Once you have picked yourself up off the floor, after losing your mate, it can be very helpful to your healing to re-evaluate your appearance. Whether that comes after a month in the after the loss, or a year or two doesn’t matter. Grief has no time table or fixed schedule. What healthy grieving does have, is a desire to rejoin the living and redesign and rebuild your new life. There are a variety of strategies that can help accomplish that. A fashion makeover is one of them.
In grief circles and among grievers, there is a lot of conversation lately about how the non-grieving world could do a much, much better job at helping the grieving in their pain. I’m one of them who has been beating that drum loudly. Yes, Americans can do so much better to comfort and assist their grieving family and friends, and learn to include us more and isolate us less.
That’s all true. What is also true is that as grievers, we carry some responsibility for our own recovery and healing. Passively watching the world go by without us is never going to restore our joy in any way, and isn’t that what healthy people want? To find a way to enjoy our lives again? Our plans with our mates didn’t work out as we expected, and life will never be the same again, but it can bring joy and contentment if you want it and are willing to work for it.
Dressing to be attractive is to dress to be approachable. It’s a signal to others, especially those that care about us, that we are ready to engage in life and be social again, even if we’re a little wobbly at first. Dressing to look “pulled together” is a good first step. In fact, looking “pulled together” is a nonverbal signal that we ARE becoming more pulled together, in our minds and in our hearts.
My career was spent in the corporate world in both real estate design and property management and sales. I met with customers and executives daily. I did my best work when I had my “game suit” on, meaning I felt like I was putting my best appearance foot forward. It was a confidence booster and a stress reducer. It wasn’t about other people so much as it was about feeling my best, as well.
Looking your best while grieving is a little like whistling in the dark. Whistling helps make us feel less afraid, dressing well helps us feel better, feel more confident. Suppose you run into your least favorite person in your community. Would you wish to look like your loss has utterly defeated you, or would you want to appear like you are up off the mat? I know what my choice is.
One of the best places to start is to re-evaluate your body type. With age, that can change. For example, I am tall and for many years, I was a rectangle, or “H” shaped, shoulders balanced with hips, without a well-defined waist. Long jackets and coats were flattering to me, and I could pull off shorter skirts with my long legs. While I can still wear long jackets, sweaters, and coats, my body has changed. With three distinct health challenges that make losing weight much more difficult, I am now a definite “apple” shape. Swing jackets and tunic tops, empire waists are good choices for me now. Forget those short skirts! Things changed. While I am now heavier than I was, I still can meet the world looking my best, my present best. I’m good with that.
If you are ready to update your look and aren’t sure what your body shape is, there are several good books available on the topic. Can’t tell for sure what type you are? Grab a savvy friend, a good friend who will be honest with you, put on some leggings and a tight-fitting top, get in front of a full-length mirror and I know you will figure it out. These books may help if you need it. Both are available on Amazon.com.
Once you are confident that you know your present body type, read further for the style advice the authors recommend and the shapes and styles they suggest for your shape. Get those best choices firmly fixed in your mind.
Next? Cull through your closet and pull out anything that aren’t those styles and lines. Get rid of them, or if you can’t bear to get rid of them, box them up and stick them in your attic or garage for now. Leave them there for several months and take another look at them. I’ll bet it will be easier to purge them the second go-round.
If you have something on that really doesn’t suit you, doesn’t suit your shape, you will never feel good in it. You’ll never feel confident and able to focus fully on people and activities that are around you. You’ll never be fully “in the moment” and that is a critical element of finding joy again, being in the moment.
Check out my Pinterest board, “Widows and Fashion for Who We Are Now” for more ideas and cues for dressing your age, current trends and body style. See it here https://www.pinterest.com/mhoct6462/widows-and-fashion-for-who-we-are-now/ You’ll find dozens of photos and article there that will help.
More now than ever, you need the things in your closet to make you feel great. Once you have rid your closet of things that don’t make you feel great, fill in any gaps with new clothes. It need not be expensive. For years I’ve not only shopped sales but consignment stores. Pro tip: Shop the consignment stores in upscale neighborhoods. Arm yourself with the lists and pictures of the styles you discovered in your research for your body type. Trying things on, especially when you are first starting, is a very good idea as you adjust to seeing yourself in a new perspective. Taking an objective friend is another good idea.
Go ahead, go re-invent yourself….I dare ‘ya…and then send me photos. I can’t wait to see the new you!
P.S.Watch for another article soon on Step Two
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