# 10 Item Wardrobe # Dressing well

Dressing Up Daily: Dealing with Attention

You wake up. It's Wednesday morning. You don't have anything particularly special on the calendar today, just the usual: school run, work, house duties, errands and school pick-up. But something has recently changed and you have decided that instead of wearing your sweat suit or exercise clothes, you are going to wear a dress today. You pick one from your ten-item wardrobe (that you are still getting used to!) and put it on, even though it feels counterintuitive to what you would normally wear for a day with "nothing special" planned. You do a quick 5-minute le no makeup look and brush your hair. Before you can change your mind and change your outfit, you step out the door to start your day. You feel different. Even rebellious. You feel brave for dressing up as you pass person after person in sloppy attire on the street. This outfit has given you the proverbial spring in your step. And then, you stop and talk to an acquaintance.

"Ooohhh someone looks fancy! Where are you going?"

and another one...

"Wow! I love your dress. What are you doing after this?"

and another one...

"Look at you!"

Has this ever happened to you before?

I often get letters about this very subject. My most recent letter was from a woman who said she was inspired to dress up after reading the Madame Chic books but because of the unwanted attention she received regrettably would go back to her old way of dressing.

I completely understand not wanting the spotlight on you and feeling uncomfortable with all of the questions from people asking why you are "dressed up".

Here is where it is wise to pause. It's important to analyze why you feel uncomfortable with the attention and compliments and address that issue.

It is also a good idea to analyze the fashion trends in society and to realize that you are not "dressing up", you are merely dressing with the standards of care in your appearance that most people don't care about anymore. Most people today dress really sloppily. These sloppy dressers are the ones who have changed, not you. You are merely dressing with dignity and choosing to look presentable as people have done for centuries.

Check out this week's video to hear my thoughts on dealing with the attention that comes from dressing up daily. If you are unable to see the video above, click here, look in the sidebar of this blog, or visit my channel: www.youtube.com/TheDailyConnoisseur

I will be appearing on Nippon Television's The Most Useful School in the World, Saturday, May 23rd at 7pm in Japan.

Japanese readers, check out my interview with Yomiyuri Online.

Madame Chic Inspiring Thought
Choose one day this week and put extra thought into how you present yourself, even if you have nothing special planned. Notice how it feels to go about your usual business beautifully dressed. If you feel uncomfortable, or as though you are standing out from the crowd, analyze those feelings and push through the resistance you feel.

Comment of the Week
Thank you for all of your comments on last week's post, Receive Guests Properly. There were too many great comments to choose for comment of the week so I will do another follow-up post to highlight this topic again.

I did love this success story from Lmi747 on YouTube:

In my early twenties a dear friend invited me and another coworker to her home. She prepared each of us cornish game hen a beautiful salad and cake with strawberries and coffee. Its been over 20 years ago but I learned so much from her and I always think of her as the "hostess with the mostest!" Love your channel :)

What a special memory... I love that you can carry this experience with you to this day and that it inspires you!

This week I would love to know... have you experienced attention from dressing well? How do you deal with it? What are your thoughts on the subject? Let me know in the comment section and you could be picked as the comment of the week!

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Amy said...

Hi Jennifer,
Thank you so much for this video. I actually encountered this situation recently when I decided to wear a dress to work one day (I work at a bookstore). I have always dressed nice but usually in dress pants with a nice top.
Even though I am in my early thirties, I am currently living with my parents to try and finish paying off my school loans. The day I wore the dress, before I even left the house, my mom said I looked "too fancy" and she suggested I actually go change my outfit. I stayed determined, and I did not change my outfit. Then as I arrived at work I was extremely self conscious about how I looked. But as I arrived and saw my good friend and coworker Matt, he very warmly and kindly said how nice I looked and it made me feel good, and a little less self conscious. After that almost every coworker made a comment on how I was dressed. Thankfully most of them were very kind in their compliments. But I did have a lot of attention that day. But I felt almost as if I had to dress well the next day too. Just so it wouldn't seem out of place that I decided to dress up that first day. So I did wear a nice dress the next day too. But this time I only received a few comments, much less than the first day. I also felt more confident and comfortable the second day as well.
So my advice to other women would be just to push through those first few days. Once everyone gets used to seeing you dressed nicely, it will just be normal and you most likely won't receive anymore unwanted attention.
Thanks again for the video, it is nice to know I haven't been the only one to experience this. As always I love your videos they bring such a unique and refreshing view of life that is hard to find these days!

