How to Dress Outside Your Comfort Zone

Suzanne Delahunty Personal Stylist London

I recently had the pleasure of spending the morning with the creator of Nevenka, a fashion house from my home town of Melbourne. Every Nevenka piece is a work of art, each piece more dreamy than the last. I tried on dream dress after dream dress, wishing I was the kind of woman who would wear a bright pink, transparent, tiered, embroidered gown with a leather jacket and trainers on a daily basis.

So what's holding me back? It's my fashion comfort zone. Granted, my fashion comfort zone stretches pretty far and wide these days. I wear sequins during the day. I mix prints that theoretically shouldn't really go together. But day gowns is just that step too far for me... for now.

This is a dilemma that almost all of my clients encounter - they love fashion, and they love clothes, but there's some invisible force that is holding them back from wearing the pieces, the colours, the fabrics, the prints that deep in their heart of hearts they want to wear. So I've put together my tips: first, on whether you should consider dressing outside your fashion comfort zone; and second, how to do it.

1. When should you dress outside your fashion comfort zone?

Not everyone needs to think about dressing outside of their fashion comfort zone. Everyone's  fashion comfort zone is different. Some people are perfectly happy to splash around within the confines of the wading pool of their personal limits of jeans and t-shirts. And that's fine. While others are bored and constantly look longingly at outfits online or on others, wishing they could get away with the same look.

So why are they in this state of dissatisfaction and longing? For many of my clients, it's a fear of what their friends or family will say if they rock up to a get-together in head to toe sequins. Or how their colleagues will react if I turn up to the office in a sharp, tailored, pink suit instead of their usual monochrome co-ordinates.

If your comfort zone is holding you back from dressing true to what's really in your heart, then read on. Because you, my friend, need to start expanding your sartorial comfort zone and start dressing in the way that truly reflects who you are.

2. Identify the Look You Aspire to

Before you start changing your look, get focussed on which direction you want to take it in. Without focus and strategy you could end up with a mish-mash of new items or combinations that don't quite work and will discourage you from going any further.

I've written a full post about how to find your style and you can read it here. And the same principles apply when you want to expand your fashion comfort zone. To summarise them:

  • create an inspiration board of all the looks you love and wish you could wear, but something is holding you back from;
  • analyse it - what is the overall vibe of the look you like? Is it a particular styling trick? Is it a specific piece or is it a feeling or vibe that you get from the look? Are there certain prints or colours being combined masterfully?
  • get specific - identify the key/signature pieces, accessories, styling tricks, prints, fabrics, silhouettes, colours. Distil it all down to its essence. Name what it is and write it down.

This will then give you focus in your quest to extend your comfort zone.

3. Introduce Subtly, or One Piece at a Time

If you're not feeling entirely confident in taking steps in the direction of your new sartorial style, introduce it one piece at a time. Start with an accessory. If you covet a flamboyant leopard print dress but would feel self-conscious in it, start with a leopard print shoe or scarf or bag.

If you wish you could wear every colour of the rainbow, start with one colourful piece, whether it's a blouse or a jacket. Or if you want to mix prints like a Danish fashion influencer, take your guide from the style icons who do it best and start introducing the prints on their own before combining them.

If sequins or luxe fabrics are your thing, try dressing them down with more casual every-day pieces so you don't feel quite so self-conscious. You're effectively smuggling them in, disguised as something more casual than they are. Never underestimate the power of white fashion trainers to neutralise the most extravagant pieces.

4. Wear it Anonymously

For so many of my clients, the thing holding them back is the fear of what their friends and family will say about their new aesthetic. So what about testing it out on days where you won't be seeing anyone you know? It might be a solo shopping afternoon, or a day when you're running errands on your own. There's power that comes from not caring what people think, and  when you're in that power, you get comfy in what you're wearing. And that's how your comfort zone starts to expand.

5. Reassess How You See Yourself

Fashion really is a way of expressing who you are, or who you're becoming. It's something to be enjoyed and have fun with. So if you're denying yourself this freedom of expression, then think about why you're telling yourself you can't wear certain things.

If you don't feel confident in your body, then consider whether it is coming from other issues and look for ways you can work on this. Read up on it. Listen to podcasts. Or even  get professional help to talk through the issues.

If it's because you, your family or friends have pigeon-holed you into a specific role (e.g. you're the quiet one, the conservative one, the casual one) then you've got to change your mindset.

Your personality is constantly evolving. Think about it. You are not the same person as you were ten years ago, are you? So you don't have to dress the same way as you always have. And yes, people might comment on your changing style. You just need to keep reminding yourself that this is who you are. You won't be held back by other people's (and your own) limiting thoughts. Have conviction with your new style and wear it with purpose and confidence.

A personal stylist can help with this. But if you can't afford a personal stylist, a good trick is to always think to yourself, "If I moved to a new city and new job where I knew no one, what would I wear? What side of my personality would I feel free to express without fear of judgment from those who've known me forever?" You'd be surprised at your answers. Go with them.

The benefits of expanding your fashion comfort zone are not to be underestimated. Shopping and getting dressed becomes more fun. Your shopping habits will become more focussed once you know what look you're going for, and as a result you spend less on impulse purchases. And most of all, once you've expanded that comfort zone and you're playing around in it, you feel more confident, at ease in your own skin and you'll look fabulous.

