A Chic Awakening:
How Your Clothes Affect Your Life

“I believe that my clothes can give people a better image of themselves – that it can increase their feelings of confidence and happiness.”
-Giorgio Armani

“I feel so frumpy at work,” Leanne said to me during a coaching call.

“I don’t take the time to dress up anymore,” she continued.

I asked, “Why don’t you take the time?”

At that moment, I looked down at my flannel pajamas and noticed my coffee breath.

I glanced at the clock.


My mind instantly flashed to the feeling of shame that I would feel on any given afternoon, when the UPS man would bust me at 2 o’clock in the afternoon, still wrapped up in my robe, looking like I had the flu.

Then I thought about Ma (my grandmother). I knew better.

She lived alone in a little trailer in North Carolina on Rough-N-Ready Road (I kid you not!). She woke up every morning, said her prayers, put on dress and fixed her bun (those were the days when women went to the beauty salon once a week to have their hair styled for the week). She was always ready, but never rough!

I can’t remember a time that I came over at noon to find her still hanging out in her pajamas. She always took pride in how she looked. There were days that no one came by, but she knew something.

It wasn’t about others. It was how she felt about herself.

I had my chic awakening.

That was the day I said, “No more.”

While it may not seem like a big deal to get up and get dressed when you’re home alone (because who’s going to see you, right?), it’s impacted every area of my life. Most importantly, it’s affected the relationship with myself.

You get to know who you truly are when you’re all alone and no one’s watching. And, truth be told, I didn’t like how I was showing up for myself.

During that call with Leanne, I knew I was out of character. I wasn’t being the woman I wanted to be.

Sure, I’d dress up to meet friends for dinner or anytime I thought I may run into another human being, but at home alone, I looked like a bad lady.

Isn’t it fascinating how we’ll put in the effort

to dress up for others but not ourselves?
{Click to Tweet}

Yet, there I was coaching women around living their lives like a work of art, while I looked like I’d been spray painted with carelessness.

While no one saw me (except for that poor UPS man, bless his heart), I saw me. And, I did not like what I was seeing.

That’s when I realized that I wanted to be the kind of woman who impresses herself, not others.

Now, regardless of whether I’m sitting at home on the phone working with clients or walking the streets of Paris, I put in the effort to look my best.

I don’t get all decked to the nines in Dior to clean the house or work out of my home office. But, I do shower, put on something that feels comfortable and beautiful and show up in a way that pleases me.

(And, yes, I still have the occasional loungewear day, but it’s a choice, not a habit. I like to think of it as “Casual Fridays” at the office.)

Since being more intentional in how I dress (and therefore feel) and stopped wearing pajamas to work,

My business has grown tremendously.

I’ve become a better coach (dare I say, one of the best).

It’s been easier to maintain my weight.

My confidence has increased.

I’m happier.

Can I attribute this to simply showing up for myself when it comes to my clothes? I think it’s a big part of it, because it’s about more than the clothes. It’s about showing up as the woman you desire to be in all areas of your life.

Your style tells your story one outfit at a time.

My old pattern was to wake up and think, “I don’t feel so hot today.” I’d proceed to wearing something that told that story.

These days, I love to ask myself things like…

How do I want to feel today?
What would the best life coach on the planet wear today?
What would Oprah wear today?

Questions like those have taken me from feeling frumpy to chic!

Instead of waking up and choosing clothes to match where you are, choose clothes that represent where you want to be.

Everything is energy.

Yes, including the clothes you wear.

If you want to know what kind of energy they hold, ask yourself: How do I feel in this?

(By the way, if you love hanging out in your pajamas until dinner or wearing baggy clothes to work and you feel fabulous doing it, I say: “Rock ON!”)

Treat everything as if it matters, because it does.

It doesn’t matter if you are cleaning your toilet or talking to a boardroom of top executives.

Take the time to do it with pride and passion.

Show up in your life as the woman you desire to be.

Decide on purpose.

Personally, I want to live with joy, style and passion. I want to go to bed feeling like I gave this day all I’ve got.

Admittedly, sometimes my best is no makeup, yoga pants and a sweatshirt. But, the difference is that it’s a choice I make, not habit. For me, too many days in Lululemon, and I start to feel rather blah.

How you feel influences what your actions and your actions are creating your life.

So, feeling inspired, joyful, confident or (insert your most effective emotion here) is important.

When you take the time to look and feel your best, regardless of who’s watching, magical things begin to happen.

Remember, you’re doing this for you, not for anyone else. So, if wearing no-makeup and sporting a cute pair of jeans and t-shirt is your style, then wear it. This is not about dressing for anyone other than you.

Here are some prompts:

How do I want to feel today?

How would a <insert your dream job position here > dress?

How would <insert your biggest inspirational character here >  dress?

Then, use your answer to choose your next outfit.

Here are some of my client results who started dressing with intention:

Weight loss.
Job promotions.
Increased salary.
Hot, steamy marriages.
Found their lover.
Business growth.
More joy and confidence.

The moral of this story:

Show up for your life…and do it in your own unique style.

Whatever you choose to do, go all in.

And, in the famous words of Yves Saint Laurent, “Passion is the best makeup.”

I’m just sayin.


JOIN THE CHIC CONVERSATION BELOW: Have you noticed your clothes impacting how you feel about yourself and life? I’d love to hear about your positive and not-so-positive experiences in the comments section below.

