Is Your Style Stopping You?

Is your style stopping you?

An opportunity to visit New York in a few months means I’m not heading back to Paris until April next year. But the long lead time doesn’t mean I’m not in full on Paris planning mode.

I love how there is always something to do in Paris, no matter how many times you have visited.

One thing I will definitely be doing on my next trip is following the advice of Jo from frugal first class travel and enjoying afternoon tea at the Ritz. If I could have booked my table as soon as I’d finished reading Jo’s post I would have.

But I’ve got to tell you, once upon a time I would never have considered setting foot in the Paris Ritz. Not because I had no interest in the famous establishment. Truth be told, I’ve wanted to visit for as long as I can remember.

No, the reason I would not have wandered into the Ritz – or any of the other fancy Parisian destinations for that matter – was that I didn’t think I was good enough. And specifically, I wouldn’t have been dressed well enough to not raise eyebrows.

Now let’s be clear here. I’ve always had some great clothes. And certainly some Ritz worthy outfits. But I’ve also had the voice in my head. The one that whispered that I looked frumpy, even when I was wearing something expensive or that had been chosen especially for a particular occasion. The same voice that snarkily pointed out how classy everyone else looked – and how ‘ordinary by comparison’ I was.

Yes. That murmuring in my mind not only stopped me from living out some of my desires but it also diminished the enjoyment of some of the things that I actually wrangled up the courage to do. Let’s face it. There is nothing worse than arriving anywhere and then spending all your time thinking about your clothes and that you don’t look good enough.

Over time, I’ve worked hard to remedy my thinking. I’ve focussed on both my style itself and my style mindset. And I’m very pleased to share that I no longer hold myself back from anything simply because I don’t think I look the part. And the confidence that I now have when it comes to style has spread to other areas of my life.

Is Your Style Stopping You?

Your style – and your associated thoughts about how you look – could be holding you back in more areas of your life than you realise. Apart from the kind of scenarios I’ve outlined above, you might also be limiting yourself from:

  • Going for a new job, starting a new hobby or travelling somewhere special;
  • Dating someone new or making new friends;
  • Wearing clothes you love because you are over a certain age or because you don’t feel good about your body.

It’s always worth digging into any resistance you feel about ‘putting yourself out there’ to understand whether it is your style stopping you.

Build Your Confidence

If you do discover that your thoughts around your style are creating barriers between you and your desires, here are a couple of quick tips that can help you overcome the challenge and build confidence in how you present yourself to the world.

  1. Spend some time developing some ‘go to’ outfits. Putting in the effort to wear clothing that you love and that you have especially chosen because they complement your style personality, your silhouette and your colouring builds confidence and takes away any feelings of ‘I should have tried harder’.
  2. Invest in some classic pieces over time. Having classics that you can turn to consistently gives you a strong foundation to build your outfits upon. And they can save you money in the long run. So often we think we need to buy something new to feel good at a particular event. But it’s just as likely that we will fall for purchasing something that isn’t right for us, and end up feeling worse because we’ve also wasted our hard earned cash.
  3. Do some work on your mindset. Remembering that life is short and that there are enough obstacles in our lives without us letting our clothes slow us down is sometimes all that’s needed to silence those pesky voices.

Is your style stopping you at moment? Are there things that you’d dearly love to do that you’ve held yourself back from because of style? Or has style never been a barrier for you. Regardless of your answer, I’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

And until next time – au revoir.


P.S. If you are thinking you could do with some additional style support to ensure you don’t miss out on any of the good stuff life has on offer, make sure you check out the new opportunities to work with me.


Photo Credit: Haute Chocolate

About Janelle

I believe that everyone can bring French elegance and inspiration to their life, no matter where they happen to live in the world. They only need to learn a secret or two to be on their way. When you join the Distant Francophile community, you’ll have access to the secrets that allow you to bring the best of the French lifestyle into your everyday life. I’m talking about things like style advice, recipes and book reviews. And you’ll also receive regular doses of French inspiration, as well as travel and packing tips galore.

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10 thoughts on “Is Your Style Stopping You?

  • Taste of France

    Honestly, people dress so casually everywhere now that it’s easier to “pass” in a place where you might not have dared enter years ago. Clean jeans or pants, with a classic shirt and clean shoes (be careful of athletic shoes because some establishments still forbid them) can be appropriate in many places. The fanciest/most expensive clothes can look cheap and trashy if they are ill-fitting and not accompanied by good grooming.

    • Janelle Post author

      You make a couple of great points here Catherine around the proliferation of ‘casual’ dressing and the fact that fancy/expensive doesn’t always equal ‘well dressed’. Both have changed the game – certainly since the days when even everyday dressing was more elegant! The only thing I’d add here is that sometimes knowing you can get away with dressing more casually doesn’t always make you feel better, particularly if your own expectations were of something more dressy.

  • Alisa

    Perfect timing for this post! Yesterday I almost cancelled dinner with a friend in Paris because I had brought nothing ‘nice’ to wear that suited the unseasonable, unpredictable, damp, chilly weather. I went shopping early in the day and bought something I almost instantly regretted and will return tomorrow.
    Ultimately, I just stared into my wardrobe and just willed myself to make it work. And as you have been saying, classic pieces won’t let you down. I was able to pull off an acceptable dinner look and felt great about it – and dinner was delicious, and satisfying in more ways than one!

    • Janelle Post author

      Hi Alisa. The story you shared perfectly illustrates how easily we can limit ourselves due to our wardrobe. And I’m so glad to hear that both will and some classic pieces saved the day. It would have been dreadful for you to miss out on a delicious dinner with a friend in an amazing city due to wardrobe concerns.

  • Lauren

    Janelle, this is a wonderful post! I’ve definitely been working on building up my go to classics so that I can get dressed with ease, feel the confidence I want to feel, and have more mental space to commit to the passions I am pursuing. 🙂


    • Janelle Post author

      Thanks so much for your comment Lauren. You’ve articulated the idea of ‘mental space’ way better than I did in the post. That aside, the peace that comes from not worrying about what you are wearing can’t be underestimated.

  • Wendy

    My friend and I stood outside the Ritz in Paris and didn’t have the nerve to enter for afternoon tea for all the reasons you listed. Thank for this post. I am going to print it out and read it daily until it sinks in.

    For some reason we had no issues with tea at the Ritz in Montreal a couple of years before that.

    • Janelle Post author

      Hi Wendy – So lovely to hear from you. Thank you so much for your feedback on the post. Your comment really brings home how much our mindset can impact us. Some places are just very intimidating -which requires us to take extra care. I really hope you get back to the Paris Ritz one day and that you love your afternoon tea.

  • Kristien

    If you are truly comfortable with your style, what is holding you back? Do you feel that you must look absolutely “French”? I admire French style and love to emulate their esthetic. However, if I am happy with my appearance, I can go wherever with confidence. Did you ever consider that someone may be looking at you and admiring your American sense of style? We have so much to share with each other.

    • Janelle Post author

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts Kristien – I love your perspective on women sharing their style. I agree that we can all learn from each other – and likely admire each other. In answer to your questions, no, I don’t feel I have to look French – either in France or here in Australia. Happily, I’m no longer held back by my style concerns – like you, I’m able to go most places with confidence. But I’m being honest, that position took time for me to achieve – hence the story I shared in the post.