Today I’m interviewing Elysha Lenkin, a former fashion editor turned personal stylist with a holistic twist. Elysha’s got a great focus on developing your individual style and really using getting dressed as a way to discover and express who you are at your core. And I wanted to talk to her because as we re-emerge, our clothing actually is a great vehicle for expressing who we are now–everything we’ve learned and the ways we’ve changed and grown as a result of the pandemic.
And frankly, since we’ve been inside wearing sweat pants for a year now, something we might be feeling a little rusty about. So let’s get her guidance so that we can come out of this feeling great and refreshed, inside and out.
Listen to the Podcast Here:
Elysha, welcome! When you and I were chatting before the interview, we bonded over our yoga background. We both have practiced for years and did our teaching training. And you were telling me how your approach to styling incorporates a lot of yogic principles. Can you tell us how getting dressed is like a spiritual practice?
Yes. Well like any spiritual practice, it is about the intention that you put behind it. So you could go to a yoga class and just move through the poses and maybe get a sweaty workout. Or you can be more intentional with the way that you want to move your body and what you want to put into the yoga practice. So getting dressed is the same thing. It’s an opportunity to be more intentional so that you can have more personal growth in the form of self-awareness and self-acceptance.
So in a yoga class, if the instructor says, okay, we’re going to go into crow pose. Now you might be thinking, Ugh, I do not want to go into Crow pose. That hurts my upper arms. I don’t feel like it. That is an opportunity to raise yourself awareness and to stay with it. Right? To stay with it and really get curious about what’s going on here. Why am I so resistant to getting into this Crow pose? Right? And it may even lead you to an opportunity for self acceptance. Where you realize that, you know what, the reason that I don’t really want to go in crow right now is because my triceps are killing me because of what I was doing yesterday. I’m just going to modify a little bit and go into this version of the position, right?
And getting dressed. It’s it’s the same opportunity for, for personal growth and self-awareness and hopefully even self-acceptance. Because what happens is, often I see this with a lot of women with my clients is they get dressed and right away just like the resistance to crow pose. They look at themselves and like, Oh, I look terrible. I don’t have anything that looks good on me. I feel frumpy. So that’s an opportunity, right? To stay with it. But not stay with it in this place of misery. When you want to raise yourself awareness, you want to get curious.
So you want to look at what’s really going on here. Why am I getting so feeling so resistant to, to these clothes, right? So you want to look a little closer. Maybe it’s the fabric is itchy. Maybe it’s that the waistband is just digging into your skin, right? Or maybe it’s the way that your curves are looking at you in your reflection, right? And this is where you want to get really curious and think, what do my curves really look like? Because I see this so often. So many women, what they see in the reflection is not what other people are seeing. Right?
So for example, I have a client who it was with her curves on her hips. And when we first started working together, she just thought she looked big and heavy. And a lot of her clothes were very form fitting. So she needs to either change up her silhouettes or change the way she sees herself. And that’s a lot of the work that we did together. I looked at the pictures of her in these form fitting clothes, where her curves were highlighted. She looked beautiful. She looked beautiful this way. And she was able to start seeing herself differently. Yes, my perspective definitely encouraged this shift and how she saw herself. But now when I asked her, what do you want to highlight on your body? And she says, I want to highlight that hip to waist curve. Right?
So it’s that self-awareness that hopefully can bring you to a form of self-acceptance right? And then like my client, she’s actually now celebrating this hip to waist curve that she wants to highlight in her clothes. So getting dressed, it can be your spiritual practice when you bring in intention and it can give you a beautiful opportunity to raise your self awareness and encourage self acceptance.
I love that so much. Thanks for sharing that story with us. So we are collectively in a time of transition, right? We’ve got the change of seasons and hopefully, you know, we’re all really hopeful that this is the end of the worst year of the coronavirus pandemic. So how can changing up what we wear now, help us make this transition with grace?
So even though this is a happy transition, transitions are still hard. It’s like, we feel awkward. We feel like we leave the house dressed for summer, but the wind blows and it’s like 40 degrees. And also I kind of always feel like I’m a mole emerging for the first time in the spring. I feel very discombobulated by the sunlight. How can we help ourselves feel steady and excited and good?