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17 Responses to A Chic Awakening:
How Your Clothes Affect Your Life

  1. Hi Tonya,
    My grandmother was the same way as yours. She was always attentive to her appearance. I’ve slacked off in that area – quite a bit, unfortunately.
    You’re so right! Staying in my nightgown until 3 pm isn’t helping me get out “Frump Queen” mode and it isn’t the lifestyle I want.
    We are worth the effort – in our appearance and every other area of our lives.
    Love your posts!

      • Hi Tonya,

        I agree that we need to do these things for ourselves but sometimes it is a slow process, sometimes we don’t have the financial means at the time so we need to build up to it all. How do we still feel lovely and chic when we can’t go out and buy amazing clothes and perhaps just buy one small thing a month???

        Thank you for this amazing journey you are assisting us with. xxx

  2. Hi Tonya,
    I completely understand what you mean by dressing not according to how we feel but how we want to feel. Not too long ago I used to spend my days dressed in a t-shirt and pyjamas and I felt tired all the time. Ever since i’ve started dressing in the mornings i feel fresh all day. It’s easier to get my chores done and then relax afterwards with a book or tea.
    I love your posts. They are so inspiring. I am slowly starting to convince myself that it is okay invest on myself instead of just pleasing others. Thank you so much. <3

    • Bonjour Tonya
      Yes! Totally agree. I have worked from home for a number of years and always out makeup on and get dressed smartly. Some days I end up staying in my dog walking gear, but I always always have my lippy on.
      I went through breast cancer 6 years ago and chemo. And even with the hair loss and feeling dreadful I still made an effort. Sure there were days when I was so sick even showering was an effort. But for the most part, I fought back with lippy on!
      Chemo days I made an extra effort. I’d dress in something pretty and always have the brightest lippy on. I met 2 other courageous women at chemo. We become firm friends.one had already adapted the dress smart and lippy fight. We encouraged our other buddy. The nurses said the 3 of us were a breath of fresh air! Yes, we weren’t “feeling” our best, but we put on a front and somehow it helped kick cancers butt!!
      I strongly believe – if you feel good about yourself the rest will follow. Do it for you!
      Thanks Tonya. ♡

      • Oh Kim,

        I loved reading your story.

        I’m certain that you dressing up impacted your healing.

        Everything is energy, right?

        I don’t know if you know this, but I was a critical care nurse for many years, and I was always impressed and inspired by women who, even in the face of a diagnosis, put in the effort to feel their best.


        • I finished chemo in September. I always tried to smile, act cheerful, ask the nurses how they were, and even pray with other patients. Caring about others even when we are hurting is so important! PraiseI will live and not die and declare the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Psalm 118 I tried to look nice, but the most important thing was that I tried to smile and share the love of Jesus.Please spread sunshine!

      • Unfortunately I see this all the time. Not to point out anyone but in general it makes me crazy when new moms no longer take care of themselves after having children. Always in sweats hair all crazy and no make up and they all say the same thing ” I don’t have time”. My reaction is always if you don’t take care of yourself you can’t take of anyone else. So take the time ladies you deserve it.

    • Hi Areeb,

      Thanks for sharing your experience.

      I have found the same to be true. I am MORE productive when I’m dressed well.

      Fascinating, isn’t it?


  3. Your posts are always so timely! I found myself slipping a bit. It was just ‘more comfortable’ to put on oversized clothes. A few months ago, I started a new workout regime and have lost those pesky 10 pounds. Now – I am worth it. Worth massages, dressing well, nourishing my body with fresh/healthy ingredients. The result is not only do I FEEL better, I am finally becoming the best version of myself. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your words of wisdom and the beautiful way you share it!

    • Oh, yes. You ARE worth it, Talia. I am so glad that what I share resonates with you, so you can live with daily joie de vivre!

  4. Thanks for the timely post, Tonya! I just started working from home, following a move last week to the beautiful coast of Baja California. But I found that the combination of working alone in a home office and dealing with crazy-humidity hair (LOL) has meant that my whole daily upkeep has slid to flu-like levels — zero make-up, jeans, flipflops and a messy bun. And I just don’t feel like my best self. Taking the time this afternoon to pull out a silk shirt and some cute sandals. I appreciate the inspiration!

      • Hi Tonya and Fellow FKL Ladies,

        I work in a dog kennel and sometimes it is difficult to wear clothes that make me feel good about myself as I have to be aware of getting covered in mud and drool. (Eww!) I do have pajamas that make me feel more feminine or wear lingerie that makes me feel special. At the moment that is all I can do for myself. I am hoping one day to have my personal business up and running so I can dress as I want. I try baby steps by getting my nails done, even though they don’t last long because of the critters. I try to keep it more of a mindset than a physical manifestation. It does help. 😘🍷

  5. I think one of your podcasts I love the most was “Are you living a double life”. Funny that I came across this article, which somehow tells the same story exactly today. After having listened to the podcast I decided to do something about the clothes I wear at home – especially that one pair of pants I used to love, but had for 3 years already. Yes it had holes in it and I still wore it! So today was the day I woke up, went to my closed and decided: I am not putting them on anymore. Instead I drove in the city and bought myself a really nice pair of home pants (and two pair of LOVELY pijamas). So now I am happily sitting at my desk in my new pants and am happy to read this….cause I already made the first step.
    P.S: the old pair of pants has also left my home today after all the years…

  6. Women of the past always seemed to have a great approach to their day. I look at women in the 40s and 50s. They seemed so together. How did us modern women lose that?
    I began to write out a list called… The person I want to be, and I have been making it my goal to get rid of my bad habits and be that person I want to be…just for me. It has made a huge change in my life for the better. Thank you for your great article.

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