Can Slowing Down Make You More Stylish?

Being busy means we wear the same no-brainers over and over. A challenge: clear out and try some old faves...

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‘I’m too busy to be stylish.’

‘I’m overwhelmed. I have no idea where to begin, so I wear the same things over and over.’

I hear this so often from people that I work with.

Too time poor.

Too full on with everything else in my life to be bothered with how I look.

I tell you all this because I recently style coached an amazing woman who had just retired from a career in medicine. Now that she had less work demands and fewer dressing restrictions, she wanted to make time to be stylish.

We talked through what she’d love to wear if she took the time to slow down, think about it and prepare.

Simply taking some time out to clear out her heaving wardrobe made it easier to be creative with what she wore. (‘I forgot I had this!’ she says excitedly, pointing out a gorgeous top).

Slowing down to notice how she wanted to feel – and what that might look like as clothes – gave her new direction in getting dressed.

‘Too busy’ often puts us on style auto-pilot.

It nixes our sense of playfulness.

Fun gets consumed by functional.

The good news is we don’t need to wait till retirement to be stylish.

Something I’ve learned from my ultra-organised partner is that busy-ness is no excuse for clothing overwhelm. It’s all in the planning.

He takes regular stock of his wardrobe – and because that stock-taking is so regular, it never takes all weekend. Garments are tossed, replaced and weeded out seasonally. This means that getting dressed becomes a pleasure, and everything gets worn.

Taking the time for a proper clear out is a great first step to being more stylish.

Last weekend I sold 41 garments on eBay. With my closet looking scarily sparse, I started to see new possibilities with what I had left.

I decided to try some pieces that I hadn’t worn in a while. I slowed down. I took some time to find new ways to wear some of these old friends that were taking up precious wardrobe real estate.

In her new book, Mind What You Wear: The Psychology of Fashion, Dr. Karen Pine talks about the potential mood uplift of wearing something different. Dr. Pine’s research points to the rut-busting and associated mood boosting potential of consciously wearing something different over a period of two weeks.

Following her research, I’ve spent the last fortnight reacquainting myself with some old sartorial flames.

I’ve taken time to plan instead of reaching for my current faves on auto-pilot. You know that old chestnut about how the Pareto principle applies to our wardrobes? Well, I’m going exploring in the 20% I don’t wear, 80% of the time.

Today I created a new look with an old Zara jacket I was about to sell on eBay, and remembered how much I love it.

Yesterday I wore a top that had never seen the light of day.

I wore an old blazer to see a client.

‘Wow, I love what you’re wearing,’ she said when she saw me. ‘Is that new?’

I admit to walking with a bit more spring in my step.

Actually, I’ve relished the challenge of dressing in something from the little-worn part of my wardrobe during these past days. It’s been fun!

I don’t feel too busy to make an effort once I’ve decided my best self is worth dressing for. Frankly, it takes just as long to dress on auto-pilot as it does to make a little effort. Ultimately, it’s a shift of headspace.

Now it’s your turn.

What happens when YOU clear out, and then slow down to rediscover some pieces that you haven’t loved up in a while?

How does it make you feel? Do share!

Can't get enough of style? (Me either!). Hang out with me on @mandylehto and at

Dr. Mandy Lehto

Coach, Presence Expert, Courage-Builder, Possibilitarian,

Hey gorgeous! Have we met? I'm Dr. Mandy Lehto, speaker, coach and writer who helps amazing people get out of their own way already. Nearly ten years ago, I waved adios to my senior investment banking job in London to help as many people as possible start living their un-lived lives. Nowadays, I spend a disturbing amount of time thinking about overcoming fear and the obstacles we place in our own way (we are bizarre creatures, aren't we?). If being braver, a bit more bonkers, and living on purpose is your thing too (squeal!), lets hang out here, and come for green tea over at mine on


Go to the profile of Helen Bunker
over 7 years ago
Great reminder Mandy. I was just starting to get clothes out for my holiday (in 2 weeks), on one of the hottest days of the year, and caught myself thinking 'why don't I wear 'holiday clothes' when I'm at home'? Why indeed and so I did and the holiday mood descended to London! I needed a nudge. Thank you!
Go to the profile of Dr. Mandy Lehto
over 7 years ago
Small world, Helen! I've been doing the same thing with my entire holiday wardrobe - well, almost all of it. No bikinis in Sainsburys, thankfully. Mood boost guaranteed. Glad you're feeling playful with your clothes!
Go to the profile of Loh Yuen Yen
over 7 years ago
Thanks Dr.Mandy! That's inspiring!
Go to the profile of Dr. Mandy Lehto
over 7 years ago
Glad you stopped in Loh Yuen Yen. I hope you'll try some old favourites and stop in and tell us how it went!