I used to flip through fashion magazines and longed for the day when I could find a reason to buy a cocktail dress or an evening gown. As the years went by, I reserved these items to a Pinterest board and never thought I would actually need them.
Flash forward to my mid-twenties when I began my career and unbeknownst to me, slowly found my imaginary lifestyle creeping its way slowly into real life.
My industry involves a lot of client, and networking events ranging from conferences, company hosted parties, luncheons, happy hour, client dinners, galas, etc., and for a very long time, I felt out of place and under-dressed, and dreaded these events.
I convinced myself that I simply didn't like going to these events so I 'didn't care' what I wore, but it wasn't until I got married in 2013 and had to purchase a full length evening gown and 2 cocktail dresses, that I actually figured out what the problem was.
In reality, I was dressed OK - OK, as in 'standard boring, not unprofessional but would never stand out in a crowd'. This was how I saw myself and it made me feel very uncomfortable and self-conscious. Instead of using these events to build my career, I just felt anxious for them to be over so I could leave.
The problem was that I was always scrambling to figure out what to wear to these events (not just work events, but all special events!). I would fret for days and try to go shopping but as shopping karma would have it - you will never find anything you're desperately looking for. Defeated, I would just try to look my best with what I had. It wasn't my actual outfit that made me feel uncomfortable, it was that I felt unprepared. It was like I was going into a proposal and hadn't done any due diligence. It completely blew my confidence.
After my wedding, I actually had dresses that were appropriate for these events - feeling the relief of already owning these items, and knowing how they fit me and not having to scramble to find them really gave me peace of mind and confidence and that really helped me to focus on my conversations and enjoy myself instead of worrying about how I looked.
After years of feeling stressed (yes it took my years to learn this) I've learned that my wardrobe is my arsenal and I wouldn't want to go to battle without all my weapons. That said, I also make sure to have the appropriate shoes and accessories because sometimes those little pieces add even more stress.