Are you embracing your style or hiding it?
My Favorite Virtue
“Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.”
It was like a fiery arrow to my teenage heart when I heard this quote by Maya Angelou, and I’ve never forgotten it. In fact, it began a life-long obsession with courage. I think about it often, especially as I read history and watch the courageous around me. Would I be brave in their place? Would I run into the fiery building? Would I stand up and say, “This is wrong,”?
Am I being brave in my life? What acts of courage, small and large can I take to be true to myself and all of my virtues?
It’s so easy to lose yourself, question yourself when everyone else is on the same path, having the same reaction, doing the same thing, and they are different than what you would do. We are programmed to conform, to belong. It’s in our DNA. For millennia, belonging meant survival, and being cast out of the village meant death.
Change Can Change Us
Stunning Style was born because I lost myself, my identity, and my style in motherhood. When I woke up and realized I hated how I looked and felt, I decided to find myself again. And now my passion is helping other women find themselves again through their style.
It happens to many of us, usually during a major life transition. For me it was becoming a mother and feeling like I had to be someone else. For others it could be a promotion at work, changing careers, becoming an empty-nester, death of a loved one.
Since we moved, I’ve shared with you that I’ve struggled with furnishing and decorating our home. This cross-country move hasn’t made me question my clothing style (though it probably would have if I didn’t have such a firm grasp of it), but it has made me question everything I know about my home style, which honestly wasn’t very defined before.
This is my dream home, hopefully our forever home, and I want it to be beautiful. The purchases we are making are investments in making this house a home. Because I work from home, I spend 90 percent of my time here, and I love walking through the rooms, seeing the beautiful architectural details, and I want to do it justice with the furnishings and décor, as well as reflect our style and make it a home we can live in.
After a mini meltdown, I was reminded by many of you to take my own advice, and a few weeks ago I shared the lessons my personal style taught me about my decorating style. Yesterday I had another aha moment that brought up another lesson.
Taking My Own Advice
One of the items I’ve been looking for since we moved into this house is rugs. The hardwood floors that cover the entire main floor were just refinished, and I want to protect them. Rugs also make the rooms feel cozy, help with the echo, and they define the spaces since our floor plan is so open.
There’s just one problem. The only rugs I’ve ever bought were for wiping your feet on and they came from Target. Area rugs are a whole new beast, and there is a lot to know about them, from style to construction.
The designer I’m working with is fabulous, and she has put together so many great ideas for me, really trying to help me get pieces we love and make this house our home. The store she works with has even let me bring different rugs home to try out in my space. Most of them have been perfect.
Because our living room is so large, finding a rug I like in the size I need has been a challenge. After talking through what I do and don’t like, they brought in a few rugs just for me, and the one they were most excited about came home for a trial run.
Can I Learn to Love it?
When I saw it in the store, I hated it instantly, but rugs look very different on your floor than they do hanging in a store, so I decided to try it.
As soon as I got home, I immediately unrolled it in my living room and put the two pieces of furniture we have for that space back. And…I still hated it.
But I kept hearing their words in my head,
“This rug is absolutely perfect for that space!”
“It’s one-of-a-kind, and we will never be able to get this exact rug again.”
“If you decide you don’t want it, three other people saw it here before you came in to get it today, and they all asked to be notified if you decide not to get it.”
“This is an heirloom rug you’ll be able to pass on to your children.”
“This rug is so special.”
“Rugs this size are really hard to come by.”
Their enthusiasm is contagious, and I WANTED to love it as much as they do! It’s special! One-of-a-kind! OTHER PEOPLE WANT IT! For a week I’ve walked back and forth past that room glancing in at it, sat on the couch and stared at it, circled it like carrion circling prey, hoping if I caught it at the right angle in the right light, I could see in it the same things everyone else sees in it. And…I can’t.
Whenever someone says, “It’ll grow on you,” my reply is always, “Like a fungus?” Sometimes we do need time to adjust to something new, but I’ve never loved the idea that with enough exposure, we will adapt to something we actually hate. And this is exactly what I was trying to do with this rug!
A Moment of Honesty…With Myself
So last night, after a conversation with my bestie, I got honest with myself, and sent our designer this text.
