How to Fake It

How to fake it til you make it.

Although I am a terrible liar, a crappy actress, and a dreadful poker player, I do believe in the “fake it ’til you make it” philosophy. Or, as Neil Gaiman so eloquently rephrased it, “Pretend you’re good at it.” Especially as it applies to personal style. Life is tiring, difficult, and constantly in flux. Virtually no one will feel cheerful, energetic, and serene at all times, and if a lack of cheerfulness, energy, and serenity continues for an extended period, it becomes harder and harder to tap back into that positivity. Sometimes, you’ve gotta generate it yourself by any means necessary.

And dressing the part can help. A ton.

  • If you’ve fallen into a tee-shirts-and-jeans rut and are starting to feel sad and slovenly, start by dressing up on Tuesdays and Thursdays. If you find you feel better on those days, start adding more dressy days in until it becomes routine.
  • If lack of social interaction is dampening your spirits and cramping your personal style, make some excuses to go out! Start researching new restaurants or free events in your hometown, check out a new band or take the kids to a family-friendly theater event. Make everyone in attendance get dolled up to lend festivity to the occasion.
  • Along those same lines, throw a party or two. Yes, I know, parties are loads of work, but I’m not talking black-tie, here. Have two or three friends over for dinner, and tell them it’ll be “quasi-fancy.” Throw a Mad Men-themed party with your nearest and dearest. Or just invite over a newish acquaintance; Spending time with new friends tends to force us to dust off our manners and our sassiest duds.
  • Get organized. One of the primary reasons that women fall into stylistic ruts is lack of planning. Make a list of outfits you’d like to wear, from the clothing and shoes right down to the accessories. A pre-made list of outfits counteracts the dreaded Early Morning Apathy; Once you’ve got ’em planned, it’s easier to throw ’em on. Less thinking, more doing.
  • Force yourself to wear something sparkly, brightly colored, or sentimentally significant every day for a week. You will be AMAZED by how such items will impact your mood, and change your dressing trajectory.
  • Start an inspiration Pin board or binder. Find images of outfits, items, and color or garment combinations that appeal to you. Simply exposing yourself to photos of looks you love may rekindle your interest in dressing up.
  • Pair up. Find a style buddy who is feeling similarly sapped, and make a pact to cheer each other on. You can collaborate on themed dressing days, or just offer stylistic moral support in the form of feedback, compliments, and clothing and accessory swapping. Everything is easier when you’ve got a buddy.

The goal is to use these tricks to tide yourself over until that mojo starts working again. Your natural juices should start flowing again after a period of faking it.

“Should” being the key word. If your deep blue funk just keeps getting deeper and bluer, you might need to spend some time thinking about what’s going on internally, emotionally and personally. Do you really want to dress up, or just feel like you ought to? How are you feeling about your body? Your overall style? What do you wish you could change? What already HAS changed that might have caused you to downshift to constant casual? You may have an internal conflict that needs some TLC, and you may not even know what that conflict is. Contemplate, discuss with close friends, journal, reflect. See if you can’t find the root of the problem.

One of the roots that turns up after many such soul-searches is self-worth. In a world that often fails to reward us for our efforts – be they style-related, work-related, or personal – it can be hard to stay motivated. You wonder if you’re worth the effort, if maybe being invisible and innocuous is a better route since it sucks up less energy and generates less disappointment. And sometimes invisible feels best, which is valid and important – you are under no obligation to dress up or be traditionally pretty. Ever. But if you aren’t in a mental space where blending in is top priority but instead just feel stuck or sad or disappointed in yourself, I’m here to tell you that YOU are 100% worth the effort it takes to get glammed up, the effort it takes to show the world your inner glow, the effort it takes to keep on trying. You’re worth it. You’re awesome. And you deserve to look and feel awesome about yourself every single day.

So if this is an issue of self-worth, take it from me: YOU ARE WORTH IT.

And if you don’t believe me quite yet, try faking it a while. Chances are, it’ll all come back to you in time.

Image courtesy meddygarnet.

Originally posted 2011-04-11 06:18:10.

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31 Responses to “How to Fake It”

  1. Joy

    What excellent suggestions! I think that’s what’s so terrific about fashion blogging — it’s like a buddy system that you mention.

    Thank you for the encouraging words and advice!


  2. Pam @over50feeling40

    Something I did was force myself out of my comfort zone by trying on outfits that I normally did not wear. I would select, on purpose, items I saw in magazines and on other women that I thought I could never pull off. Some of my most fun times, have been standing in a dressing room and realizing WOW…this looks great and this is fun and I want to show this off!!! Once you push yourself a little, you can discover a whole new field of joy!

  3. AnaJan

    1. checked!
    2. checked!
    3. I make pancakes parties occasionally, but I think I should make them a routine
    4. checked!
    5. love the bright colors, so that’s checked too!
    6. I’d use some physical inspiration board. At the moments I’m storing my pics in one folder on my PC, but I tend to browse through them from time to time.
    7. I’d use a styling buddy…

    Well, that’s almost 6 out of 7, not bad, ha?

    Nice post, BTW 😉

  4. Cherry Woodburn

    Good points. I’m not feeling blue but still am dressing poorly because I’ve gained weight – the middle aged thicker waist look – and my pants don’t fit. Just not ready to buy new ones. Muu-mus sound better all the time in terms of comfort but I’d hate the look.

  5. Sylvia Windhurst

    Good advice overall – we all fall into ruts at times, wether it is in our dressing, socializing, professional or creative endeavors, and we have to take the initiative to get ourselves out of those ruts. Just a few small changes can make a world of difference – great article!

  6. Darlene

    Thanks for this can-do start to the week. You broke it into small steps that I can manage. I think you’re right about self-worth, and in my case it becomes, “Am I worth the TIME that this will take?” How we spend our time indicates what our priorities are, and based on the time I’m NOT spending getting dressed each day, I have definitely not made the way I look a priority.