Lori said...

Hi Jennifer,
I'm a regular follower but this post resonated with me so I decided to comment today. This is something I've always dealt with in regards to how I dress. I work in an office with three other women and on any given day I'm the one who is always dressed appropriately. Although I am dressed appropriately I am what most would consider "dressed up" even in slacks, even on our casual Fridays when allowed to wear jeans. My casual Friday attire is still an outfit with jewelry or a scarf and a shoe with heels. I still look "put together" and I think this is where most people fail. I was having a conversation with my supervisor recently regarding the poor dress within our agency. My observation is that while the employees may dress within the boundaries of "business casual" they still have a sloppy look about them because everyone these days just wants to be "comfortable". I am amazed that people can feel so "comfortable" leaving the house looking so sloppy. I tell my son constantly "you only have one chance to make a first impression" and you never know who you might meet and later regret not have presented yourself looking your best. Thanks for being our warrior Jennifer!

Dani said...

Morning, Jennifer!

This topic is endlessly interesting.

As Amy posted, once you set your 'standard' of dressing, your friends and co-workers will hopefully comment less on your dressing up as it will no longer be unusual to them.

Like the reader mentioned in your video, I am
also on the introverted side and when I've dressed
up at work, the kind comments make me squirm–maybe in part, it comes from worrying that people are thinking "why would you dress up for this? why are you so eager?"

My work in an office has some people dressing office-casual but most (especially those in their early 20s) dressing for the beach/bed/watching Netflix with their cats. Completely demoralizing. Flip flops, cut-off short jean shorts, tight tank tops with contrary bra-straps. Horrible, really.

When a new person starts work, they dress nicely for their first and day or so, but they quickly absorb the 'anything goes' message and are dressing like everyone else by the end of the week.

The attitude is: what is the least amount of effort I can put into dressing/the most comfortable I can be/the most skin I can show?

I can't help feeling that this affects my morale as well as everyone else's. Will keep trying to push myself to raise my standards and not fall into the
comfort-trap. Your weekly videos and books are
encouraging along this journey and I always feel
uplifted because of them.

ps. Because of your recommendation, I am currently reading "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Condo and found two full recycling bags full of clothes to give away yesterday–so freeing!

Thank you!

Dianna said...

Many years ago I wore a skirt to work instead of the standard jeans. I did get a lot of comments about it and, as I am very uncomfortable with attention, especially about my appearance, I ended up pretending I was behind on laundry and had no choice. What a coward I was!

These days I'm a stay-at-home mom. I notice that as I make more effort with my appearance, my kids really appreciate it, especially my daughter. Our children notice more than we think! I also feel better about myself and get more done when I don't feel like a slob.

Amy said...

So often I get comments from friends and family such as "come comfy" or "it's going to be super casual" as a way of suggesting I not come too fancy. Trust me, I am not showing up in gowns and heels and I wear little makeup. I just say nothing and dress as I usually would. I don't comment or judge others and I wish they'd allow me the same courtesy. They mean no harm but it bothers me.

Jenny Gholson-Morris said...

May I make a suggestion? If you think a big deal would be made in your office if you're suddenly dressing up, then make the transition slowly. Add jewelry or a scarf, then gradually start transitioning to a dressier wardrobe.

Ideally, you wouldn't have to do this. But you may have co-workers who become threatened by a sudden change, and if so, that could cause problems. In some offices it might result in nothing more than a few comments and gentle kidding. In other offices, it could be perceived as overly-ambitious and "fake."

Emily said...

First thing to remember is, even if you get comments on your dress when you change it, those comments are going to go away eventually once people get used to it. I think they only need to see you 2 or 3 times to realize it's become your habit to dress well and they will stop bothering you. The other thing would be to learn to accept (and maybe even like) comments and compliments! Finally, in response to Amy's comment about how her friends tell her to 'dress comfy' for an event, might I suggest that they feel like slobs in comparison, and that that is their motivation for saying such things? :)

Unknown said...

Jennifer, I have really enjoyed your books and look forward to your weekly posts.

I do have this experience. I am a sahm, the typical uniform would be sweatpants & t shirts..

I wear skirts, dresses, blosses and cardigans for the everyday. Also with a vintage or classic vibe. When I am asked where I am going or what the special occasion is I reply...LIFE! This isn't a rehersal, you only have one..so why not show up dressed for it!

