It’s been 5 months since I started the Dressing Your Truth 30-Day Challenge, and the change has been indescribable, but I’ll try. My exterior has definitely changed, but even more importantly, my interior has. I went from trying to hide, disappear and be invisible to reclaiming who I am. I was so often told that I should be different than who I am, so I stopped being me altogether and retreated within myself. Now I understand my strengths aren’t weaknesses, my gifts aren’t flaws, and who I am is perfectly me. I’m not allowing people to tell me I have to fit a mold. I’m proudly being exactly who I am.
I want to be clear that it isn’t a free pass to take those strengths and gifts and abuse people with them. Type four boldness can also be quite offensive when all filters are removed. Type three push energy that gets things done can also push people over and be overbearing. Type two deep feelings can become emotional extortion and abuse, and type one flightiness can become downright rude when they stand people up or are hours late because they lost track of time. Again. I can still be bold and be selective with my words. I’m not always successful in choosing the right words, but I do try, and that matters.
If you find yourself saying, “I can’t help it, I’m a type…” then that might be your clue that you need to reign it in and use some good, old-fashioned manners. In fact, you CAN help it. Sometimes extra honest words pop out of my mouth, if something catches me off-guard, but I work on filtering. I learned long ago that not everyone appreciates extreme honesty the way I do. If I ask your opinion, I truly want your honest opinion. Years ago I started prefacing my answer with, “Do you want my opinion, or do you want my approval, because I can give you either one.” It usually gets a laugh, and sometimes the answer of, “I want your approval.” To which I respond, “I think that’s a great idea. You should do it.” Obviously I wouldn’t give that answer to something illicit, illegal or immoral, but I can stand behind your choice to paint your car to look like Sponge Bob Squarepants. Absolutely. Do it. I call shotgun for the first cruise down Main Street.
Lessons I Learned During My Dressing Your Truth Journey
I now understand the conflict I experienced my whole life between my type 4 primary and my type 3 secondary. Fire and ice in the same body. I couldn’t reconcile the extremes. Now I can. I understand that my secondary 3 push to get things done makes me extremely efficient and effective, but I can’t allow it to take over or I will run myself into the ground. I need down time each day. I need alone time each day. That is how I recharge my type 4 self. Sometimes interaction with people recharges me, but that is the exception, and it recharges my secondary 3. I understand my drive and perfectionism isn’t the same for others, and that I can’t expect them to perform to my standards or intensity, and sometimes I can’t either or my body will pay the price.
I’ve learned that I can dress to channel the energy I need for the days’ activities. If I know I have a hard day coming, or the day after a hard day, I can wear black to soothe, ground and center myself, and it doesn’t matter if anyone else thinks it’s too dark. I can dress in brighter colors to seem more approachable and open, like when I volunteer in my daughter’s kindergarten class each week. Sometimes I will choose a bright color to channel more energy or a brighter mood, and sometimes I will dress more fiercely with extra secondary 3 elements if I need some extra feistiness or push.
I’ve learned that the style choices that work for one type 4, or even 4 million type fours may not work for me, and that is why this journey is unique to each of us. My type 4 style works for me, and won’t work for others. It is very personal. I still find inspiration in the outfits of others, like a color combination, but there is no one I’ve met whose style I could copy and feel like it was me, and that is a good thing.
I find it interesting that I’ve come full circle to my style. About 5 months before I discovered DYT I wanted to experiment with a capsule wardrobe, and I filled out a style finder profile to help me find what was right for me and narrow down my wardrobe. I found it the other day, and the words I listed were: Preppy/classic, classy, cool/chic, unique, feminine, natural/effortless, polished, European, comfortable, tailored, refined. That defines exactly where I have found myself now. I knew who I was, I just didn’t know how to get the details right, and now I do. The trouble I had before is I was doing all those things, but in the wrong colors. I had to swing really wide during my challenge and fall into the secondary 1 trap, get mad that I got it wrong and jump straight into the extreme secondary 3 pit, clear my head, realign my focus and climb up onto the type 4 platform.
This brings me to another thing I’ve learned. My primary energy type is my PRIMARY. It comes first, always. Incorporating my secondary 3, which is a very, very strong secondary, is still just that: secondary. And often subtle. It might be extra texture in a sweater, or my hair, some pointy shapes on a shirt, or earrings that could definitely put an eye out.
I recently went for a check-up, and my doctor walked in and said, “Whoa! You look fantastic. I love this new look. Are you going to get a Harley now?” He was referring to my moto jacket. I said, “Maybe. I’m finally dressing so that my exterior matches my interior.” He said, “Oh, so this is how you feel?” and I responded, “No. This is who I am.”
If you want to read more about the inner changes and things I discovered about myself, the 30-day challenge posts give more detail.
So here I am before my Dressing Your Truth transformation:
This is me trying to soften myself, trying to disappear and be invisible. I’m wearing a type 1 color cardigan with a type 2 color t-shirt, type three necklace and makeup and type 4 jeans, but all in a type 4 cut. I didn’t discriminate, did I? Did I look fine? I did. But I didn’t look stunning like a type 4. I also didn’t feel fine. I felt conflicted all the time, and I was hiding. Makeup experts will tell you that brown eyeshadow makes blue eyes bluer, but as a type 4, black eyeshadow and eyeliner make my eyes bluer and my face clearer and brighter.
And after. I actually left my head on this picture because my hair was a big transformation, as well as my makeup. This is a very classic type 4/3 outfit. Type 4 elements: colors are bold hues, bold color blocking on the sweater, tailored, fitted, straight clothing lines (that doesn’t have to mean tight, but not loose and baggy, dangly, drapey, bulky, swingy, swirly, slouchy, swishy, bouncy, etc. There is plenty of room in between). Secondary 3 elements: the texture of my boots is pebbled instead of smooth and shiny, there are studs on my belt, the zippers on my jacket, and my hair. My hair is my everyday secondary 3 accessory. The blue stripe is actually a bold type four element, but the textured, edgy cut is secondary 3. Typical type four hair would be smooth, straight, clean lines. Think sleek a-line haircut as an example.
Type 4s get stereotyped as wearing all black or black and white or black and red, so I experimented with something different. This is a very different bold type 4 outfit. Color blocking with 2 (3 when I had my coat on) bold hues. The flats are reflective, shiny silver and have pointy toes. The lines of the clothes are tailored and have no movement (meaning nothing is swinging or draping, etc.). The only secondary 3 is the texture of my hair. Yes I really wore the coat. I briefly considered grabbing my black one, and decided to just embrace the bold and go all the way. I received so many compliments on my style from strangers and acquaintances alike who, “wish [they] could pull this off”. That is one more lesson I learned. There can be a difference between getting a compliment on your style and your outfit. Sometimes it means the outfit is wearing you, and sometimes it means the person doesn’t know that vocabulary. I tend to specifically hear people love my style now, where before I heard more that they liked my outfit, my shoes, my necklace, etc.
I’ve gotta tell you, there have been many, many people in my real life who didn’t recognize me for a while. I have a neighbor who, granted, may not even know my first name, but I’m friends with his wife. I talked to him on three separate occasions, and I could tell you that he had no clue who I was. I thought it was hilarious. He knew he should know who I am by the familiar way I addressed him, but he couldn’t place me.
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Disclaimer: When you click through my link, I receive a small credit in the Dressing Your Truth store if you choose to sign up for the full course. I’m not a fashion blogger or a Dressing Your Truth expert. I’m just finding my way.