You Just Keep On Chasing Perfect: Practical Tips For Perfectionists
In this blog post we are going to stop chasing perfect for good. Find practical tips for perfectionists and recovering perfectionists from your image consultant aka me. Including dated style rules that you can forget right now + some homework to help you lead a more wholesome life.
Us humans have a natural tendency to aim for perfection. We admire it’s sublime beauty in architecture, literature, music and very much in science like mathematics. But when it comes to natural sciences like biology of psychology, suddenly the exceptions becomes more interesting than perfection.
A perfect style, for example, is not that interesting actually. It lacks authenticity and it’s hard to relate to. Those little flaws, done on purpose or by accident, are far more charming in my opinion. I am far more drawn to that realness than the hollow perfection of an air-brushed and photoshopped look.
Can We Ever Be Perfect?
Chasing perfection in your appearance is a futile attempt because once you have reached it, you have already lost the game. There is nothing tangible in perfection and we can’t relate to it. We put it on a pedestal -and just look at it. It becomes an object of admiration.
But there is no development and thus no future. Time freezes in perfection, and while it’s an amazing experience to look into Mona Lisa’s 500 year old eyes, for enjoyable life and a successful career there needs to be a journey with a past, present and future.
Perfection is possible in brief passing moments but the beauty of life comes in it’s imperfections and the hiccups on the road. There is no charisma in the absoluteness of black and white but in lies in the various shades of the rainbow somewhere in between.
Being Unique Is Attractive
Same applies to you and your style. You are the unique YOU and that is what makes you magnetic. Everyone has their own story and the ability to tell that story through their image and style.
My job as an image consultant is to give your narrative a visual form and to help you to express yourself freely through your style. I won’t make you look and act like someone who you are not, so there’s no need to be scared.
A Quick Side Note: My 2 Cents On Body Positivity
I actually dislike the current body positivity movement because it draws unnecessary attention to the female body and overlooks all other attributes. These attributes could be your wonderful skills and radiating charisma. In my opinion those are far more important things in life than just looks.
This way of thinking in my opinion implies that there was something wrong about a (female) body in the first place. It suggests that we now need to suddenly love our bodies despite their imperfections. Um, what imperfections? A body is a wonderful creation on it’s own. Ok, beautiful is good but all bodies are still magical in their own way.
Actually the body itself is nothing but a shell and it was always perfect and capable as it was. Your story is the one that attracts people and make them listen to you, not your body. Many style and body ideals are totally unrealistic and unhealthy. There are always people who are willing to tell you that you are not good enough.
On the other side you have people accusing you of not loving yourself and your body enough. Go figure! So it’s better to stop chasing unrealistic ideals and just enjoy being yourself. Spoiler alert: I won’t be one of those body-shaming people. I welcome you as my image consulting and personal styling client despite of your weight, shape, color or age.
Don’t Waste Your Life By Chasing Perfect
Getting stuck in the middle of it all is downright confusing. What if I told you that you can ignore these voices? I really don’t want you to waste your life chasing ideals that are not you and that don’t contribute to your happiness. You wouldn’t want your family or friends to think badly about themselves. Then why do you do it to yourself?
Make only goals that you are able to achieve without having to sacrifice huge things in your life, such as happiness or time together with loved ones. A healthy way of practicing body-positivity is not to give too much attention to it. Accept and respect your body as it is. Take good care of it but you don’t need to be madly in love with it.
Accepting facts of life and being able to live in harmony inside of your body is already more than enough. Just as long as you don’t hate yourself 100% of the time you are doing a really good job in my opinion. And maybe you can learn to love yourself a little bit more in the process. Do we have a deal?
Style As A Way Of Self-expression
When you allow yourself to admit your dreams, you are taking a major leap towards the person you want to be and who you want to look like. You might want to wear something totally different or to be more free to express yourself through your style.
Your personal style is the agent that helps you to communicate your authentic self to others as L.A. designer, publisher and celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe cleverly put it.
Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.– Rachel Zoe
Style is a great way to express yourself and it has been forever like that. Throughout centuries people have shown status, wealth, and more interestingly, political and religious beliefs through their style choices.
Your style needs to express your authentic and true self. Without a connection to the real you, any style remains vague and unattractive. So keep on looking for that connection and a spark that ignites great things in your life. This applies to all stages of your life, all ages and all body types.
Just like you, your style should continuously evolve and move on. It won’t, and it shouldn’t, ever be 100% ready. You can also choose to reinvent yourself and your style whenever you feel like it. After all, you OWN your style.
