Dressing to Honor Your Body


There are so many ways to honor your physical form. Practicing yoga, enjoying your sexuality, eating mindfully and with great relish, honing your skills as an athlete, absorbing a wonderful massage. And, of course, voicing gratitude aloud or in writing is a fantastic way to show your body love and admiration.

But an often-overlooked way to pay tribute to your body is to dress it in a way that makes you feel amazing, strong, gorgeous, and unique. Or all of the above! As I’ve said many times, we must all dress on a daily basis, and doing so can feel mundane and even oppressive at times. But by viewing dressing as an act of praise, it becomes an easy, near-constant celebration of the body. By dressing to our strengths and favorite aspects, we do our bodies a small but powerful honor. By transforming the act of dressing into an act of love, we recapture and even expand upon that power.

The way you choose to honor your body through dressing will be totally unique. This concept doesn’t rely on traditional ideas of figure flattery or femme archetypes, doesn’t mean spike heels and red lips. Not to everyone. Dressing to honor your body can mean slipping on a silky caftan that makes you feel utterly goddess-like. It can mean wearing your favorite red bra under your sweatshirt as a fun little secret. It can mean taking a day off from stiff suits and constricting hose and relaxing into your favorite old jeans. It can mean wearing a favorite frock to work or class. It can mean making each outfit a riot of color. Whatever clothing makes you feel connected to and loving toward your body will do the trick.

The idea of the body as a temple has been around for ages, but too often the sentiment stops there. What is a temple for? Acts of praise and honor and reverence. If your body is a temple, consider honoring it. And if you’re looking for a new way to do that, consider dressing in a way that helps you to feel like your best self.

Images via Wardobe Oxygen (left) and Eek! (right), two of my longtime favorite bloggers who, I believe, dress to honor their bodies.

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19 Responses to “Dressing to Honor Your Body”

  1. Sally Meggs

    What a wonderful sentiment well said. It is sometimes hard to reconcile a love of fashion with honoring what is truly valuable in one’s life. You have hit the nail on the head! I plan to share your post with my daughter along with my “It is what is on the inside that counts” lesson. Thank you, from one Sally to another!

  2. Frenchie

    What a wonderful way to express how we dress–to “honour” our bodies. Well said.

    No matter our shape or size, we should respect our bodies and others’. Today’s view seems to be to judge (esp. women) on their size, their hair colour, amount of makeup. Men don’t seem to be so scrutinized.

    I’m approaching 50, and it’s taken me a long time to honour my body, but I’m getting there (finally).

  3. nestra

    Thanks for writing this blog! It has made me reconsider the way I think about myself and how I view others.

  4. Eleanorjane

    I’d love to! I’m struggling with lack of time, money and a base of clothes to work from.

    I am trying hard to only buy clothes that are 100% right so I don’t end up with a full wardrobe and nothing to wear. BUT this often involves trying on heaps of things and buying nothing. It’s a bit depressing.

  5. Lacey

    I love this idea! I think it might be something that I already do without being conscious of it. I always try to dress in things that either feel good on or make me feel really good about myself while I wear them. I find it makes a huge difference!

  6. Sarah

    I really like what you are saying in this post!! I feel like in the past ten years or so, being fashionable and stylish has become mandatory. Blame it on Stacey & Clinton and all the style blogs…I wish I was more fashionable, and I have tried to be creative with my clothes, but I am just a pants and shirt kind of girl. I don’t want to wear crazy layers, I feel like a clown when I color-block, and I am just never, ever going to be able to walk around in public wearing an orange dress and blue accessories, unless the orange dress has a blue pattern in it, and even then, I probably wouldn’t buy a blue and orange patterned dress. And skinny jeans? Please, I’ve been rocking the bootcut since the 90s and skinny jeans make my thighs look monstrous. I can’t walk in heels and I don’t want to walk in heels (even kitten-heel Aerosoles kill my feet!). I like scarves in the winter but I’m not wearing a scarf in June in Baltimore, and I only like very simple jewelry. It’s really hard to sit at a desk and type all day when my “arm candy” bangs against the keyboard nonstop! I feel like a doofus when I try to get creative and wear the stuff that is in style now, and I feel uncomfortable in my own skin whenever I do.

    But! This does not make me a bad person! It does not mean that I don’t care about my appearance! It does not mean I have low self-esteem or hate my body! It does not mean I am not as creative as you! It does not mean that I don’t value myself! It does not mean that I am lazy, sloppy, boring, or old! I really appreciate you saying that we all have different ways of honoring our bodies. When I look in the mirror before I leave for work, I am happy with the way I look. I may only be wearing a patterned top, black slacks, and simple earrings, but I feel good in my skin, I’m comfortable (god forbid!), and I like the way I look. And I always have on cute undies and a matching bra! My purse and shoes are quality but not showy or bright.