“The living room rug. Total honesty (as much with myself as with you). I don’t like it, and I really tried to. I certainly don’t like it $XXXX. I don’t even like it $200. If someone tried to give it to me, I’d say no.
And listening to all of you love it, and the list of other people who love it and want it if I pass it up makes me feel dumb and like I SHOULD like it.
I keep telling myself there must be something wrong with me because I don’t like it. I must have bad taste. I keep walking past that room and looking in and waiting for it to make me light up. And I just feel disappointed when I look at it. It’s very meh. I LOVE the ones in my office and my bedroom. I like the ones in the family room and basement a lot.
I really LOVED that blue one I brought home. I would pay $XXXX for that one if it were high quality and didn’t shed like a German shepherd. Gauche or not, this rug made my heart sing, and I was so so sad to take it back.”
“I want a rug like what I have in my office for the living room. No yellow undertones. I like these soft soothing colors, but I don’t like things that look faded. There is a difference. I keep trying to make that rug come into focus.”
“And the living room rug looks dirty to me. I want to clean it. I like some sheen. I like silver and white. A clear flax or linen color like these sofas is also nice. I do not like yellow or dirty beigey undertones. So that probably means 100% wool is not for me. And so, tomorrow I’ll roll it up and bring it back.”
What If I’m Jess?
Admitting to her that I don’t like that rug was hard! Sharing this with all of you is painful because I bet there are a lot of you out there shouting at the screen, “BUY THE RUG, APRIL! BUY THE RUG!!”
Admitting that insecurity was what was holding me back was brutal. Even more so was admitting to myself that for a week I lacked the courage to admit it, and had been tempted to spend a lot of money on something I knew I hated because I was afraid to say I didn’t like it and that I have terrible taste. Going against the village is hard.
Don’t get me wrong. This is all about me, not them. No one is bullying me. They truly love this rug and believe it’s perfect for the space and the design ideas they have. Most of which I love. This rug, I don’t love. The designer is working really hard to find things I like and help me.
It reminds me of that line in When Harry Met Sally and Marie and Jess are fighting about the wagon wheel coffee table. #imjess
Courage or Confidence?
While the courage to stand up and say, “I don’t like the rug that everyone else loves,” is not the kind of courage it takes to stand up and defend someone being bullied or protect someone who is being abused, it’s the small acts of courage that lead to the big acts of courage. Having the courage to stand up, stand out, and be yourself is how you have the courage to protect someone else. You can also call it having the confidence to be yourself.
So what do courage and rugs have to do with clothes? Everything. How many of us don’t wear what we love, wear what tells our style story, wear what makes us happy, wear what reflects who we really are because the courage to go against the crowd and the trends is going against our very DNA?
We are fighting against a survival mechanism that used to mean literal life or death, survival with the village or death alone. We want to belong, to be accepted, to be loved.
Not only that, but when everyone else loves something and you don’t, or you love what no one else seems to, it’s normal to question yourself and your taste. “I must be wrong. They all see something I can’t. Maybe I’M JESS AND THIS IS A WAGON WHEEL COFFEE TABLE!!”
Start Your Own Trend
Just like the courage it takes to be the first one to raise your hand and ask a question in a class brings a sigh of relief to everyone else who was pretending to understand, having the courage to wear what you love can give courage to those around you to wear what they love. Just like fear, rage, and anger can be contagious, so can courage.
How else will that courage start to show up in your life? What other ways will you begin to stand up for yourself and be seen, be heard, be you?
What message do you send to everyone around you when you wear what you love, regardless of the trends? As I’ve said many times before, you are a walking billboard, and your appearance sends a message to everyone around you.
Not only can your style represent what kind of person you are, but when your it’s unique to you, you are also sending a message of confidence, courage, self-worth, and individuality.
Fashion says, ‘Me, too,’ and style says, ‘Only me.” – Geraldine Stutz
After courage, the next biggest stumbling block to wearing what you love, is KNOWING what you love, and I have a free masterclass called 5 Steps to Find the Right Clothes for You that will get you started on that path.
It’s about an hour long and includes a free workbook so you can work through the steps at your own pace. You deserve this hour to find out more about what you love!