I think this attitude also lends itself to your use your best policy well.

Thank you for letting us know we are not alone I out desire to live well and with standards.

Anonymous said...

I recently went to an elegant winery/chateau for lunch with two friends. I wore a black dress with pearls and complementary earrings. My friends had on jeans,t-shirts, and sneakers. One of my friends commented on how dressed up I was. The other one said, "Yes, Alice is much more elegant than most of us." At first, I was a bit uncomfortable with their comments even though they were not said in a snarky way. However, I bowed my head graciously and said, "Thank you." Then I changed the subject.

Cathie said...

What a great post on a situation and topic that I think most of us who have ever tried dressing as the best version of our selves have come across and thought about.

I used to hate being 'called out' on dressing up. Comments ranging from 'surely you must be going somewhere' to 'what a high-maintenance diva you must be!' can certainly chip away at your joy in your outfit, and your self-confidence. I would downplay my choices at first, but then realised I'm not here to make other people's views of the world come true.

Nowadays, I take it as a compliment, thank the people who draw attention to my lovely ensembles, and if they ever ask me why or for whom I dress up for, I tell them "For myself, because it's a beautiful day and I want to reflect that." It usually gets them thinking what a great notion that actually is. I like to believe I helped change some attitudes towards dressing well in the people around me a little bit!

Stephanie said...

The first few times you wear a new outfit or dress a certain way you naturally do get more attention. However, most people aren't going to comment on any one piece of clothing more than a couple of times. This is where having a 10 item wardrobe is helpful. As you persevere in your new style, people will come to recognize it and associate it with you, but it will not draw quite as much attention as it did the first few times.

helen tilston said...

Hello Jennifer,

I am in total agreement with you on this subject. I always dress well. It started with my father who told me at a very young age, in Gaelic, "that you never get a second chance to make a good first impression" I work for a major airline, in the office for many years and our President, Maxwell W Ward's philosophy was that we were Ambassadors for our country when we travelled and we are not just representing ourselves but our country. There is a marvellous line in "Akila and the Bee" a movie of some years ago and the protagonist tells Akila that by excelling (in spelling) one gives permission to others to excel.
I love your videos and do not always get around to commenting but wish to thank you.
Helen Tilston

Stephanie said...

"I'm not here to make other people's views of the world come true." Brilliant, Cathie!

Robyn said...

I do think you should look your best but, I also feel that it makes for a more harmonious work environment when our coworkers feel we are not out to out shine them. I am a teacher and our work environment is somewhat casual so I take the middle way approach. I wear nicely made things but stay very simple and hopefully elegant. So instead of " why are you so dressed up" I get " I really like your style". Nicely dressed, but I do not make others feel like I am out doing them. The focus should be on the quality of my work not my clothes.

Heather said...

Hi Jennifer,
I absolutely love your books and I read your blog every week. I have reduced my wardrobe and I am choosier about the items that I do allow in, but I am more of a 20-25 item girl (we are all works in progress, right?).
I simply had to tell you that I really appreciate your post today about dressing up and the attention that one might attract. I am in Malibu (just up the road from you) and I wore a dress with heels to a Bible Study planning meeting. When the ladies asked (as you knew they would) why I was so dressed up, I simply said, "for you." It seemed like just the right response.
I am a believer that one should use their best and enjoy what they have. Life is too short to save your best for a few select days out of the year. As I cultivate my "best", those items need to "earn their keep" in my storage/closet/etc. and be useful in my daily life.
Thank you for encouraging all of us to be our best, look our best, and use our best -- ALL of the time.

Carey said...

Dear Jennifer,

My daughter and I love watching your videos and reading your books and blog. We have incorporated your blog into our homeschool curriculum for manners, poise, fashion with modesty, etc. As a stay-at-home-homeschool-mom, I get asked regularly why I dress so nicely. My answer is that I dress well to show respect for God, my husband, my children, my community and myself. I heard a missionary, who dressed very well, once explain that as Christians, we represent the Most High God as ambassadors. Ambassadors for a country dress very carefully in order to represent their homeland well. We should do the same. My daughter, Mya, age 8, wanted to ask you a question. "Do you like to go hiking in the mountains? And if so, what do you wear when you go hiking?" We live in Colorado, and hiking in the mountains is a favorite activity. Thanks so much, Carey

vicki johnston said...

