Wear It, Live It: What Your Clothes Tell People About You

As a personal wardrobe stylist, I’m constantly fascinated to see what clothes reveal about the people wearing them. Sometimes their style is all over the place… some people seem to try very hard not to make a statement… while others have a “uniform” that defines their personal trademark. But always—always!—I find that people’s clothes make a very eloquent statement about the person I’m about to meet. Before we say a word to each other, I always make sure to listen to what their clothes are telling me.

That’s just what happened on the day I crossed paths at the Nashville Airport with Bobby Bones—beloved radio host, American Idol mentor, bestselling author, and Dancing With the Stars champion. Bobby absolutelyhas a uniform. By his own admission, he’s OCD and dresses in the same order of things nearly every day. His cool sneakers speak loudly for him (I imagine he has a huge closet filled entirely with cool sneakers). In fact, his Instagram feed has shown a version of that. And he loves his hoodies! He even did a roadshow called his Red Hoodie Comedy Tour. Red, as it turns out, is his favorite color: he’s color blind with dark colors, and only has 4% use of his right eye. This not only explains his signature glasses, but his preference for bright colors as well. As he explained to a caller on his radio show,

“I know that the color that I see as red is my favorite color… not to go all Socrates on you, but what I see as red you guys may see as green!”

The day I met him, Bobby Bones was in full uniform—red sneakers (what I see as red, anyway), matched with a red hoodie, matched with red Beats headphones. That color really speaks for him: even if you have no idea who he is, you would know that this person with his always funky glasses and very bold reds has a seriously cool story to tell.

Find Your Palette

Color theory was a huge part of my professional training, and I find your palette can speak loudly for you. Bobby Bones’ red sends a clear, powerful meaning—it’s passion, strength, leadership, courage, determination: all qualities that describe him well. By making it his trademark, he’s telling us how he sees himself in the world: his look speaks for him.

So often creativity is the child of necessity. You can’t think of Frida Kahlo without picturing the traditional Mexican clothes she wore, her wardrobe of full flowered skirts and bright blouses. So many people think of this as a statement of national identity, and it was—but it was also her way of distracting the eye from the polio that left her with a curved spine and withered leg. Her loose blouses were perfect for concealing a back brace or plaster cast, while the flowing skirts moved naturally as she walked, hiding her limp. As someone who’s lived with MS for many years, I am deeply inspired by her ingenuity and find myself adjusting my wardrobe for the sake of ease sometimes.

My mom’s longtime best friend (really an aunt to us all) is someone whose style speaks for her entirely. She’s an artist in New York and every time I visit her, I can’t wait to see what she’s wearing. It’s always fun, always fantastic—my creative friends who grew up in NYC only wish they were truly that bohemian. Simply to be around her in those clothes is exciting. Some people dress to look creative. Her wardrobe is a work of art.

Clothing doesn’t have to be colorful to be compelling. Steve Jobs’ black turtlenecks are the look of a person who is both serious and creative, in the world yet not entirely of it—as Yohji Yamamoto describes it, “black is modest and arrogant all at the same time.”

Bright or somber, cool or warm, your palette defines you. Find your swatchesa: find your style.

Live Your Inspiration

I may not dress as boldly as some of the people I’ve described, but I live my inspirations in my own way. All my life, I’ve gravitated to professions that combine creativity with social interaction, and that’s reflected in my looks. I don’t have a uniform—I dress for my mood and my surroundings—but I always add some little signature that’s entirely mine. Because I so often work from home or with a client, I tend to wear jeans with some kind of button-down most days. It keeps things approachable and it’s an easy way to dress down while still looking and feeling stylish. I’ll usually throw in a cool women’s sneaker or a bootie to remind me that I’m still styling, even if my husband and dog are the only ones who see me all day.

Don’t ever think you’re just dressing for other people. Even if you see no one all day, you still see yourself. You will feel and exude more confidence wearing something that makes you feel better. Live and dress yourinspiration and it will make YOU feel good all day.

Maybe you work in an office with a strict (if unspoken) dress code. Find something that speaks to you and foryou—a scarf, a pin, anything at all—and I promise you will begin to stand out, and feel more like yourself. On the other hand, maybe you’re surrounded by people who don’t care how they look (something that’s all too common in airports nowadays, Bobby Bones aside). You are under no obligation to follow suit. When I was little, my Mom used to dress us up in smock dresses to travel on an airplane. That simple act for so many years taught me when you are pulled together and have put thought into how you are getting dressed, it shows people you care. They start to take you more seriously because you’re more than just a slob in pajamas. It’s a statement on how to see you… and how to treat you. Because if you care then people will notice more.