Balance is the buzzword these days, and it seems we’re all trying to balance our lives: balance our work and time with our families, balance our schedules, and balance just about everything. There is an unspoken belief that if only we could achieve balance, we would be happy and everything would be all right.
The difficulty of this idea of “balance” is that our lives are not static, and in fact they are always changing. So even if we do balance our schedule today, tomorrow something may come up and turn the notion upside-down.
In order to avoid perfectionism and take some pressure off ourselves, it is helpful to use a more dynamic concept of balance. In particular, I like the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) notions of yin and yang. Yang represents the masculine aspect and also strength, light, fire, force, fast, solids, and aggressiveness. Yin represents the feminine aspect and therefore yielding, dark, water, ease, slow, liquid, and passivity.
With yin and yang, we realize that each action or element of our lives can only be a combination of those two forces. Subsequently, instead of trying to achieve the perfect balance once and for all, we just need to be aware of the flow between yin and yang, and allow those forces to work together in what we do.
Since this dynamic is reflected in every aspect of our lives, personal styling is no exception. I’m often confronted with the delicate balance of energies and characteristics. For example, it can be a challenge to look put together (using yang/action) but not be over the top (too much yang), or convey ease (yin) but still project confidence (yang). Sometimes looking at a wardrobe can indicate personal imbalances, like having too many hand me downs that don’t fit (too much yin/yielding, without assertiveness) or too many items with tags (too much yang/action without enough yin/reflection & assessment).
Like the lives around us, we are always evolving, so there is hardly one right answer to all of our questions. There is also no perfect, universal balance, only tools to help us as the dynamic individuals we are. However, if we can identify trends (in our wardrobes, and in our lives) and acknowledge their respective places, we can use the concept of balance to our advantage (and cut ourselves some slack in the process).