When building a wardrobe, it’s important to make sure you’re highly visible in it. By that I don’t necessarily mean bright colors or wildly dramatic cuts. Of course I’m hardly against either of these things, but right now I’m talking about something much, much subtler. What I mean is that your personality should be visible in your clothing choices. When you find something that makes you feel entirely yourself, that piece has power.
For one woman it might be a brightly colored wrap dress, for another a soft grey turtleneck, and for yet another a pair of amazing leather boots. You are the only one who can identify your power pieces. Whether the thing that makes you feel most like you is a pair of cat’s eye sunglasses, black lace, paisley, or linen trousers, you need to make room for it in your wardrobe. Don’t pick just any piece that fits the description, though. Shade, cut, proportion, comfort and construction still matter in these pieces. In fact, they may matter even more than usual because this is your calling card.
My calling card? Hats. It all started when I was fifteen with a visit to the Renaissance Faire. Yes, Ren Faire, Plummy. Deal. My mother whipped up an indigo blue Tudor flat cap for me to wear with the amazing early Elizabethan court gown she’d made me for a school play. I fell in love with the Faire, but even more I fell in love with that cap. I started wearing it everywhere. It was the perfect shade of blue to make my eyes sparkle and my skin glow. It was the perfect proportion to make my rather small head with the very flat straight hair look just a touch bigger. It kept my nose from burning when the sun came out, and kept the rain out of my eyes in stormy weather.
I wore it with everything, to every event. I wore it to school, to my job (I had a paper route and washed dishes at a Russian Orthodox Church), to rehearsals for school plays, to concerts, to the grocery store and the mall. It rapidly became a signature.
Eventually the hat died a sad death from overuse. I have mourned it ever since.
By that time, I was the Girl in the Hat. I did the only thing I could imagine: I got more hats. First was a Greek fisherman’s cap and my grandfather’s Homburg. They were both great, but only for casual wear. I picked up a gorgeous winter white beret with a spray of white feathers. By the time I was twenty, I had a collection of wonderful hats. I’d figured out what my best proportions, styles, and colors were. I knew what angles looked best on me and knew to avoid even trying anything too square or entirely brimless.
In short, I found something that spoke to who I was, learned the tricks that made it work on me, and made it my calling card. It’s so much my sartorial thing that there are people who have known me for as much as five years who have never seen me without a hat. When I recently got a dramatically different new haircut, there were friends who didn’t notice it for weeks because I had the hats on.
I have hats for formal and casual wear, hats for sun and hats for rain, subtle colors and bright ones, straw, fabric, felt, heavily ornamented and plain. Believe it or not, I’ve packed all that into less than a dozen hats, bought (and received as gifts) over the course of the last fifteen years or so.
The point of all this? When you find something that makes you feel the most you, it’s worth investing in it. Time, money, thought, and effort are all worth putting into these powerful pieces. In them, you feel good about yourself, and that can open surprising doors in life.