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Hand-Me-Down Beliefs

September 23, 2019

Hand-Me-Downs: Not Just for Clothes

I am now on my second listen of Marie Forleo’s new book, Everything is Figureoutable (I love Audible), and while there were so many nuggets of wisdom in her book, there was a specific topic that really jumped out at me: hand-me-down beliefs.

Everything is Figureoutable, Marie Forleo, hand-me-down beliefs
Marie Forleo, Everything is Figureoutable

In the chapter, “The Magic of Belief”, Marie discusses the concept of “hand-me-down beliefs”. Hand-me-down beliefs are ideas that are passed down, with the best of intentions. They can influence many different areas of your life, and you believe them, because they’re usually told to you by your loved ones. But, then you grow, change, and evolve, and you start to feel some dissonance surrounding these beliefs. You might realize that they’re not yours, and they actually don’t apply to you. As soon as I heard about “hand-me-down beliefs”, I immediately felt the connection to style rules.

Hand-Me-Down Beliefs You’ve Heard Before

Let’s list some of style/fashion rules, that I’m sure you’ve heard as a hand-me-down belief.

  1. You can’t wear white after Labor Day. (Read this post to see my thoughts on that one.)
  2. You can only wear horizontal stripes if you’re tall and thin.
  3. You should dress yourself strictly based on your body type.
  4. Women over the age of ______ can’t wear ______.
  5. Nylons/tights must be worn to look professional.
  6. Uggs are the ideal footwear for fall (you know how I feel about that one…)
  7. You can’t mix black and blue/black and brown/red and pink/green and blue. (If you’ve watched my webinar, you know the real truth.)
  8. Your shoes have to match your belt, or your purse has to match your shoes.

You probably heard even more rules that were specific to your body, culture, or family. While these hand-me-down beliefs can absolutely help give you a starting point to create your own style, it’s normal to reach a point, where they no longer apply.

Think about it, your life changes, your body changes, and your career may change too. You can’t expect those rules to apply consistently, when your life doesn’t remain consistent. Consider any other kind of hand-me-down, whether it’s a belief, clothing, or furniture – at some point, you may want to replace it with something you chose on your own.

I hear grown women tell me, “I can’t wear that, because they said (fill in hand-me-down belief here…)” If our supreme goddess, Lizzo has taught us anything, it is to love yourself in all your beauty, and show up as you.

When Rules Help

As a personal stylist, do I give women rules to follow while we’re shopping? Yes. They’re not terribly strict rules, but I do provide guidance for them, so that they can have efficiency in their morning routine. The rules are also specific to them as an individual, which is exactly how you should take on style advice (or any advice in life). Take what applies to you and what feels good, and let the rest pass you by.

As soon as you start focusing on how you feel in an outfit, and you care less about what hypothetical judgements you will receive, the more confident you will be able to enter situations in your life.

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  1. Fern says:

    I just love you! I heard most of those rules growing up and my favorite to break is white after Labor Day. Shopping with you is fun. The rule about no negative comments while trying on clothes is the only one I remember, and it’s a good one.

  2. Kristen says:

    Great advice! Previous generations have had a lot of weird hang ups and traditions that aren’t so relevant now. Love the way y ou think!

    • susanpadron says:

      Yes, I totally agree! It’s interesting to see the evolution of the thought around fashion “rules”! Thanks so much!

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