Jennifer, I love what you are doing, and I hope your inspirational messages about proper dress, behavior, etc. continue to go far and wide. I remember years ago, when our children were small, we took them to the ballet. I dressed them in their best dresses and coats. Alas, when we arrived, I was so disappointed to see so many people dressed in jeans, puffy jackets, and sneakers. This became the norm in nice restaurants, too. I do not like to be in a fine restaurant seated next to a table of sloppily dressed patrons. So I join you in saying "Please, people, dress appropriately when you go out." Think about all the hours and years of practicing and hard work that go into being a dancer and putting on a performance. Think about the restaurant owner who probably spent countless hours and many thousands of dollars building his dream. Show your respect for their efforts by dressing in a way that honors them. Cheers to you, Jennifer.

taylorcait said...

Thank you so much for this, Jennifer! I live in a very rural part of NC, and dressing nicely for most people consists of non-holey jeans and t-shirts with no words on them. I stand out like a sore thumb. Most people just stare, but sometimes people make comments. Like Heather, I go to Bible study planning meetings (45 minutes away, because that's the nearest town we go to for everything), and many people there have even commented on my dress. I'm ashamed to admit that my response to them is usually "it's my day to come to the city, I had to look nice!" to try to deflect attention. This video was so timely. I always enjoy discussion on this, as it helps to encourage one another in our "using our best always" endeavors.

Unknown said...

Hello Jennifer,

I live in a small, rural town in Victoria Australia.

I am a sloppy dresser.

Untill now, I never put together that my sloppy dressing, messy hair and lack of make up directly affects my lack of self esteem, low moods, lack of enthusiasm for my day and general sloppiness through day to day life.

I am also overweight. Not a lot, but enough that I am uncomfortable.

Now that I have read your article, I feel like I have put the pieces of the puzzle together.
When I do take the time to dress nicely, do my hair, do my make up I hold myself so much more nicely.
I don't feel frumpy, I eat slowly and gracefully and I don't sit on the couch in my pyjamas overeating comfort foods and feeling, well, crappy.
I take the time to make nice food, eat slowly and gracefully, maintain my home and I think nice thoughts about myself.

The issue that has just occoured to me, is that I only do the 'dressing' thing, say, once every 6 weeks or so.

After reading your article, I see you're right. I see what your saying.
You have inspired me to get back my self esteem and zest for life.
The first step? Getting off the couch, taking a shower, and dressing nicely today.
I'm so nervous though! I wonder why the thought of this makes me almost feel sick with anxiety?!

Bybee said...

My mom recently encouraged me to not dress up too much for an upcoming event. Sad. In other news , Megan had a fabulous comment above.

Indeliblylucent said...

Thank you for the this video. It certainly reinforced my approach to my standard of dress. I work in a primary (elementary) school as a teacher's assistant. Particularly at my current school I notice the standard of dress declines the further down the hierarchy with a lot of the TA's simply wearing jeans, tees and sand-shoes (sneakers/plimsoles). I determined that while I will remain faithful to my edgier, slightly alternative style, I always make sure I am wearing tights and dresses that could pass for professional level presentation. At first (also being an introvert) I was self-conscious, but that subsided as people got used to it. I do find it makes a significant difference with the staff, parens and students. I'm taken seriously and yet when I know I can be more relaxed in my approach to the students I don't tend to lose respect.

NCJack said...

Let me add that guys get this, too. Been a number of threads on Ask Andy About Clothes on how to respond to the "Watchoo all dressed upfer?" when one is only wearing a collared shirt, sport coat, and non-jeans. I wish I had a great response to share, but mine is simply "I like the style". It does beat the obvious riposte "Why are you dressed for yardwork?"

Unknown said...

At lunch with an old friend today, she commented about how I never look frumpy. I was flattered since I'm struggling with my weight, which is extra difficult now that I'm middle-aged. I also appreciate her words because here in too casual California, it's really not hard to pull oneself together quickly. I work from home so I have no professional reason to dress nicely. I also have no reason not to :-) -M

Janette - The2Seasons said...

My husband said to me on a typical Monday as I was doing house chores, "Why are you all dressed up?" I winked at him and said, "For you!!" We'll be celebrating our 43rd wedding anniversary on June 3, and I still enjoy making him think he is special. (He hasn't figured out yet that my regular routine now is to "get dressed up.)

Meli said...

