Flannel, suits and running skirts: Dressing for success

In college, I lived in my flannel shirt and jeans. I've kept the flannel, but ditched the chips.

Second semester freshman year, one of my professors had a radical idea. She suggested we dress for our news writing and reporting class like professionals. Let’s be honest: It would be a good day if I actually showered before class, let alone wore something other than my favorite oversized flannel shirt.┬áBut clearly, her position resonated with me, which is why I remember it so many years later.

Part of the importance of my athletic experience has been stepping into my own authenticity — discovering what is true for me and separating it from the “shoulds” established by voices of society (no matter how well-intentioned those voices may be). The lessons learned from sport translate to other areas of my life and this week, the concept of personal appearance caught my attention. As the question of “fashion” sat with me, what emerged was another opportunity to practice intentionality. What if I dressed with a purpose? What if I thought about how I wanted to feel that day and chose my clothes to help me create that feeling for myself, independent of how others might see me?

Perhaps I want to feel particularly productive and professional and go-getting. To me, that means business attire. What if I want to feel comfortable and relaxed with the ability to be productive online and around the house? Warm, stretchy, sporty gear it is. What if I want to make a workout feel fun? Running skirt! If I’m approaching a workout with a particularly serious tone? Traditional running shorts.

Of course, to create authenticity for myself requires me to give the same space and opportunity to other women. Would I wear the same thing as the woman sitting two rows away from me at the theater? Maybe not. But that’s a judgment in turn I’m making about myself, using an unsuspecting, bra-strap-showing fellow female as the conduit for my own insecurities.

Each day, each moment, I get to choose who I want to be. A dear friend recently described the important question in life as asking not what you want to do, but who you want to be. Because what you do will flow from who you are. The doing follows the being. Choosing what to wear? It’s part of the expression of the being. And I’m finding these days the more I approach even everyday choices with intention, the more I create the life experiences I’ve been craving.

Some days, those experiences are best created in a tailored shirt and skirt. Other days, oversized flannel is right on point.

Have you entered the inaugural giveaway from Byline to Finish Line? Describe how your athletic activity of choice helps to soothe your soul in the comment section of Monday’s post and be entered to win a copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul: Runners.

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