Wear Your Colors: Create Inner Joy through Outer Expression

A few years ago I received an invitation to celebrate a dear friend and colleague's 50th birthday party.

The invitation said, "wear something fabulous." I was so excited. I started to think of all the things that I might possibly wear…and then I looked in my closet.

There was nothing fabulous in there. It was full of black and gray and navy, and jeans and t-shirts and hoodies.

Nothing fabulous in sight.

I got a little anxious and I felt a little sad, and almost a little paralyzed.

“Wear your colors” is now a part of my daily routine.

“Wear your colors” is now a part of my daily routine.

Because I'm the person that, when I was 13, wore crazy pigtails and glitter gel and bright lime green colored clothes.

And, when I was even younger than that, I was the tomboy that showed up barefoot in pants with a ponytail, while all the other girls had their nice little Oxford shoes and their lacy socks and their dresses.

Even in high school, when I had to wear a Catholic uniform, on the days where we got dress up for spirit, I would rip and paint and write on my clothes to express myself.

So, how had I ended up at 33 with a closet full of depressing black hoodies?

Maybe it was working in Chicago, where it's just a sea of people in a black uniform. Where the skies are gray and you get up and you go to work every day and you just think, "what's going to work for the day?”

And not, "what's going to make me feel alive?"

I decided in that moment that I needed to end the era of the hoodie.

I started with mindfulness.

When I went shopping, instead of gravitating towards the black or navy or solid colored neutral item that I would typically buy, I bought the graphic print or brightly colored item that I secretly always wanted but maybe thought was just a little bit “too much.”

I also started to wear bright colored lipstick, bigger jewelry and fancy, printed pants. Imagine.

At Daybreaker wearing all of my colors

At Daybreaker wearing all of my colors

I adopted a new mantra: "Wear Your Colors."

I stopped going to my closet every day thinking, “What am I going to wear? I have nothing to wear. Should I just pick another navy blue tank top?”

I would now show up to my closet and say, "What energy do I want to bring forth today?"

I noticed that it made me feel better. It made me feel a more alive.

It also had an impact on how I showed up for others. People started to comment on my bright attitude and my smile and the energy I brought into meetings that I otherwise hadn't before.

I talked to my dear friend, the one who invited me to that fabulous birthday party, about what I used to dress like and what I was starting to shift towards dressing like.

We talked about the impact of outer expression to create inner joy, and how that inner feeling can manifest joy for others outside of yourself.

Funnily enough, a few months later, that same friend started to show up at work in black and navy and gray.

I knew something was off. This is a woman that would come to work in a full monochromatic orange outfit head-to-toe, glasses to shoes. Bright orange or lime green or pink or purple.

Going through my own experience, I asked her, “What's going on? Did we switch roles?” Then, she shared with me that she didn’t feel that she was having the impact that she wanted, and that she was unsure if the things she was doing were meaningful.

Again, we returned to our original conversation. We talked about that if we want to create and manifest that outer expression and joy in what we're doing we need to return to wearing colors and showing up this way.

Then, my personal mantra became a shared mantra.

I would text her before meetings, “It's going to be a long meeting today. Make sure you wear your colors!” And she started to wear her colors again.

I want to spread this idea to other people.

If you're feeling low, if you go to your closet and it's full of the same old crap that brings you no life or energy, you're not going to SHOW UP with life or energy. It’s a self-reinforcing cycle.

If you want to create inner joy, start with something as simple as the outer expression of wearing your colors.

Start today:

  • How can you manifest inner joy through outer expression?

  • What color makes you feel alive?

  • Approach your closet with this question: What energy do you want to bring forth today?

If you enjoyed this article, please leave a comment below with your biggest takeaway.