“Anyone can get dressed up and glamorous, but it is how people dress in their days off that are the most intriguing.” 

—Alexander Wang

As a signature style coach, I have found over and over again in my practice that it’s so much more about style than shopping as a form of self-love. At this time when taking care of our emotional health is more important than ever, we need to go beyond traditional notions of self-love. 

I admit, like many of us, I have used one-off shopping as a form of self-love. I’m sure you can relate! Yet, hitting the mall or our favorite online shops will never be enough to make us feel better about what’s going on deep inside. I have a friend who thought going on a massive shopping spree would lead her to feel better about her problems. I see it in my style community all the time—people choose new hairstyles and buy different clothes, thinking these exterior differences will change how they feel about their internal selves. It happens in other groups too; people might rely on their relationships or their writing output to ease their personal insecurities or doubts. As a writer, I’m familiar with this as well. 

Self-love is important. When it comes to going beyond self-love, one must embrace a profound style. It’s so much more than hiring a private shopper or buying a nice handbag. 

Profound style

Over the past 15 years, I have learned a thing or two from coaching individuals on style-related concerns. 

To have deep self-love and profound style, you must come to terms with the relationship that is most important of all: the relationship with yourself. 

Unfortunately, many of us are seeking external acceptance. This comes across as a desire for approval, and this need is strong. You might feel that you have to wear certain clothes, write in a certain way, or wear a certain hairstyle. It becomes a matter of attempting to please others by changing your style. Many of us don’t realize the intense role emotion is playing in our style journey. Until we unpack our emotional house, we’ll never accept the beautiful style that’s already within us. 

Take for example, a friend of mine sometimes tells me, “I’m not stylish,” or “My hairstyle is not good enough,” or “Why doesn’t anything ever look good on me?” or “I have nothing to wear!” I hate to say it, but after decades of searching, she is still searching for that “perfect” one. Her style issue would be resolved if she only loved the style she already had. 

How can you break the looking-for-self-love cycle? It begins not by taking action, but by asking the deep why. Yes, having great style and keeping oneself glamorous is very important, but until you uncover your deepest desires behind your style choices—asking the profound “why” about your style inner world?—no matter what stylist you hire or what you buy, it will never be enough. And no, you cannot ask “why?” once and be done with it; you must dig deep and keep asking why. Making a deep connection to the love that’s already in you happens through developing a true curiosity about yourself. This includes inquiring about your profound style.

In sum, it takes courage to have a profound style. As Oscar Wilde says “To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.” I know from experience as a woman who grew up in public housing in the American South that this requires a deep connection that is life long. Let me tell you, back when I was a little girl we never had the “trends” in my home, but we were always elegant. I carry this value with me to this day. Honor your current personal style and then grow from there. Once you deeply accept this reality and who you are, you will truly love your style choices. 

This kind of style goes beyond self-love.