All The Worlds A Stage

Mc Adele Portrati Subtle Smile

“All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women are merely players;

They have their exits and entrances;

And one man in his time plays many parts…”

~Shakespeare, As You Like It


Performing is a word used in many contexts. Job performance, sexual performance, athletic performance, delivering a presentation, first date behavior, interviews. We all use the word ‘performance’ to describe whether we feel we won or lost in whatever game we are playing in life.

Obviously performing is an oft-used word in arts-based scenarios. On stage. In front of an audience. How well someone performs is the sum of their delivery. Their poise. Their impact.

At some point in our life, even if it’s a primary school assembly act, we’ve all performed in a show of some kind. We’ve dealt with the rehearsals, the memorization of lines, the knowledge that there is a lot riding on this moment, that we want to make our parents proud and get the team across the line. We have costumes, makeup, props; things that transport us into the feeling of being that character, that person. Even though you can be Mary in real life you can become Martha on the stage because you are embodying said characters emotions; their experiences, their aspirations.

For major motion pictures, the costume designers are often listed prominently. Not long after the directors and producers, the costume designers hold high elevation. Imagine the thought that goes into creating a perception of a character. We don’t have time to go into each characters story to understand the depth of who they are, but we can, in a moment, understand much about them by how they dress. Costume designers will labor over details to create a very specific look; to describe the character in a way that sends strong messages to the audience; often subconsciously.

Janie Bryant, The costume designer for Mad Men, went as far as to make sure that the female characters she was dressing for had underwear specifically made in the 50s style. The drama created by the 50s silhouette had authenticity because there were girdles, long line bras and petticoats. In The Fashion File (Advice Trips and Inspiration from the Costume Designer of Mad Men), January Jones talks about how she was able to embody the character of Betty easily and completely because of the detailed approach to the costuming.

I wonder how much of this is relevant to real life.

Don’t we go to work every day to ‘perform’?

Aren’t we hoping to put on a good ‘performance’ during interviews, dates, presentations, chairing meetings or managing difficult conversations?

In these moments it can be important to create a strong perception before you even speak on word. To be the costume designer of your own life to embody the character you wish to play. Who you want to be.

Fake it till you make it has never been something that I’ve resonated with. I value authenticity. However, as a stylist who has studied human behaviour, I now understand that what we become starts with an internal desire. An aspiration. A friend of mine recently graduated as a nurse. This started with a desire and throughout a process of learning, tests and immersion; she has become a nurse and is now taking care of sick people, embodying the role of a nurse with authenticity.

It’s the same with the roles we play in work.

How often have my clients said to me, “I want to be taken more seriously at work”. This is both men and women. What I really hear when this is said is “I want to take myself more seriously.”

But we need the means to transport us from A to B. In the case of my nurse friend, she needed to study to become a nurse. But in the case of us, most of us already have more-than-adequate competency and skill to embody the roles we play. Its usually our self-belief that wanes…our lack of feeling worthy of our desires.

And it all starts with a desire. I like to think of desires as being our future self calling back to our present self by way of a wish, a desire for something different. A picture in your mind of how you would like to see yourself. Catching the feeling of what it might be to look like that. To feel good. To feel stylish. To feel powerful.

It’s at this point in the transformation journey that our ego, our vanity and our pride sweep in to undercut those luscious desires. In our mind we hear;

“who are you to look that good?”

“people will judge me”

“it won’t feel like me”

“I can’t afford it”

“I don’t want to be uncomfortable, I’m happy with just looking how I do”

These are the things clients say to me when I ask them what’s been standing in the way of looking and feeling how they want to. It’s a real battle that is waged between an earnest desire and our current self. Our current self wants to keep us where we are, because that is the definition of safe to the body, to the nervous system. There is no challenge here; except that persistent desire that maybe there’s something more for us.

Like any journey of change, there is a stepping outside of your comfort zone. There is learning. There is some clunkiness. There has to be, otherwise it’s impossible to shake out the old self.

Most of us hold so tightly to our fears and we don’t evolve much. This is very evidenced by how we show up, literally. Most of us are stuck in our style from 10-15 years ago.

Can you think of that time that you performed on stage, that you did that thing that was hard and on the other side of it you were like, “Fuck! I’m a superhero!” What once seemed impossible or unattainable how now become a reality.

It’s the same with clothes. We ARE performers in our own acts on our own stage. We are playing roles; manager, mum, husband, entrepreneur; all of which have costumes, props, makeup and lines to learn.

Sometimes we can be doing all the things but not feeling the role, the character. Its when actors get to the dress rehearsal that shit gets real. It’s no longer just learning the role; its becoming the role. It’s feeling the character. It’s the full expression of that character. Often dress rehearsals are the last thing done before opening night. That turning of the key in the lock through wearing the clothes is so powerful for shifting energy, for adding feeling and depth to that memorized performance.

So yes, life is a stage and we are all playing roles. This is not meant in a manipulative or inauthentic way, merely that we are all performing and playing and learning. I encourage you to consider if you feel you are expressing yourself in a way that feels real to you, that lines up with who you see yourself. One of my recent clients said her aspiration for the styling process was to present herself as the “confident, interesting and empowered” person that she was. Working in a male dominated industry, she didn’t want to lose herself, she wanted to find herself. This client recognized that accurate expression of herself through clothes, a connection to her desires and a boldness to take herself seriously was what she was needing. And, in fact, achieved by the end of the process.

If you’d like to show up with more energy, more connection, more authenticity through understanding and expressing your individual style; book a discovery call with me today.

In Style, In Service. Adele x




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