Telling someone they need to change their style is almost always tough. No one likes to hear that they don’t look good, and being told so can put someone on the defensive. That’s never a good thing. But sometimes, people need to be told they have to make a change, and going about it the right way can help make a big difference.
Talk In Private
If you are going to put someone on the spot regarding their style, don’t do it in front of a group of people. That’s just asking for them to get upset and defensive. Instead, talk with them in private. It’s more intimate and they won’t feel like they are getting ganged up on or embarresed in front of others. They’ll be more relaxed, and therefore more apt to listen to what you are telling them, and maybe even open to change.
The Critique Sandwich
This is something used in the creative world often. What it is, is something positive you see about something (or in this case, a person’s style), something negative, and then something positive again. Putting the negative in between two positive things lightens the blow a little, and makes it easier to stomach.
Here are a couple examples of style-related critique sandwiches.
Becky, I love how creative you are with your style–you always have the most beautiful jewelry. I’d love to see more bigger tops on you, I feel like the ones you wear often are always so tight, it distracts from your amazing shoe collection.
I’ve always been envious of your hair, Jane. It’s always so shiny and neat. Have you thought about wearing jeans less, and trying dresses out every so often? You’ve got great legs!
You have such amazing skin! It’s so clear. You should try pulling your hair out of your face every so often, show it off a little. I bet it would make your eyes pop too, they’re such a pretty shape.
See how that works? The negative thing is surrounded by complements, but obvious at the same time. It’s not a back-handed complement, nor is it a bitchy comment meant to hurt. The negative comments are worded in such a way that they’re helpful bits of advice, which also helps lessen the sting.
Don’t Be A Bitch
Don’t be mean just for the sake of being mean. It’s unnecessary and totally hurtful. You can tell someone their style needs to change without hurting their feelings, even if you don’t use the critique sandwich.
For example, saying, “that shirt is hideous! Did a Smurf throw up on you? What the hell were you thinking when you bought that ugly thing?” is rude and the wrong way to go about things. Instead, saying something like, “I love the color blue on you, but that cut doesn’t really flatter you” is a little more gentle and easier to stomach.
This also means you should avoid being passive-aggressive and giving back-handed complements (you know, the complement that’s actually an insult). That kind of stuff is unpleasant and completely unnecessary.
So when you talk to someone about their style, and the need to make changes, keep both their feelings and your tone in mind. Before you say anything, think about whether-or-not you’d like to hear the same.
Offer To Help
Instead of just telling a person they need a change in style, offer to help them make the change. Offer to go shopping with them, or go through their closet and get rid of stuff. Be more than just the person that tells them they need a change; be the friend who supports them and helps them get where they need to be
Don’t Push It
If someone isn’t ready to change, they won’t, no matter how many times you talk to them. Pushing them too much may actually make them resist changing. So don’t bug them every day or every time you talk to them. Talk about other stuff too. Heck, even offer an honest complement about something style-related. It shows them you weren’t just looking to hurt their feelings, but also that they can make good style choices on their own.
It’s Not Easy
Telling someone they need a change in style is hard. It’s no cakewalk to tell someone they have bad taste in clothes or shoes. It can result in hurt feelings and strained frienshipds, but if you go about it the right way, you can limit that. Have you ever had to have the talk with someone about their style? Have you ever been on the receiving end?
Believe it or not, I’ve been on the receiving end of the talk. Not easy, but so worth it!