I completely understand what you’re saying, Kate about feeling like the mole . In New York city, when we would have those first warm days and I would see the women coming out in their little breezy, spring dresses, bare legs and sandals. And it’s like, you know, maybe it’s 55? And I’m always wondering, you know, how do they do that? It takes me a little bit longer to ease into it. So especially coming out of the pandemic, we’ve changed so much in this past year. We just are not the same people that we were. When I think back to who I was, what I was wearing, how I was showing up in January of 2020, it is so different than how I feel right now.
So the first thing that you need to do is you need to notice what’s changed, right? What going on? What do you have in you have in your wardrobe that’s just not resonating anymore? I look at some of my shoes and I’m starting to think like, Hmm, not so sure about those. Right?
So our clothes have a job to do. Our clothes, need to support us. Okay? So you need to think about how are my clothes going to support me. Right? So we’ve got our external situations that we need our clothes to support us with. And that has to do with things like weather, location, environment. And then we’ve got our internal ways that our clothing needs to support us. I call these the styling non-negotiables, right. So there’s the external situations, and then there’s the internal. And when we look at the internal, this has to do with, how do I want to feel?
So I know for certain, for me, my toleration for discomfort is just like zero tolerance. I have zero tolerance for discomfort anymore. Like, my bras all felt a little tight. So like wireless bras, I’m actually doing a lot of those cammies, those shell cammies right now. Right. So you really just want to get clear about what has changed for you. Because your styling, non-negotiables, they’re fluid, they’re dynamic, they shift and change as you do, right. As seasons change, as your lifestyle changes.
So just take some time and again, get intentional. Think about what do you need your clothes to do to support you so that you can feel comfortable and you can feel like the best version of yourself as you reimburse. So think about your clothes as an opportunity to support you. And then let go of the things that aren’t doing that.
Man, I’m all about purging these days. Thank you for just reinforcing that instinct. So lately getting dressed has been pretty monotonous. It’s like, do I want to wear this hoodie with those sweat pants? Or maybe should I wear this other hoodie with those other sweatpants? So how can we start to mix things up and still let it be easy?
Because the last thing we need is to put a lot of like cognitive lift into thinking about, you know, what we’re going to wear. Because we’re just recuperating from having so much on our minds. And nobody wants to leave the house looking like they’ve just had a misadventure in their closet. Like what’s a good kind of go-to routine for getting dressed and right now?
Yeah. Make it easy. I’m all about make it easy. So that’s a mindset. So you can just start with that right there. This is going to be fun. This is going to be easy. That’s the first thing you can do. And then I would suggest, start with what you have. Right? Before you run out, like I got to get the new spring clothes and make the updates. It’s going to 65 tomorrow. Right? So before you run out to make your updates, look at what you have. Start there. Sometimes the clothes that you have as they are right now, they may not work in the way you want to. So you want to think about freshening them up, breathing new life into them.
One of my favorite practices when you want to mix up your clothes in a fresh and dynamic way, I call it the sweet and salty technique. And that is where you want to think about creating dynamic opposition in your clothes. So for example, if normally when the weather gets warm, you start thinking about wearing your maxi dresses, right? What could you wear that would feel a little bit different and to really shake things up and make it feel fresh, right?
So if a maxi dress, if it feels very feminine, then I would go to the masculine energy. What do I have in my wardrobe that’s masculine? Now. I have all these blazers that I haven’t worn for a year because they felt too formal for my work at home life. But now if I put that blazer with this fun, feminine dress, it’s going to feel completely different, right? So you think about mixing up your clothes and creating a dynamic opposition. So that means bringing in opposites. And you get to play around with whatever those opposites may be.
That’s so brilliant. I am totally going to remember that, the sweet and the salty. Great. Now you mentioned earlier that some things are not working for us anymore. Like those shoes that you’re looking at and starting to question. What’s your guidance on knowing what to get rid of? Because I think a lot of us are feeling like I’m ready to get rid of everything and just start over and that’s not necessary. And it’s also just kind of brings its own drama.
Yeah. It definitely can bring in its own drama. And we are trying to reduce as much drama as possible. My advice, first and foremost, is to make closet clearing a practice. So this is something, it’s like a muscle that you can start to develop. And then you get very skillful at doing that. When you start to just make it a practice, something that you do regularly, right? It could just be a couple items here and there. Okay. So that’s the first thing I’m going to suggest.