I left a long comment that got lost :( So, trying to sum it up again:

When I first started dressing nicely, I worked at a very very large company. I'm a confident person but do not enjoy a lot of attention either, so I understand you! I got a lot of comments, and the nicer ones I could accept and move on ('That's a nice dress! or 'you look nice today') but the other comments I had trouble with ('Hot date tonight?' 'Someone's going on a job interview!' 'Why so fancy?') I learned to respond, the nicer ones with a simple thank you, and the not-so-nice ones with typically, 'thanks, but no, I just felt like wearing this today' etc. Eventually they got used to it and stopped commenting.

Now, I work in a small office that is much more casual than business compared to the last company. I like my dressy wardrobe and don't want to casualify it! I've received some comments but plan to just keep on and keep my head high! One coworker for instance mentioned on a casual Friday that I didn't look comfortable enough, what did I have against jeans? I was surprised- I was wearing a knit dress and it was a hot day. I just told her dresses were more comfortable than jeans to me (I DO wear jeans!), and was rewarded with a look like I was an alien from outer space lol!

I realize I still let this (avoidance of attention) affect me with my hair. When I do anything different with my hair, it feels like EVERYONE has to make a comment. I dislike all the remarks so to avoid it I do nothing different. I think I need to change this.

Note to Jen Fletch- go for it lady! It'll get easier in time and you'll feel more authentic to yourself. You'll be amazed how far just dressing like you care will take you.

Emily said...

I have also been watching Murder She Wrote on Netflix :) Love it!

Jenny Gholson-Morris said...

Perhaps this will be helpful to some: A friend suggested, a few years ago, that if someone pays you a compliment and you feel awkward and don't know what to say, you can always say "That's very kind of you. Thank you." It deflects a little attention away from oneself in a polite way.

Unknown said...

I get this a lot, as I like to dress nicely for work and running errands. I don't mind the attention if the comment is kindly intended (a simple "thank you" in response to "don't you look nice"), but when questioned I have a couple standard answers:

Q: What are you all dressed up for? (benign curiosity)

A: I was in the mood.


A: For Fun!

Q: What are you all dressed up for? (malicious undertones)

A: Because I have a little self-respect (insert slow up and down glance at questioner, implying questioner lacks same).

All of the above answers are guaranteed to end the conversation forever. Feel free to use.

I will note, though, that suddenly improving one's appearance in the workplace can throw up a lot of red flags and the rumor may get started that you are looking for another position. The politics of dress in the workplace are complicated and your personal style should take a backseat to office dynamics to avoid being singled out - for better or worse - at work.

Anonymous said...

Jennifer, I started dressing well after reading your book. And since I changed my entire wardrobe, I felt my mood lift. Now, instead of thinking "What can I get away with wearing?" when popping out to town, I try and pick the best outfit to present the best version of myself to the world. Thank you for inspiring us all!

Rita said...

I think we just need to sluff off the negative comments, they tell more about the commenter than they do about you. Just like people who are trying to lose weight often find others try to sabotage their efforts. Meli22, I agree jeans are NOT comfortable when its hot outside, I've never understood why anyone wears them in the summertime. And NCJack, thanks for the laugh!

Unknown said...

This could not come have come a at better time. I read your first book just after it came out and loved all the advice, suggestions and thoughts. I immediately changed my way of dressing. I work from home part time and am a stay at home mom. I loved getting up in the morning and getting dressed, putting on a bit of makeup and I am ready for the day. If I had to run errands I was ready, I didn't have to fret over getting ready, I was ready. I have a couple of friends who are also SAHM who were sweat pants, t-shirts or just dress sloppy and when ever I saw them, had lunch/coffee I always felt out of place, like I was trying to show them up. So, I have fallen back on my sloppy ways, at this moment it is 11am and I am still in my pj's working. I am going to reread your book, keep it beside my bed as a reminder and get back into looking nice and presentable. Thank you for the advice and I believe the comments here that if you keep at it and have a witty comeback for the snarky people they will eventually see the new, nicely dressed you and maybe you will inspire them to change as well. Thank you.

Jan said...

You are so spot-on about finding the answer to... "why do you not want the attention ...what's causing you to feel uncomfortable ... is it the outfit or is the way you look in the outfit?"


Anonymous said...

