to make sure that your closet is full of items that you find not only physically comfortable, but that you feel good in and excited to wear. Your wardrobe should be full of pieces that make you feel like yourself, and you want to make sure that you are wearing your clothing, not having it wear you. The great thing about fashion and personal style is that you are the one who gets to choose what finding that confidence in your clothing means for you!

Have you looked into the body typing before? Which Style Essence are you, and do you follow those guidelines in how you dress? And do you have any favourite pieces that reflect your personal style and give you a boost of confidence every time you wear them? 

You can read more about the Kibbe body typing system and the Style Essences system here.