I remember it now like it was yesterday, but a year has come and gone. I was the new girl in a new job. Although I was young, my career had already experienced quite an evolution: from entry level work at a fast-growing, extremely secular video production company to a key cog in a well-established conservative Christian college. During that journey I had grown tremendously – personally, professionally, and spiritually; however, my first day at Altar’d State, a Christian owned clothing chain exploding onto the fashion scene, left me feeling inadequate in one very relevant area.

Fashion Mishap

All around me, men and women were sauntering by in the most fashion-forward and fun-loving ensembles I had seen in a while. Everyone looked put-together and perfect. When I began working on an assignment that involved our look book, I was even more horrified to discover that all of the models were store associates and home office employees! Instantly, I felt old, ugly, and so ill-dressed that I didn’t want to leave my cubicle. During my wonderful career transformation had my sense of style forgotten to follow along with it?

I had always considered myself to be fashionable, but now I began each morning worrying about what I was going to wear to work. How on earth was I going to write anything believable about fashion if I looked like someone’s 70-year-old crazy aunt?!?!?! And it didn’t stop at my clothing; I picked apart everything about my appearance and committed to fixing my (self-assessed) boring style. As the weeks went on, I continued to shop on my lunch breaks and slowly became busier and busier with my daily tasks. Luckily, with each day I became more engrossed in presenting great clothing to impressionable young women and less concerned with the impressions I was making on co-workers; who, by the way, already accepted me as I was.

Fashion with a Higher Purpose

Arguably the best distraction from my personal ‘Mission: Makeover’ was all the knowledge I was learning about the unique brands that I never knew existed. There were scarves that helped create sustainable business for women in Africa, shoes that offered a pair to a child with every purchase, t-shirts that donated money to tsunami victims, and bags that provided food to school children for a year. These were reasons to buy clothes! I began to see things in perspective. Why was I so concerned with how I dressed anyway? Was it really important to me what my shoes looked like when there were children who would be happy to have any pair of shoes? After some reflection on the matter, I decided that answer was no… and yes.

In the Grand Scheme of Things

As humans, we can find ourselves to be extremely vulnerable at times. If we let the pressures of the world weigh on us, we may begin questioning everything and anything about who we are. It is then that we need to stop and remember what is important. What are we really here to do? It was during this necessary reflection that I reminded myself that God loves me no matter what I am wearing. He has seen me though every phase of my fashion lifecycle and not one mistake or magnificent outfit has changed how I am in His eyes. Therefore, it should not be such a large matter in mine.

Dressing for You

However it is still very important for us, especially women, to feel confident in who we are. No matter how you slice it, what we wear is part of that. An outfit can set the tone for your entire day. It can give you confidence or play up insecurities. It can express a current mood or convey details of your personality. There is no doubt that what you wear can play a large role in how you interact with the world. So let your clothing be something you are comfortable with and take pride in. Not because of what others might think, but because of what your clothes mean to you. Wear a shirt because it makes you feel strong. Buy a scarf because you want to support women in Africa. Hang on to an ‘off-trend’ dress because you always feel pretty in it. The beautiful thing about fashion is that it can be personal and powerful. Remember, no matter what we wear, we are all perfect and beautiful in God’s eyes.

Over the past several months, my quest for a new me has shifted to a better focus. I am less concerned with how my daily outfits stack up to others, but more concerned with what I am doing each day in them. I have reached a point of settlement, understanding, and confidence in what I wear each day. I no longer think of my wardrobe as an area that needs work, but as part of my ability to be me: a grounded, appreciative, faith-focused person. This has been the best development in my journey so far.

Altar’d State:

Altar’d State is an energetic fashion boutique that differentiates itself through giving back and offers a distinctive shopping experience for women interested in the latest fashion finds, the most anticipated accessories and that next great gift. Whether she is 16 or 60, the common thread is her desire to share her personality through stylish, comfortable, on-trend clothes, shoes and accessories. Altar’d State customers can enjoy supporting an organization that promotes confidence, civic involvement and positivity through its merchandise and community involvement. Altar’d State is more than a store, it’s a movement. www.altardsate.com