About the Author: Sarah is a long time member of the Dappered team, typically working behind the scenes editing posts, taking some photos, and keeping the books in good standing. She is also a certified health coach and life coach, and is passionate about helping people see that they don’t have to live by the negative stories in their minds. Occasionally she’ll come out from behind the curtain to offer her two cents.
Mindfulness is everywhere these days. Books, apps, etc. And it can feel a little overwhelming. But it’s really not that different from dressing well. Seriously. Both dressing well and mindfulness require the same thing: awareness. If you pay attention to your style? Then you’re already ahead of the game. Here’s why.
Most of us weren’t taught to live in awareness. At least not up to this point. Your brain likes efficiency, so relying on what’s easy and familiar provides the path of least resistance. And if in the past for you that was ill fitting denim and baggy tee shirts, you were just doing what was comfortable. And if it meant following the same thought patterns, day in and day out, without really opening your eyes to what was around you, you are not alone. That’s what the majority does. But intentionally implementing mindfulness into your life will not only effect how you think, but will carry over into how you present yourself to the world, including how you dress. Here are seven ways that the practice of mindfulness is just like dressing well.
#1 Practice makes perfect.
Dressing well: When leveling up your style game, it takes some dedication to seek out and try on clothes to figure out what brands fit your body well. It takes dressing in different combinations, and perhaps colors and patterns, to determine what resonates with your intuitive style. And it takes overcoming the fear of judgment when going out in public with your new look. The more you do these things, the more dressing well becomes an effortless habit.
Mindfulness: The same can be said for mindfulness. In fact, making the conscious decision to dress better is a practice in mindfulness. It takes you out of the habit you were in, and challenges you to be present in the moment, making choices with intention. When it comes to mindfulness, one of the best ways to develop this habit is through meditation, which as anyone knows that has tried it, takes daily practice. But with plenty of practice, meditation and mindfulness allows you to dress your mind well. Like the Doc Martens you purchased back in the mid 90’s (am I aging myself here?) that are no longer relevant to the person you are today, the same can be said of old habits. Mindfulness will make you aware of those old habits, and allow you to set the intention for new ones.
#2 People are often intimidated at the start.
Dressing well: Intimidation happens because of confusion. When you decide you want to start dressing well, but have never done it before, there’s no direct path for your brain to follow on how to do it. And more often than not, you’ll hop on the good ol’ interwebs for direction, and stumble across a site like the very one you’re reading right now. As you poke around, you’ll start to develop a little bit of courage, saying to yourself “Those traveler denim pants might just look good on me!”
Mindfulness: As you start a meditation practice, the same thing will happen. There is no clear path as to how this woo woo bullsh*t is going to do anything at all for your brain. But you’ve heard good things. You’ve seen commercials on TV for the Calm app. You read something about Nike partnering with Headspace. And you heard an episode of The Art of Manliness podcast with news anchor Dan Harris, and how meditation changed his life. You do a little research, and you’re (skeptically) willing to give it a go.
#3 Once you start, all of the doors open.
Dressing well: And then the magic starts to happen. Yes, people look at you differently, but more important than that, YOU look at yourself differently. Getting dressed makes you feel more ready to face the world, rather than hide from it. You get all kinds of glances, from attraction to envy. People pay attention to you. You often get compliments. You show up differently to work, to social gatherings, just walking down the sidewalk.
Mindfulness: And if you’re mindful on top of all that? Shit, you might as well get ready to chase after that thing you’ve always wanted. When you start to think intentionally, and recognize all the thoughts that have been holding you back, you’ll experience magical changes in your life. Fear will still be walking through that door with you, but as a companion, and not the boogie man you’ve been running from your entire past. People will notice; your confidence, your calmness, your reasoning. They’ll come to you for advice, because they know it will be thoughtful. This is what leaders are made of.
#4 You learn to know what fits you.
Dressing well: When you start dressing better, you recognize the value of a good fit. At the beginning, you might get so excited about your new found style that you jump at sales (with regrettable results). But with some time, you start to realize what a good fit looks like on your body, and you don’t waste money on impulse purchases.
Mindfulness: In the same vein, mindfulness helps you find the thoughts that fit you. When you step outside of your automatic thinking, and start to recognize those ill-fitting thoughts that serve no purpose other than filling in the gaps, you start to recognize that they just don’t fit anymore. They don’t fit with your self image. They don’t fit within the context of the person you want to be. They lead to behavior that you no longer want to act out. And in the recognition, you can learn what thoughts fit the person you have become, and are becoming.
#5 You let go of the past.
Dressing well: Baggy cargo pants. Hypercolor tee shirts. Acid wash denim. Shoulder pads. We all have a checkered style past. But when we were in it, it wasn’t checkered at all. It was based on the trends of the day, and it served its purpose. But, we’ve moved on. Sure, these trends try to sneak back in here and there, and can even see the light of day for a period of time, but eventually, as with all trends, they once again go the way of baggy flannel shirts and overalls with only one strap hooked. And we’re ok with that.
Mindfulness: Old thoughts can be like trends. They served their purpose during a time of need, but continuously utilizing them after the need has gone is like stepping back into a different decade. (Kind of like watching Napoleon Dynamite). Through mindfulness you recognize that you’re just hanging on for the sake of hanging on, and you learn to let go.
#6 You don’t settle.
Dressing well: Stepping into the role of a well dressed person starts to change the smaller things. At first it might be the aforementioned sale items. You just don’t buy crap to buy crap anymore. Then you might start really paying attention to the quality of build and fabrics. You may no longer purchase a certain brand, after their product has failed you far too quickly in the past, even if their prices are “really good”.
Mindfulness: Mindfulness works in the same way. As your awareness increases, you start to recognize those thoughts that aren’t getting the job done for you any longer. You start to see which behaviors are the weak seams, the cheap soles. You no longer simply react. You buy your clothes intentionally. You think your thoughts intentionally. You rise to the standards you’ve set for yourself, and only occasionally fall back, which serves as a reminder why you don’t settle anymore.
#7 You level up.
Dressing well: The act of dressing well bumps you up a level in life. As mentioned before, you show up differently in the world. With the sense of confidence it can bring, you start to identify as a more confident person. Embracing this confidence, you ask for the things you want more often. You look people in the eye. You start to play the part of someone that has an idea of the direction they are going in.
Mindfulness: Mindfulness starts the process of cleaning up your thinking. And in clearing out some junk, your thoughts level up. You actually learn how to think better. The task is no longer just on autopilot. You question, you ponder, you philosophize, you mature your thinking. And through this, you become an intentional thinker, with an impeccable sense of style.
For more on brain health and body health, visit Sarah’s site at braincleanupcoach.com, or check out her Instagram page. Items shown above in this post, in case you’re interested, are as follows: Suit: Custom, by Black Lapel – $499, Shirt: Ledbury Fine Twill Mid Spread Collar – $145, Socks: Nordstrom Over the Calf Merino Blend – $14.50, Shoes: Allen Edmonds Mackenzie in Dark Brown Burnished – $317 ($425), Sportcoat: Bonobos Unconstructed Italian Wool Sportcoat – $320 w/ ECLIPSE20 ($400), Sportcoat: GAP Moleskin Sportcoat (sold out), Trousers: Lands’ End Tailored Fit Light Charcoal Year-rounder Wool Dress Pants – $53.40 when 40% off, White Dress Shirt: Nordstrom Smartcare Dress Shirt – $49.50, Watch: Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean – Way Too Expensive.