    When it comes down to it, you have to make yourself happy first. You have to be comfortable in your skin and in your clothes. Your value as a human is not determined by what I see when I look at you, and vice versa. Dressing to honor you body supports that, and that is one reason I keep reading your blog, Sal. I really think you get that, and that you understand that not everyone wants to look a certain way. So even when you are wearing trends that I would never, ever feel comfortable wearing, you don’t make me feel like less of a person because I’m different from you.

    • Linda

      ” When I look in the mirror before I leave for work, I am happy with the way I look”. This is really all that matters. Simple as that.

  7. Stacy @ Stacyverb

    “an easy, near-constant celebration of the body”– what a fantastic way to look at getting dressed (or exercising, or eating, etc.).

  8. Frenchie

    I think Sarah has misunderstood your message, Sally. I think you’re saying that we each have to find our “own way” to express ourselves, to be comfortable in our own clothes–whatever clothes those are.

    I think Sarah has found her “uniform” which happens to be different than mine (dresses and cardigans, add leggings in cold weather) but THAT”S OKAY!

    Sarah is honouring her feelings by wearing what she feels comfortable in, and so am I. You’ll never find me in skinny jeans (oxymoron on me) and pants are rare for me, too.

    • Sarah

      Actually I think that Sally is one of the few style bloggers who acknowledges that we each have to find our own way to express ourselves with clothing! I feel like a lot of what I read in fashion magazines and style blogs is really preachy and unattainable, or just not remotely close to anything I would ever wear in real life. I like looking at those outfits but my uniform is a lot more simple than that, and I’m okay with that. It just seems like there’s a lot of pressure to get this arty, avant-garde, over-accessorized style that is just not practical for me in my life.

  9. LG

    Love this! (Except…it makes me want to go shopping, lol)

    The idea of the body being a temple comes from the New Testament…1 Corinthians 6:19. Lately I’m coming to realize how much my body, mind and spirit are all connected, whereas in the past my mind would take over nonstop, or I would dismiss or scold my body. Now I’m enjoying my senses more and letting them draw me to God help me be more present in my days.

  10. reva

    I love the way you say to honor your body, instead of ‘hiding our flaws’. The perfect compliment to what we all do!

  11. Anne

    Thank you for this message. It is exactly what I need to hear. I have struggled all my life with a much less than perfect body (terrible skin due to DPT shot allergy, too much body hair, and 20 years of chronic pain). But you have captured exactly how clothes make me feel – absolutely marvelous! I can look at myself in the mirror and say, “You look adorable!” and really mean it.

    I have followed your blog for a year and and a half. I have paid lots of attention to all of your advice on style and how clothes make you feel. Somehow, I have overlooked much of what you have said about body image, thinking it didn’t apply to me because I couldn’t ever love this body.

    But as I have followed all your great tips and developed a wardrobe that I absolutely adore, it dawned on me when I read this post that indeed I have come to love my body. Thank you, Sally for giving me this great gift!

    • Sal

      Oh Anne, you are so very, very welcome, my dear! I’m thrilled to hear this.

  12. Dianne

    I love all your posts, since they make me think. I love this one, as I have mused about what I wear and how I tend to wear what makes me feel ‘right’. I am fortunate that my daily life allows me to wear (mostly) my ‘hippie/grunge/rocker” look of skinny jeans/casual skirts w/ boots or ballet flats, T-shirts and jean/army-jackets/vests/casual blazers, with metal (copper/brass/steel/silver) and antique or hand-made beaded/reconfigured necklaces/bracelets/earrings. All this at the age of almost 60. But I don’t feel much different than when I was 20, or 30 or 40 or 50. Just a little more confident in who I am and how I express it (although my current wardrobe compares quite closely to what I wore as a university student at age 20). Thank you for inspiring us to ‘be who we really are’.

  13. contrary kiwi

    This is a great post Sally and it goes a long way to address why I don’t read many fashion blogs any more. There’s a lot of pressure to abide by certain rules – which might be different to the ones given to us by girlie magazines, but are still rules. For example, I had no idea that you’re “not allowed” to pair brown with black until I started reading fashion blogs. Inconceivable! One of my favourite outfits is…composed entirely of black and brown.

    It’s often easy to forget that we should be dressing for ourselves. I once complained on Facebook about the number of people who decided my clothing choices were their business and said “my clothing is nobody’s business but my own”. I instantly got people objecting to that, telling me that others “deserve” me to dress nicely. Rubbish! People deserve me not attempting to offend them with my attire, but beyond that they can just close their eyes. I’m the one who has to be with my body day in and day out and I enjoy dressing to make ME think I look good, regardless of what other people think.