I like to dress presentably when I go out to run errands, or even go garage-saling. Occasionally, someone will ask me what I'm dressed up for. I just tell them that I feel better when I dress well. A person generally makes a comment once, then they get used to seeing you that way and stop commenting. Don't take their remarks -- either the compliments or the sarcasm -- personally; it really says more about them than it says about you. And the way that dressing well can make you feel is SO worth it! I even wear nighties with matching robes and a bit of lipstick and brow pencil at night. Not because I want to impress anyone or because anyone will see me. But simply because it makes me feel good about myself.

Anonymous said...

I believe many people make these comments because it points to the lack in their own life. It's the same when a person stops drinking or eating a clean diet or for that matter, any change for the better. When changes takes place, close friends and coworkers tend to get defensive because it makes them take a close look at themselves.
To the women who wrote the letter; don't give in please, it's these small changes that give others the strength to do the same.

Unknown said...

Thank you Meli22!!! :)

Polly said...

I have not experienced much of this and it may come from living in the South, where people aren't as casual as they are elsewhere in the country.

But I do think that if you go straight from yoga pants to dresses you will get comments for a while from surprised people, but they will get used to it! Once a friend came over for tea and I was teaching homeschool in a long wool skirt, navy blue sweater, scarf and pearl earrings. She laughed and said "just as I expected!"

There you go! :)

Caley said...

I am a SAHM and I offer daycare for a few children during the week. A few days after taking on a new little girl, her mother commented that she thought I was "brave for dressing so nicely" around the children. I noticed that over the next few days, her work attire became a little less casual and a little more professional, without sacrificing comfort or appearing "too dressy" for her particular work environment. It is amazing how you can plant a seed with others simply by being authentic and taking pride in yourself.

ExecutiveKnitter said...

I am so glad you mentioned this. I have have always dressed well, with intention and get this comment all the time. Sorta sick of it. I just flatly say - "this is how I dress." It's sorta rude that people call you out when you dress nice - how about I call you out for dressing like you are weeding your garden. "oh - don't you look comfortable- are you going to mow the lawn?" If you want compliment me - then great. The additional commentary is not necessary.

Ashitha said...

Hey Jennifer,

Around 6 months ago I read your book about the ten - item wardrobe and my exams were going on during that time, I was completely blown away reading this concept. It was just the thing I needed . I was so excited I found this book that just turned my life to the right direction... Actually I believe I attracted this book because I've been wanting an elegant life from a long time.

I couldn't wait for my exams to get over so that I can pull out all the clothes I never really liked and implemented my 10 item wardrobe .

Its just blissful to dress every morning I can't thank you enough for this.

My mother is intrigued with all this. She keeps pestering me to give her your books. Iam planning to gift her one on her birthday.

Thank you.

Kathryn Bechen said...

Loved this post Jennifer and I think it's true that we should continue to dress as our best in spite of what others might think or say, and set an example. It is easier in some locales though, I think. I read the most wonderful book yesterday on dressing well for mature women that you might like, even though you are young now. I know you have some mature readers so here it is: It's called Beautiful Encore: Makeovers for Mature Women and a quote in there struck me as most true: "Without a polished exterior, your interior is a shadow. Illuminating yourself by caring about your hair, clothing, makeup, and most important of all your health is neither a superficial pursuit nor an insurmountable goal. You can project a visual language that says to your peers that you're comfortable and confident in who you've become." Isn't that a great way of putting it?! The book not only shows wonderful before and after photos of many real-life women--it tells the inner stories of the women's lives and all they have contributed to the world, sometimes in spite of great odds and hardships. The hair makeovers are just FAB! Also, have you seen Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries show? It's fashions from the 20s that are so beautiful. I have a Miss Fisher Pinterest board if you want to check the outfits out fast. She's quite a character on the show. Anyway, keep up your good work! :)

Unknown said...

Dear Jennifer,

This is so weird but I have been wearing my best clothes for a while now and tried to put a little bit more thought into how I look everyday. I wear pretty dresses, skirts and blouses which I love and adore. (I am planning and wearing my ten item wardrobe and I love it so far! Thank you. I will let you know how it goes in the future - even if you won't read it. Haha.)
Today was my first day at my new workplace and I was standing on a staircase next to my collegue, who was talking to some other people. There was this lady who looked at me with distaste and said "you shouldn't wear dresses here." The way she said it made me feel very uncomfortable and almost a little sad. I understand that she was maybe trying to be nice... but my dress was knee length and not very poofy or anything. It was a proper, conservative and chic dress, nothing flashy or too short. My own thought was that she could have benefitted from reading your book and putting her best foot forward.

