Tomorrow I'm headed to Salt Lake city for a week of fabulous fabulousness at THE lifestyle blogger conference: Altitude Design Summit. Last January when I'd only been running Dean Street Society for about five months, I was suddenly aware that everyone cool I followed on Twitter was at something called #AltSummit. Ev.Ery.One. So I'm pinching myself I get to attend this year.
But then as Alt got nearer ... nerves set in. Parties full of awesomely awesome girls. Will I know anyone? Will I be awkward? All these cool brands are there. Will I act natural? Will they like me? You know, that same insecurity we all faced about the first day of school since we were six. (I cried every single day of first grade in London when my mom left.)
And then it reached another level. There were classes: What to Wear to Alt. There were blog posts: What to Wear to Alt. There were Pinterest boards: What to Wear to Alt. Suddenly my colorful, patterned, jam-packed professional stylist closet started to look woefully inept. Sure these things look cute in everyday life, but will they be that "wow" in a room full of the chicest most darling girls in the country? How do I dress for 3 degrees outside & non-snowman-puffer inside? Even though I just got all these new clothes for Christmas should I put in a rush order to buy something new? And ...
I seriously had to shut it down. The insecurity polka. It goes round & round, faster & faster like a posessed carousel until you want to throw-up. I was taking in one of the above classes/blogs/tweets & literally said aloud, "No. Not doing it."
I went to brunch with Bestie & said, "I've decided I'm not going to win best dressed at Alt. Even though rumor has it that might be an actual competition at some parties. I'm just not entering. I'm not packing to win. I'm packing to be confident. To communicate my brand. To be the best version of myself, authentic, comfortable in my own skin. I know people don't like me because I'm the best dressed. It's a lie. And I'm calling it's bluff. Me & my current closet are going to be enough."
And I went home to pack, & low & behold came up with super cute outfits! They might not be best dressed. But that wasn't the bar I was setting. I actually had fun packing because I just flat out refused to let myself get stressed.
Now let me very clearly say: Not one of those marvelous gals who taught, wrote, currated those "What to Wear to Alt" gatherings is at fault. They're doing exactly what my heart is to do here on Dean Street Society every day: Help. They wanted to make it easier, take the guesswork out, decrease the stress. And I'm sure for some bettys it was the most brilliant gift ever! They left that class/post/board feeling so empowered & inspired & educated!
That just wasn't the affect it had on me. As someone who "should" already know how to dress, it put pressure on me that if everyone was stepping up their game, as the "professionally stylish person" then I clearly had to knock it out of the park. It was my inner monologue. My insecurities. My assumptions, fears, expectations.
And I chose no.
Whether it's the high school reunion, work Christmas party, or dinner soiree thrown by your always-looks-like-a-model friend -- you can say no. No to the inner voice that it's a competition. That your options are win or lose.
If you're a part of Dean Street Society then I know you have or are on your way to having the wisdom, clarity & creativity to put together outfits that exude confidence. You're competing against no one. You're just showing up as the best version of you. And that will always be enough.
And even if there is a prize. And even if you do win. Wouldn't everyone secretly rather win Miss Congeniality than Best Evening Gown?
Even a stylist knows that people don't love us because of what we look like on the outside. And even a stylist needs to remind herself of that every now & again.
Having said that, I've packed more pairs of shoes for 6 days in Utah than I did for 6 weeks in London. So fellow Alt-ettes, let's party & Smilebooth it up! To paraphrase from the Obama Campaign, "Packed up! Ready to go!"
P.S. When's the last time you felt extra pressure to show up especially well dressed? What happened once you got to the event? Would you have done anything differently in hindsight?