If you want to find out more about how I can help you define your style and start evolving into it: 

Suzanne Delahunty Personal Stylist London
Suzanne Delahunty Stylist London
The first step to building your dream wardrobe is to get crystal clear on what your personal style is. It has to reflect who you are, your values, your lifestyle and work for your shape and colours. DM me if you would like the support of my professional styling devices to develop your own personal style and start to build your dream wardrobe. #suzannedelahuntystylist
The first step to building your dream wardrobe is to get crystal clear on what your personal style is. It has to reflect who you are, your values, your lifestyle and work for your shape and colours. DM me if you would like the support of my professional styling devices to develop your own personal style and start to build your dream wardrobe. #suzannedelahuntystylist
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What you wear directly impacts how you are perceived by others and that is entirely within your control. So think about how you want to be perceived and dress like it. Save post for future reference: five examples of how to dress for specific impact. #suzannedelahuntystylist
What you wear directly impacts how you are perceived by others and that is entirely within your control. So think about how you want to be perceived and dress like it. Save post for future reference: five examples of how to dress for specific impact. #suzannedelahuntystylist
What you wear directly impacts how you are perceived by others and that is entirely within your control. So think about how you want to be perceived and dress like it. Save post for future reference: five examples of how to dress for specific impact. #suzannedelahuntystylist
What you wear directly impacts how you are perceived by others and that is entirely within your control. So think about how you want to be perceived and dress like it. Save post for future reference: five examples of how to dress for specific impact. #suzannedelahuntystylist
What you wear directly impacts how you are perceived by others and that is entirely within your control. So think about how you want to be perceived and dress like it. Save post for future reference: five examples of how to dress for specific impact. #suzannedelahuntystylist
What you wear directly impacts how you are perceived by others and that is entirely within your control. So think about how you want to be perceived and dress like it. Save post for future reference: five examples of how to dress for specific impact. #suzannedelahuntystylist
What you wear directly impacts how you are perceived by others and that is entirely within your control. So think about how you want to be perceived and dress like it. Save post for future reference: five examples of how to dress for specific impact. #suzannedelahuntystylist

What you wear directly impacts how you are perceived by others and that is entirely within your control. So think about how you want to be perceived and dress like it. Save post for future reference: five examples of how to dress for specific impact. #suzannedelahuntystylist

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Whether you’re clinging on to the last warm days of summer or coming into spring weather (Australia), the clincher in any outfit is the cashmere sweater. Wear it draped over your shoulders and tied around your neck for style and more warmth. #suzannedelahuntystylist

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📸 @johnnysturrock

If you’re starting to get out your autumn wardrobe and find you don’t know what to wear, I’ve done some styling videos with @coaldropsyard to provide you with the inspiration you need. Whether it’s dressing for work, how to layer your outfits or what to look out for in fashion this season, it’s all there. Click my bio link to watch the videos. #suzannedelahuntystylist

📸 @johnnysturrock

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Developing your personal style and showing up in any situation looking and feeling like the very best version of you is an absolute power move. Taking an interest in your personal style is not frivolous. It’s about recognising that your success in all aspects of your life comes from both inside and outside and making sure they are both aligned. DM me if you’d like the support of my personal styling to help you with your own style. #suzannedelahuntystylist

Developing your personal style and showing up in any situation looking and feeling like the very best version of you is an absolute power move. Taking an interest in your personal style is not frivolous. It’s about recognising that your success in all aspects of your life comes from both inside and outside and making sure they are both aligned. DM me if you’d like the support of my personal styling to help you with your own style. #suzannedelahuntystylist

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It’s almost time for the seasonal wardrobe switcheroo. Save post for reference. Start thinking about getting your autumn/winter clothes out of storage and put your summer clothes away (or vice versa if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere). Here’s my tips for doing it in a way that looks after your clothes and enables you to think about your wardrobe for the coming seasons. #suzannedelahuntystylist
It’s almost time for the seasonal wardrobe switcheroo. Save post for reference. Start thinking about getting your autumn/winter clothes out of storage and put your summer clothes away (or vice versa if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere). Here’s my tips for doing it in a way that looks after your clothes and enables you to think about your wardrobe for the coming seasons. #suzannedelahuntystylist
It’s almost time for the seasonal wardrobe switcheroo. Save post for reference. Start thinking about getting your autumn/winter clothes out of storage and put your summer clothes away (or vice versa if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere). Here’s my tips for doing it in a way that looks after your clothes and enables you to think about your wardrobe for the coming seasons. #suzannedelahuntystylist
It’s almost time for the seasonal wardrobe switcheroo. Save post for reference. Start thinking about getting your autumn/winter clothes out of storage and put your summer clothes away (or vice versa if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere). Here’s my tips for doing it in a way that looks after your clothes and enables you to think about your wardrobe for the coming seasons. #suzannedelahuntystylist
It’s almost time for the seasonal wardrobe switcheroo. Save post for reference. Start thinking about getting your autumn/winter clothes out of storage and put your summer clothes away (or vice versa if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere). Here’s my tips for doing it in a way that looks after your clothes and enables you to think about your wardrobe for the coming seasons. #suzannedelahuntystylist
It’s almost time for the seasonal wardrobe switcheroo. Save post for reference. Start thinking about getting your autumn/winter clothes out of storage and put your summer clothes away (or vice versa if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere). Here’s my tips for doing it in a way that looks after your clothes and enables you to think about your wardrobe for the coming seasons. #suzannedelahuntystylist
It’s almost time for the seasonal wardrobe switcheroo. Save post for reference. Start thinking about getting your autumn/winter clothes out of storage and put your summer clothes away (or vice versa if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere). Here’s my tips for doing it in a way that looks after your clothes and enables you to think about your wardrobe for the coming seasons. #suzannedelahuntystylist

It’s almost time for the seasonal wardrobe switcheroo. Save post for reference. Start thinking about getting your autumn/winter clothes out of storage and put your summer clothes away (or vice versa if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere). Here’s my tips for doing it in a way that looks after your clothes and enables you to think about your wardrobe for the coming seasons. #suzannedelahuntystylist

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