The next thing I want to suggest is that you want to use your body to guide you. Now, this brings my yoga philosophy back into the picture. Because your body always speaks the truth. So you really want to create a healthy relationship with your body so that you can trust it. Because your body’s always going to guide you to your best choices. Alright? So this is not something that may come easily to everyone right away. But as with every practice, when you continue at it, you will develop this skill. So listen to your body and get the guidance that your body gives you.
Now, if you’ve got a specific piece that you’re questioning, put it on. Put it on and plan to wear it for that day. You put it on and then you’re going to tune in, how am I feeling right now? Am I feeling kind of tense and feeling constricted? That’s usually a, no. That means this isn’t working, when you feel tense and constricted. And if you start to feel more open and alive and expansive, that’s your sign that, yes, this is still working for me. So, listen to your body for guidance and then put on whatever piece you’re questioning and then go from there. See what your body tells you because your body will always guide you to your best choices.
I love that your style guidance encourages folks to have fun with their style. So what’s a great way to make sure your outfit expresses your personality?
Well, you want to be really clear about your personality. You want to be clear about how you want to feel and what it is that you want to express, right? So that requires some self-examination. And I love to come up with a few words. I call these the North Star words. When I think about how I want to feel in my clothes and what do I want to express? I articulate that in three words. Right? Maybe it’s quirky. Maybe it’s warm, maybe it’s edgy or creative, right?
So then you have these words to guide you. And then once you have those words, then you look at your wardrobe. You look at your closet, your accessories. And which of these pieces, which of these items is going to help me feel more perky, warm, creative, edgy, right? So those words really serve as a North Star for you. And again, guiding you to make better choices.
So here’s the thing, it’s your personal style. You get to decide how you want to look, how you want to feel. You decide if this garment or accessory is going to help you feel more of that aspect of your personality. So that’s what you’re expressing to the world, right? I encourage you to get dressed based on how you want to feel and think less about what others are going to think about you. So really dress to express those aspects of your personality that you love. And you want to share with the world.
I love how much thought you’ve put into all your style advice. And for folks who are loving what you’re saying also, where can they go to get more from you?
Well, the best place is my website, elyshalenkin.com. I have so much valuable style advice that is just going to help you feel more confident in your clothes. And right now, specifically I am offering a group styling program. This is a 90 day style refresh where a group of amazing women who are all saying yes to themselves, they’re all coming together in community with the focus of re-emerging with the spring.
We are going to think about how do we want to look this spring? How do we want to feel right? And what are the components that go into creating that style based on how we want to look and feel. And of course, with my expertise, I’ve spent 20 plus years as a freelance fashion stylist and on the sets of big brands and magazine shoots. I’m definitely going to be sharing all my insights to encourage progress, right?
So I see personal style as a practice. It is a way to be intentional. A way to make conscious choices. And this is what we’re going to practice together in the 90 day style refresh so that you reemerge with a little more, self-awareness a little more self-acceptance. And in the end, you’ll feel more confident and energized. This is a way to breathe life, not into just your wardrobe, but into how you see yourself and the way that you see your life so that you feel more inspired. And it’s also going to be so much fun, right? To be in a group of others who are all doing the same thing.
So if you’re interested in joining, then go ahead and go to ElyshaLenkin.com/betterperson. And then you can get all the details to this amazing style refresh. And I would love for you to join us.
Daily Tiny Assignment
I really jived with so much of what Elysha was saying. But something that really jumped out to me was her talking about your North Star words. Those words, that sum up how you want to be feeling. They can guide you when you’re getting dressed, of course. But also just in how you are, and what you do, and how you’re feeling, and what you’re thinking about. So your tiny assignment is to think about what are my three North star words for right now. For this re-emergent time. Do I want to feel fun? Do I want to feel safe? Or do I want to feel free?
There’s no right answer here. Just think about what your answer is. Write them down somewhere so that you don’t forget all about it once you’ve done it. And then look to those North Star words when you’re getting dressed in the morning. Or think of them, just call them up in your mind. And also when you’re trying to decide what you’re going to do this weekend or what your next work project is going to be, or how you’re going to approach some conversation.
That’s it for me today. Be sure. And come back tomorrow when I’m continuing the re-emergence theme.