Self Care Starts In The Closet

By Nadia Boujarwah


During these tough times it’s about so much more than style. But style’s the perfect place to start.

At Dia we believe clothes should make you feel something. A favorite dress can put a smile on your face, a cozy sweater can bring comfort. Times are uncertain and unsettling; getting dressed can help you feel in control when there is so much out of our control. 

Anyone who doubts this or the power of clothes to transform and transport should meet my nieces. 

They’re 5 and 7 and live in Kuwait and on our daily FaceTimes, I am transported to princess castles and dragon-fighting matches. The other day, I attended their virtual wedding. They dress up to feel different, they dress up to play, they dress up to become characters from their imaginations. The older one even designs clothes for both of them. They really, in a fundamental way, understand the power of clothes to transport you. 

In some ways, we all knew this when we were kids. And, it’s time to harness the power of dress-up again. We founded Dia because we understood this power — that clothes can let you be anything and go anywhere (and wouldn’t going anywhere feel great right about now?). Dia grew from a deep understanding of that connection, and of the power that style can have on each of our desires to live a life that is full and rich. 

Our problems won’t be fixed by a swipe of red lipstick or the perfect pair of jeans. But they’re small changes that can help make us feel normal — and if not normal, then better. Self-care comes in many different forms. And as self-care goes, this one is within reach.

Here’s how.

Dress for the life you want.

On days I want to work out, I put on workout clothes right after I wake up. It makes me more likely to work out, which I do to get a better night’s sleep, manage my stress and keep my energy up during the day. 

The cuter my workout clothes, the better my odds are of exercising. Nothing motivates me like leggings and a matching top that I love. Style can change our lifestyle.

I figured out the trick that wearing clothing that makes us feel productive can actually make us productive. So what if wearing something that makes us feel beautiful, confident, secure, and like ourselves can actually make those things reality? We’re more sure of ourselves, more likely to take risks, we have more energy and ready to tackle challenges. We all know how to dress for the job we want, now let’s also dress for the reality we want, and make it happen.

Taking care of yourself enables hope. 

When I put on red lipstick or a dress that no one outside my apartment will ever see, I’m expressing my optimism through my clothing. Hope shouldn’t be discounted as a healing property. 

Am I suggesting we get dressed up every day? No. I spend a good portion of the week in leggings and a T-shirt. But I know that stepping into an outfit that I love can quickly change my outlook. 

Make dress-up a calendar event. Put on something fancy, sparkly, colorful — whatever — for date night once a week. Build in an activity that gets the whole family involved, like “going out” to a dinner in the dining room. You can even put on shoes. A bold move, I know. 

Putting on clothes or makeup or accessories I love gives me a sense of control over what otherwise feels like a completely out of control situation

This is something we can control. 

Will our kids go back to school in the fall? Will social justice take hold? When will there be a vaccine? Of all the things in our lives swirling out of control, we can reclaim our sense of self here. Putting on clothes or makeup or accessories I love gives me a sense of control over what otherwise feels like a completely out of control situation. 

For a long time, the memories that I had with the way that style made me feel were not positive ones. It was not being able to dress the way I wanted to for prom, not wanting to be in family photos, not feeling up to hanging out with friends. I wasn’t able to present myself to the world in the way that I wanted to through my style. 

The plus-sized style community has made great strides. It’s why Dia exists — because no young woman should have to make her own prom dress (like I did) just to be able to wear something that makes her feel special. Those days of hiding in the back of group pictures are behind us, and one day, these current challenges will be, too. Until then, in the name of wellness, let’s dress the part as often as we can.