What Do Your Clothes Say About You?

Since 2018 began, I have been walking back through some of the things I have learned over the past fifteen years…when my reinvention at age 50 started.  One of the simplest, yet most profound, lessons has been that my clothing sends a message everytime I dress…no matter whether the clothing is sloppy or refined.

I just never thought about it before I began to study fashion and style.  But, it makes perfect sense and I began to consider what I was saying at that time and how I wanted to change the messaging going forward.  It occurred to me that by controlling the messages with my clothing then I could develop my own personal style and create something unique just for me.  That was when I decided to use “adjectives” to my benefit.  I selected five adjectives and for years, I would look in the mirror and ask if my outfit met all of those adjectives.  If it did, I walked out of the house.  If it didn’t, I made changes until I could say it did.  This system (which I started calling the Foundational Five) helped me so much with knowing what to wear and what to buy.

I have refined my five adjectives a little since I began.  Now, I want my clothing to say I am savvy, creative, approachable, youthful, and strong.  I believe the outfit I am wearing today communicates those messages.  The necklace and leather leggings would be the creative, and youthful part of the outfit.  I believe the soft cardigan and long tank are the pieces which say approachable.  I have always believed strong neutrals say savvy and strong….though I know there are some who would say boring. So, only you know what you are going for, and it matters to think about what you want to say.  Begin to look in the mirror before you leave the house, and ask yourself what am I saying with this look.

So, if you wanted your outfits to communicate five messages every time you dress, what would those adjectives be.  There are thousands of adjectives, but you have to only pick five and they must be your own to create a unique you. Please share…I think it helps all of us to hear what your selections are.

Today’s outfit:

Eileen Fisher Tank and Cardigan

Faux leather leggings from Soft Surroundings

Frye Leather Flats from Macys

As usual, I picked out some similar garments below.  Thanks for being here…tell us your adjectives!

KEEP SMILING!! (Always says approachable, friendly, joyful)



Linking with  Fashion Fun Friday… Thursday Blog Hop



  1. “…my clothing sends a message every time I dress…” So much wisdom in your wise words!
    Generally I ask myself—if I saw another woman wearing what I see in my mirror after I dress, would I give her an atta girl smile?

  2. My five adjectives would be:
    (1) cute
    (2) appropriate (my age, day’s plan, modest)
    (3) comfortable (the fit – individual pieces and overall outfit)
    (4) personal (does it “look” like me and not like someone else)
    (5) confident

  3. Love this theory, but if I applied it to myself right now it would say, “go back to bed”. I’m a work in progress.

  4. I have long ascribed to the Foundational Five, since I first read about this method on your blog. I have laminated cards that are always with me when I shop that contain my adjectives, along with color samples that work for my coloring. I have two sets of adjectives, and like yours, mine do change at times, though really not big changes! For work, mine are: Classy, chic, current, confident, polished. (All kind of the same, but you can kind of see the theme I’m going for in my stilted office environment! It may be uptight, but I don’t want to be!) For my weekend and casual wear: Classy, chic, current, comfortable, adventurous. I am really careful about messages, even when I’m working in the yard! Your Foundational Five changed the way I shop, the way I get dressed, and the way I see and present myself! I highly recommend that anyone would give this some thought! It works!!

  5. Thanks for sharing your story, Karen. I have friends who are so happy I shared with them, because over the past ten years they have seen it work. It is simple and makes sense to me….I like your adjectives…good choices.

  6. Good choices, Michele. When I stay true to my adjectives then I am confident every day. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Like it or not, what we wear says something…good or bad. I try to always communicate positive, confident joy with what I am wearing.

  8. Hi Pamela,
    I have recently started following your blog and would love to know about your inspiration and reinvention fifteen years ago. I am on a similar journey as well. I have signed up twice to receive the information through your website but have not received it. My name is Marie Damm and my email is mariedamm@hotmail.com. I just love your positive attitude and have had a lifelong battle with my weight. I am 57 now and for the first time in my life I am eating to be healthy. I am not perfect by have lost weight and am looking to reinvent my style, as opposed to covering up my body! Thanks for being such an inspiration!

  9. Hi Marie, I do not know why you have not received it, but I will send a PDF copy to your email right now. I hope it helps and have fun with this…I enjoyed learning and growing in confidence. Thanks for being persistant and, again, I apologize for you not getting the document.

  10. This is a wonderful post! Right now I think my foundational five would be: comfortable (always #1), appropriate, stylish, classic and well-fitting. I know this will change over time which means I am changing, too. Thanks, Pam, for all you help us with!

  11. Pam – you made my day!! I made my first time visit to the Chico’S In Promenade Mall (Rolling Hills, CA) and was impressed with the selection and courtesy f my saleslady. Found ideal bracelet and necklace for a gift. I signed up for their reward program and gave you the credit for my “discovery” of this elegant store! One big sale is underway there so I will return next week! Look forward to each blog for inspiration and motivation!

  12. Thank you, Mary Jane! I love to shop Chicos for gifts…I have a special friend that I always send her a Chicos treasure. And you are so smart to sign up for the Passport Program. So glad you are going back for you!

  13. I was happy to see others mention comfortable as one of their words. In recent years, comfortable has become synonymous with sloppy. It does not mean wearing a shapeless top & sweatpants. It means the garment doesn’t make me itch or require constant adjustment. I can’t be confident in uncomfortable clothing. My five words: comfortable, classic, polished, appropriate & confident.

  14. Love your words, Becky and agree on how you defined comfortable. I try to look my best every day and be comfortable. thanks!

  15. I read your blog all the time and this is the first time I’ve made a comment.You write so well and so thoughtfully and I thought it’s about time I let you know.
    Your post made me really think,and the five adjectives I have come up with are:

  16. Thank you for the comment, Julie! I like your adjectives…and so appreciate you being here.

  17. Love this concept. I will be using some of these words listed above! I have recently lost 70 lbs due to weight loss surgery and need to find my new style. I still have a way to go but I am really enjoying the options now available to me.

  18. It’s so true that our clothing sends a message before we even open our mouths. I recently visited a new dentist. Reviewing my personal information, the receptionist requested the name of my employer. When I told her I’ve recently retired, she said, “Oh my! You look so nice. You don’t look like you’re retired!” It was a compliment for me, I know, but it gave me a feeling that she half expected me to show up in pj’s or sweats. Never gonna happen! The last couple of years before I retired, I worked from home, but never in pajamas. I always got up and put myself together just as if I were going in to the office. I feel better and get more done when I’ve made that effort. Thanks for reinforcing this!

  19. Great story, Judi! Just shows how people expect retirement to look and it is time to break that stereotype! I know I won’t do it!

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