Again, thank you for changing my view of life and teaching me that I am worth the best that I can afford. I love spoiling myself every now and then.

Unknown said...

Hi Jennifer,

How did dressing sloppily ever become associated with being comfortable! To me, sloppy is ugly and depressing and makes me feel DIScomforted. Dressing well is a sign of respect for yourself and others. It doesn't take $$$--most of my clothes come from thrift stores--it's mostly a matter of attitude and wanting to present your best self to yourself, your friends and family and others. Even studies have shown that you feel better and perform better when you put your best foot forward. Thanks, Jennifer, for supporting positive values and standing in the gap!

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karla kane said...

I love your comment and totally agree with you about how we dress shows respect to God our husbands, kids, friends and community.

Erica said...

I live on a farm. There is a very distinct divide between my home clothes, and my school clothes (I attend university about twice a week). I admit, I love to stay at home, and romp around the woods, feed the pigs, and dig in the garden. I am happy but I know I don't exactly look chic most of the time. So when I put on something nice everyone knows I am going out somewhere, besides the woods and sometimes they ask where I am going, out of friendly curiosity.
However I do love to dress up for school. One day the neighbour girl caught me after school- I had returned earlier than usual, and she came up to me and said I looked so nice, she wasn't sure if it was me.
Ouch. But fair enough. Now I am trying to curate a 10-item wardrobe which is nice and yet pig-feeding appropriate. And, like you recommend, I always wear an apron when I'm baking, cooking or cleaning.
Perhaps in your third book you could write about Mme Chic, Mme Boheme et Mme Campagne?

Sarah said...

I love Robyn's point of finding a "middle way," especially at your workplace. It's important to fit into the office culture to a certain extent. You don't have to be sloppy, but if the company culture embraces business casual (such as a tech company that celebrates the idea of wearing jeans every day and detests the very thought of suits and pantyhose), wear quality clothes that still fit the overall atmosphere to some degree. This doesn't mean you have to have low standards. Clothing is a tribal thing, which is why everyone notices and comments on it. People identify and like people who dress in the same range of formality as thy do. So you can still wear pieces that fit impeccably, are made of beautiful materials, and that you love to wear, but they aren't going to make you stick out completely from everyone else.

Some people can carry it off and wear much more formal things and it's fine. I think it's true that if this is just your normal attire, people will stop commenting on it. But I think it's also wise to adjust to the occasion and office culture.

Diane said...

Jennifer, your videos and everyone's comments are always so inspirational. I'm vowing to do a better job of looking my best when I walk out the door each day.
Also, I'm going to Paris in July and my biggest dilemma is shoes. I will do a lot of walking and I refuse to wear sneakers even though they are the most comfortable. Any suggestions?

taylorcait said...

Diane, I have several pair of Crocs flats and sandals and I will say, hands down, they are unbelievably comfortable. They do NOT look like Crocs at all. I wear them when I go to the park to walk, and I plan to take them on a mission trip to Guatemala this summer, where we will be doing a lot of walking. I order mine online and have never had a sizing issue. I suggest looking in to them!

Lynne in NC said...

Chiming in later here. Whenever I visit my mother-in-law she would always say, "now, it's casual, so don't dress up." She would be dressed in an over-sized polo shirt and ratty jeans and be bare-footed. Of course, it was her home and she could dress however made her comfortable. She was very toned and slim all her life and could have worn ANYTHING and looked fabulous in it! I would "try" to dress down in my knit slacks, cardigan, tailored blouse and flats. However, if I ever wore a skirt or dress she would exclaim how she wished I wouldn't dress up so much. I don't feel comfortable in jeans, (I cannot find a comfortable pair for my shape), and have a pared-down wardrobe so my wardrobe choices are more selective.
Thank you for the video and for the blog -- I love your writing and look forward to your next book. Cheers!

Unknown said...

Jennifer, I love this topic! At my last job, the dress was more casual than I was used to for a work environment. My job before that was in politics, where everyone dressed smartly. Instead of buying a new wardrobe to fit into my toned down environment, I dressed very much the same way I was used to. I didn't realize it at first, but I was developing a reputation as the well-dressed, stylish coworker. To me, I was simply carrying on with what I was used to. I too, am not one to crave attention, especially at work. But I embraced my identity and learned that putting that extra care into my appearance actually positively affected how I was viewed in the work place!

