What a difference a dress makes

A couple of weeks ago I bought 2 dresses, had a lovely time with a dear friend trying them on & then a few hours later couldn’t stop the tears flowing throughout a yoga class.

I think we can agree that crying for 75 minutes is an extreme reaction to buying dresses. It obviously wasn’t just about the dresses, but something much deeper. So, you might ask, what happened?

I’ve been wondering that myself & here’s what I’ve discovered.

Some background

Apart from a wedding 7 years ago, I haven’t worn a skirt or dress for at least 15 years. I wear trousers, shorts below the knee or leggings & comfortable shoes. This is my identity, who I am. I guess partly I got out of the habit & I also hate sandals & ‘uncomfortable’ shoes.

I won’t bore you with the whole story, but let’s just say that a conversation with a dear (& very stylish) friend made me realise how stuck I was. She encouraged me to break the ‘rules’ & to play. So here I am modelling 2 new dresses & a pair of Converse.

Why was I so emotional?

In my last blog I wrote about how much life can be controlled by wondering ‘what will people think? & encouraged you to let go of this & be yourself. Of course, these subjects are never as simple as can be explained in 1200 words & my recent experience brought home something which was lurking underneath for me.

It’s all about the story

I realised how much the ‘people’ was tied to my upbringing especially the ‘rules’ & beliefs I learned growing up & how these were unconsciously influencing me even though my parents are no longer around.

One of these was that any dress or skirt I wore would not be flowery & flowing & I would wear it with sandals, not white pumps. Of course, I’ve seen plenty of people wearing flowy dresses with white pumps, & it never crossed my mind that it could be me. My identity is to wear trousers. Trousers are comfortable & practical, why would I want to change?

Rules & beliefs are just stories & we all know that stories can be changed, even (especially) those which we believe define us.

But first we need to recognise it

For most of us, a lot of life is controlled by stories, we follow them because we believe they work & support us. But unless we do something different, how do we know?

The first step is to recognise them & then to question whether they’re helping, or whether they’re like ruts in the road which keep us moving in a particular direction without thinking or questioning whether it’s the right one.

How I dress is controlled by a number of stories I tell myself &, until my friend pointed it out, I hadn’t realised how much this particular rule/belief/story (whatever name you’d like to give it) was ruling my life.

Then let it go

Our conversation opened up the possibility of letting go of this story to make room for a new one. First, I dismissed the idea of change, then over a few days tested out options in my head, placed a couple of orders (after all when you order things online, they can always go back, right?) all the time telling myself that if it didn’t work out no one needed to know.

I reminded myself that I’ve changed stories in the past. The ‘old’ Lesley would never have worn leopard skin boots & bracelets & had her nails painted blue, she wouldn’t have become a published author & appeared on the Radio & in magazines & she certainly wouldn’t have loved yoga. What if this was another example?

The promise I made to myself this year to try new experiences was also on my mind, what I wear hadn’t been on my radar, but why couldn’t it be?

To make space for a new story

Having let go of the old story of wearing only trousers, I am open to new possibilities, of making my own decisions about what to wear & not following rules made by others. I will enjoy wearing both my new dresses & won’t be dispensing with trousers so like me, this new story will continue to evolve.

And yes, I know I’m a bit late to Summer, but better late than never & there will always be holidays 😉

Which feels happier than the old one

A friend asked how I feel wearing a dress & my answer was ‘joyous, free, happy & excited to try new possibilities.’ Which is exactly how life should be, don’t you think?

But what about those ‘people’, what will ‘THEY’ think?  

As I wrote earlier, the added layer for me is that these ‘rules’ were made my Mum & changing them feels like a betrayal to what she taught me. But honestly, all my parents wanted was for me to be happy & if wearing dresses & white pumps makes me happy, that’s what they would want me to do.

So what about you dear reader, where can you see yourself in my story?

On the surface this appears to be a story about dresses, but at the core it’s about what unconscious stories we’re telling ourselves or rules we’re following which are keep us stuck & how liberating it feels when we let them go.

Maybe you can already see yourself in my story & you already know that there are places where you are stuck. Or, like me perhaps you may need the encouragement of a friend.

I encourage you to ask yourself, how would your life change if you started telling yourself a different story?

Thank you for reading. I’d love to know your reaction so please add a comment below.

I took Inspiration from John Kirkwood’s book, The Way of the Five Seasons, Mimi Kuo Deemer’s book Qigong & the Tai Chi axis, Gail Reichstein, Wood becomes Water, Chinese Medicine in Everyday Life & Emma Peel’s teaching & training.

You can read book reviews and interviews I’ve done here.
And you can order your copy of Finding Joy Beyond Childlessness on  Amazon UK  and Amazon USA

5 thoughts on “What a difference a dress makes”

  1. This is brilliant!! I am sooo pleased for you. I’ve always loved clothes/fashion & all my life had long golden blonde hair. When I had my hysterectomy due to endometriosis I lost my confidence and my way… I gave up, stopped caring as much about myself, but also felt I lost my identity. I never realised just how much ‘a dress’ can make a difference to your confidence until then. It took a while to write my new story but the pivotal moment was cutting off my long honey blonde hair and going for a platinum pixie cut!! I knew that some people would maybe attach a negative narrative to that but I did it anyway. I can safely say it felt like step 1 of the new me, chapter 1 of a new story…. I love it!! I haven’t looked back and have reinvented myself with a new style that is an evolvement of the old & it has genuinely helped me to look in the mirror and love the woman with no womb, no ovaries, no appendix and scars that looks back at me. You look fab in those dresses btw, & converse are always a winner!

    • Thanks for sharing Emma, isn’t it interesting how making one change can make a big difference & embark us on a new story. Well done firstly for making the change & also for recognising & understanding the significance.

  2. You look fabulous in the dresses Lesley. I need to start telling myself a new story around work…. This needs exploring. Thank you for the blog post.

    • Thanks Fiona, good luck with your new story. Maybe small steps will be the thing, or perhaps a big leap.. you will know which is the right one for you.

  3. That colour really suits you Lesley and those dresses look super on you! You’re so right about how our lives are controlled by the stories we tell ourselves and worrying about what people will think, which I’ve been at the mercy of for most of my life really. As I’ve got older I definitely feel less worried about people and it’s been such a relief! Also, if we’re supposedly more ‘invisible’ as we get older, it makes me think – ‘well if no one is looking anyway, I can do what I like really!!’ It works both ways, doesn’t it?!
    Love the blogs, very thought provoking!


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