Remember that you are not meant to be perfect and your style doesn’t have to be perfect. That’s the whole fascination about life itself that we can always change and make things even better for ourselves. It’s up to you. You are holding the key to changing your outlook on life and your style is one way to start this journey.
Stop Chasing Perfect
It might not be the right moment for a major style leap right now. Perhaps you need to work on something else first and only then move on to expressing your true self through your style. But always remember that you deserve to look like the person YOU want to be.
It saddens me to hear the stories that some people don’t allow themselves to look nice because of insecurities, other people’s opinions or because they want to punish themselves.
One common reason to punish yourself is to deny yourself beautiful things until you are at your ideal weight. Another reason is that people believe that they are not worthy enough to look nice. I always say that you deserve to look nice at any weight and that you are worthy. Beautiful things belong to you too and everyone deserves to look amazing.
Many of my clients tell me that someone had told them that they can’t wear a certain color or style because of xyz. Very often that negative person in their life has actually been wrong and I am delighted to correct those false style statements in a heartbeat.
I understand that it’s fun to reward your hard work with a nice outfit but you still deserve to be happy and feel good about yourself. You deserve nice things every single day of your life. If you don’t want to buy new things then maybe you can work with an item of clothing that you already own. That too is self-care and not everything has to always be shiny and new.
Perfectionist Style Rules That You Can Forget Right Now
- You have to be trendy
- Your appearance is more important than your inner peace
- Compare your style to others
- Every detail in your outfit needs to match
- Your metals need to match
- You need makeup every day
- Your hair needs to be done every single day
- You can only be powerful in heels
- Your outfits need to be sexy
- Your underwear needs to match
Homework For Perfectionists Who Want To Stop Chasing Perfect
- Share this article with a friend who is over-consumed by their appearance. Tell them that they are enough, worthy and loved just as they are
- Now tell that also to yourself: YOU are worthy and loved just as you are!
- If you want to change your style by all means go for it. But make it realistic. Take in consideration your lifestyle, your body shape, your colors, your values, your budget and your personal brand
- Develop yourself in other ways instead of being constantly busy with your looks. You can for example become a better listener or improve your personal image from home
- Enjoy the small things in life and appreciate the beauty of nature
- Keep a journal of things that you enjoyed, loved, made you feel inspired or grateful
- Refer to this list when the urge to be perfect strikes again
Are you a (recovering) perfectionist or do you sometimes catch yourself chasing perfect? Share your experience and your best tips on how you managed to overcome perfectionism or keep it at bay.
This article was originally published on 16th April 2016 on I on Image’s blog and updated on 7th March 2023.
12 thoughts on “You Just Keep On Chasing Perfect”
Yes indeed. But it is a start and it might motivate others to give up toxic habits too. Wishing you all the best on your path xx
Awareness is only half the battle, unfortunately
It’s so admirable that you are aware of these traits in you and know what their effect is. I am sure that you will be eventually able to work it out xx
I’m not as bad as I use to be on wanting things to be perfect, but it wasn’t because I was a perfectionist, per se, but rather a fear of not being good enough or not being seen as good enough. However, even though my need for things to be perfect have diminished, the under lying causes still hold me back
I have the same! But I don’t let it take up too much of my time. I just learn to make things right fast and accept that sometimes it doesn’t work. Enjoy the weekend xx
I definitely have an element of the perfectionist in me, but more so the idea in my head. If I buy something and want to wear it a certain way or have an outfit planned for an event (back when that was a thing), it has to look like that image in my head. Not so worried about always having perfect hair though! x
Thank you for commenting Lisa! That is a really good phrase to remember. In our chase for perfect we miss also opportunities because we can’t get stuff done fast enough. Indeed nobody will notice those small things that keep us up all night.
Thank you for chiming in Maria! Let’s celebrate that we are not perfect xx
I think the phrase Done is better than Perfect springs to mind here, Jenni! I am guilty of wanting to look as perfect as possible sometimes, but usually the penny drops that really, the only person who’s going to notice that I’m not is me – we are always our own worst critics. Great tips, thank you 🙂
I’m totally agree with you, the perfection is the death of true self.
Thank you for your comment Kayleigh! As much as I love fashion, I must admit that it can be a cruel mistress at times. That’s why I wanted to write this post so people would feel more comfortable with themselves. The last thing I want to do is to be one of those fashion peeps who resort to body-shaming or fat-shaming. Glad to hear that you are getting better at listening to yourself xx
Ooof, I feel this one! As someone who has struggled with eating disorders and body dysmorphic tendencies the perfectionist in me just refuses to go away completely. Over the years it has gotten less intense as I’ve learned how my brain is playing me! It’s funny though how style and fashion can add to it at times…