Selina said...

I remember going to a concert with a friend who dresses like a student still, in jeans and t-shirts and trainers. I brought with me a nice dress and she didn't even think of what to wear so she took out some spare t-shirt to go with her usual ensemble. I was amazed that she didn't dress up for an occasion and told her that people would be looking well dressed there. We got there and people were dressed so elegantly, she looked at her outfit and said 'So people are really dressed up. Ok, maybe I should have done that.'I was a bit annoyed that it took her so long to realise that just for that 1 evening. I use to dress like a slob for many years until I started to take an interest in clothes. Now for the last few years, people keep asking me why I'm so dressed up and I get a lot of people staring at me (unfriendly a lot of the time) as I walk down the street or get the bus. It's not my problem that they are dressed like tramps

Unknown said...

Hi Jennifer,

I am not sure why our society reacts so dramatically in response to someone actually keeping standards of appearance but after reading this article, I realize that this same positive and negative attention has affected my wardrobe choices. In the beginning of my career I always wore profession dress to any work activity and was aghast when I saw people in flips flops and jeans in formal meetings. As a nurse I felt like people were constantly looking at me like "who does she think she is?" While as to date I have NEVER worn flip flops to a business meeting yet, I have caved to the pressure and adjusted my style to dress down more. I think back and wonder why I did that. I am not sure why I felt uncomfortable when I was actually wearing the recommended appropriate dress.

I was young and single at the time as well and I would get a lot of questions like "are you trying to snag a boyfriend? Its not really professional to date someone from work." I would get embarrassed because I wasn't trying to "snag" anyone, I just took pride in my appearance. Anyway, I am not the young bashful girl I was then but I can see that these type of comments still unconsciously affects my style choices. Now I wonder when people respond to me this way why I feel responsible for their opinion of me. Its their opinion not mine, let them think what the will. And like you said maybe we can be a good example and bring standards back to our society! Great topic!

Also, I have to tell you I have just finished reading your second book. I reviewed your first book on my blog and it inspired me to write a follow up article as well.I am about to review your second book 'At Home With Madame Chic.' Your story and your experiences really resonated with me. Not because I have had a similar experience but because I am turned off by the same things Madame Chic is in your book. I desire to have that timeless quality she displays throughout your stories.

Your books interest me so much I found you on twitter and your blog to see what else you were writing about. I found this vlog/article and found it really to the point about the abandonment of standards of appearance in our society. Your first book actually inspired me to write a follow-up article about the lack of appearance standards in our society and the need to teach our children better habits than we have learned! If interested you can check it out @ http://www.kimilykendrick.com/follow-up-to-lessons-from-madame-chic-20-stylish-secrets-i-learned-while-living-in-paris-review/

April said...

I'm Southern, and the way I was raised, you get up, get dressed, hair, makeup, all of it, no matter what. I have 6 kids ages 2-8. My oldest are triplets. Even in the brutal days with newborn, premature triplets I got up and got dressed with hair and makeup. In those days it was khakis and nicer t shirts bc there was a lot of spit up and poop, but I did it without fail. Still do. I feel awful if I don't. My husband appreciates it (though he says I'm beautiful no matter what). I'm in the process of whittling down my wardrobe to 40-ish pieces per season. I did it for this summer and I love it. I actually keep pulling things out. I'm on my 3rd garbage bag of clothes to get rid of. I have listend to the magic of Tidying up twice now, and instead of deciding what to get rid of, I'm deciding what to keep. That seems easier to me.

All my life, especially when I had so many little kids, people would ask me why I bothered, how I managed, etc., but I do it for me, not for anyone else. It makes ME feel good. So when they ask I say, "This is how I was raised, and I don't feel right if I don't." To which they reply with the various reasons why they can't. If I can do it, you can do it, but I don't say that. We all make our own choices. I get comments from people who don't know me, like my new neighbor who knocked on my door at 8 am and I was all dressed, but now she knows that is just how I am. The other positive is that no matter what, if something happens or someone calls, I'm ready to go at a moment's notice. I don't have to miss out on an impromptu outing to the park with my kids and our friends bc I haven't gotten ready yet or be embarrassed if I have to run to the school. I have two cute aprons I wear when cooking or cleaning. A CUTE apron is a must.

Really enjoying your blog.

Null said...

Love your comment, I feel the same. I think we are nervous because change, even good change, is stressful. I'm taking it slow, doing better every day.