An Outfit Inspired by Feng Shui


For three years, I worked in real estate. After entering hundreds of homes, it became clear that houses have energy.

Even when devoid of their old furnishings, or full of a stager’s furniture, that energy doesn’t go away. When Christian and I were house hunting, we went into one house where I immediately told him, “We need to leave this house. We shouldn’t be here.” It wasn’t that we weren’t allowed inside, or that I felt watched by spirits. More so, some sense inside of me said, “NOPE.”

Part of my job was measuring houses. I’d go inside homes our clients had recently purchased, and measure every room, every closet, and every door and window frame. There was a specific instance where measuring felt torturous (or, at least, more torturous than normal.) Every corner of that house felt soaked in sadness, and I could barely wait to leave.

Not all of my house-energy experiences were negative. There were plenty of good energy houses, too, where you could feel decades of happy occasions.

And, to be frank, I don’t find this energy romantic or poetic or woo-woo. Rather, it’s an inevitability. If enough instances of sadness, or joy, or loneliness, or excitement happen, they’re bound to congeal. If anything, it’s rather like cat pee. Once it’s there, you have to repaint and strip the flooring before you can clear the air.

Because of all of these run-ins with energy, the idea of Feng Shui, the Chinese practice of using energy to create a harmonious living space, seems logical to me.

I know a bare-bones amount about Feng Shui. I’ve read a few articles when they’ve crossed my path, but never really researched.

It’s Explorer Month here. I’m attempting to traverse new ideas, styles, and shapes with my clothing. What better time than now to launch into Feng Shui? My biggest question? Could I Feng Shui my outfit?

The answer was yes, but it was more challenging than I anticipated.

Let’s jump into the lab.

THE EVENT: Wednesday - a day of writing, a haircut, and replacing my recently-snapped sunglasses.

THE BROKEN RULE: Never wear anything too revealing.

(Yes, I do know that in all of these photos I’m wearing a high-necked sweater dress, but it is quite form-fitting and, for me, that’s akin to revealing. I talk more about my feelings toward this dress here.)

THE OUTFIT: The outfit began with research, and the research itself was dicey.

The internet is jam packed with tips and tricks for Feng Shui at home, but Feng Shui and clothing was harder to come by. Through blogs, an article from 2008, and one website that I’m 98% positive is manned by a tween, I learned that I first needed to determine my birth element.

The elements of Feng Shui are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. My birth element is Earth. (Or, at least, I’m pretty sure it might be. I found the chart in the article above to be mildly confusing.)


Next, thankfully, I found this 2015 article entitled, “The Best Outfit For You, According To Feng Shui” and everything fell into place. According to Feng Shui consultant, Ali Sherbach, as an Earther by birth, I should bring more of the Wood element into my wardrobe. This means wearing greens, blues, stripes, florals, and actual bits of wood. (Think wood handles or wood-stacked heels.) Incorporating those elements, according to Sherbach, would "create gentle growth and movement for someone who has a difficult time moving forward or embracing change."

I often need to be reminded that “gentle growth” is still forward progress, so this wardrobe prescription felt particularly on brand for me.

The outfit I concocted following those guidelines was:

  • A green, high-necked sweater dress with ribbing that imitated stripes

  • A (blue) denim jacket

  • A 10-year-old floral patchwork bag (patchwork is finally back in style!) with a wooden handle.

  • Tan sandals (not Feng Shui - they just coordinated.)

THE EXPERIENCE: I grew out my hair for our wedding. After the big day, I kept it around. I’d already grown it, might as well keep it. I spent the last few months distracted and pulled in other directions, and my hair got longer and longer and longer.

I went in for a haircut on Feng Shui day, expecting to clean up the ends. I walked out with a cut that was six inches shorter (at least).


Before heading back to my writing desk, I dropped into Nordstrom. My one pair of sunglasses had finally snapped. I edged toward the sunglasses display, apprehensive. I have a fairly flat face, and sunglasses are a challenge. Most pairs just fall off.

That day, the sunglasses gods were looking out for me, because the sales associate also had a petite nose bridge. She knew my struggles personally, and suggested several styles that I hadn’t considered. By some miracle, they all stayed on, and I walked out with two pairs of sunglasses.

THE CONCLUSION: Am I attributing my haircut and embrace of new sunglass styles to Feng Shui? Well, maybe.

In both instances, I anticipated an outcome that didn’t align with “gentle growth” but left those experiences having gently grown. I thought I’d keep my long hair, but realized when sitting face to face with Michael Angelo, my hair stylist, that it was time for a change. I thought I’d likely leave Nordstrom sans sunglasses. Instead, I left with two pairs in new-to-me styles. Sure, no change was gargantuan. I don’t have a pixie cut nor Elton John glasses. But… wasn’t that the point?

I don’t know if wearing an outfit that aligns with the Wood element led to these changes. I can’t run this day again, but wearing bright orange. It could have all been a placebo. Or maybe it wasn’t, and isn’t that interesting to consider?

Do you practice Feng Shui? Are you interested in the idea, but haven’t taken the plunge? Do you think my changes were energy-based or merely coincidental? I’d love to chat in the comments below.

Throughout June (Explorer Month!), I’ll be posting three times a week. Sundays and Wednesdays are classic Costume Parade fashion experiments, while Friday posts are more supplemental. (Check out last Friday’s guide to supportive sandals to see what I mean!) All posts go live at 7:00 am PST.

The very first Rule Breakers Review, the Costume Parade newsletter, went out to subscribers this morning! Each edition is filled with Rule Breaker-inspired links, plus a round up of that week’s blog posts. Join the party by signing up below.

I’ll be back on Wednesday with a brand new Mini Lab!