  7. Loren

    Also I like the habit of dressing up a little for no real reason. Sometimes I like to try an outfit that I’m unsure about (or is a little out of my comfort zone) when I am walking the dog, (not with new heels or anything). But if I have something new that I am DYING to wear but can’t wear to work, or if there is a combo that I think looks good but it might not really, I put it on for our afternoon walk, or maybe with a new eyeshadow or lip color. This way I’m wearing it ‘out’ but rarely do I run into anyone that I know walking the dog so so it also removes the potential for me to embarrass myself in front of friends.

  8. Lacy

    I seriously feel like this post was written just for me! I never thought about “faking” my new style until I can own it. I LOVE this advice! I’m always thinking if I go somewhere wearing nice clothes, people are going to ask me why I’m all dressed up. But so what if they do? I actually saw a list of 50 cheap date ideas that said put on evening wear and go for a late night cup of coffee- pretend you are on your way home from a Gala. Doesn’t that sound like fun? Thanks for the article, Sal. 🙂

    PS. Maybe you could write an article titled “50 ways to answer the dreaded question- Why are you all dressed up?”. lol!

  9. Cosmic

    yet another excellent post from you, Sally(can’t thank-you and praise you enough for your blogging efforts:)!!!


  10. Bubu

    Great post and perfect timing! Definitely woke up with a case of “the Mondays” today – and threw on an old, not very inspired, stand-by outfit… add to that PMS pains and emotions, and cloudy skies, and I am not feeling at all fabulous at the moment, but this is definitely motivation to get back on the horse.

  11. Suburban Plumage

    I think this is one of my favorite posts here… I would add, for me, deciding the night before what I’m going to wear is huge. The few times recently that I’ve tried to figure it out in the morning, it’s been a big FAIL!

  12. Amy

    I’m a huge fan of Gretchen Rubin’s book “The Happiness Project” and one tip she gives is “Act the way you want to feel.” I think it’s really true that if you behave the way you’d like to feel, even when you’re crabby, it slowly starts to rub off on you.

    Also, yes to planning. Planning is the key to just about anything, in my opinion.

  13. Lisa Elliott Grose

    I think that today’s entry is far and away your best yet. I suffer from bi-polar depression and I’ve been in the crapalicious end of things for a while. Dressing the part, fake it ’til you make it, etc. are all serious pieces of advice from mental health care workers to patients with all sorts of mental afflictions. These words give you the legs to stand on until your legs have the strength to take their own tiny steps.

    Thank you so much for reminding me of lessons that I had forgotten. Thanks to you, I can take some important steps in my life that I’d been putting off.

    Best regards,

    Lisa Elliott Grose

    • Sal

      Lisa, I’m honored. So glad to hear this post brought you some inspiration and motivation, my dear!

  14. Mistie

    Thank you so much for being awesome and cultivating a group of awesome people around you. Every time you have a wonderful post, which inspires me, I know that if i read the comments I will be doubly inspired.

  15. Eliza

    The only thing I’d add is that when I’m in a rut, I also try to organize my accessories.I sort my stockings and scarves by color, detangle my jewelry, and swap around shoes to put less visible ones on display. I “stage” my clothes so that they look as apealing as I can make them when I open my closet door. Chances are good that in the process I’ll find something inspiring tucked away, and even if I don’t I’ll at least be hyper organized. I find that I’m very affected by my surroundings, so creating pockets of beauty and order in the midst of chaos really helps

  16. Corinne

    Very interesting and insightful post. i never cease to be amazed how easily i can navigate the rut. My uniform, yoga pants and a T. works really well for me but so lazy, so boring. Your ideas are great. I have been attempting to dress up every time I leave the house. So far, so good. I have been also noticing how generally sloppy some people are. Clothing is not clean, tattered, ill fitting. My favorite is the sans-undergarment look, not so good. I think that by presenting well, one may effect change. Your blog effected change in me, thanks.

  17. Cynthia @ Go Chic or Go Home

    Such a great post!!

    I remember in HS and college how finals week was generally the time most students came to school in PJs. I went in the opposite direction and made it a point to curl my hair and dress up. Feeling pulled together helped me sit a little straighter in my chair and be more focused. That carried over into my corporate life where I always dressed a notch above my position. Something about that just puts a spring in your step. Now…I sit at home in Ts and jeans working on a fashion company. Ah, the irony.

    Lately I’ve definitely noticed that I miss feeling pulled together. Working from home has tons of perks, but it’s so easy to get into a fashion funk and just feel kind of slothy. The other week I decided to break the style rut and put on a cute outfit for some errands. It was just a standard day of running around but I can honestly say that I had more of a spring in my step. You’ve inspired me to try doing this more often. Even though I’m not in a corporate setting it will be nice to sit a little straighter and feel more focused while I work. 🙂

  18. Sara

    My sister and I do the buddy thing even though we live several hours from each other. We each take our picture every morning and then email it to each other. It makes me think more about what I’m going to wear and make more of an effort to put together something cute. I work for a very small company where every one dresses very casual and no one cares about style or fashion. This way I feel like at least one person (besides my husband) notices what I’m wearing.

  19. Francesca

    wonderful items, really enyoy reading it, specially the frase ” less thinking more doing” I ll try to like that this week, “step by stpe one at a time. Greeting from Viña del Mar, Chile S.A.

  20. Ginny

    Just added an INSPIRATION folder to my bookmarks and put this post in there. :] I’m definitely in a jeans & t-shirt rut.. having a toddler + several extra pounds tends to do that to you! But I’m over it & I definitely miss looking & FEELING nice. Thanks for the tips! 😀