An Interview with Tess Whitehurst

1. What is a "magical fashionista?"

A magical fashionista is someone who employs fashion and self-care practices to positively affect every area of her life. Of course, many of us consider fashion and self-care to positively affect our lives through our appearance and confidence levels, and this is definitely a big part of it, because when you feel good about yourself, everything in your life blossoms. But a magical fashionista takes this a step further by being highly conscious and intentional about what she wears and what vibe she wants to embody, as well as by allowing her wardrobe to be both a calibration device and a diagnostic tool that helps her to activate, enhance, and harmonize every aspect of her life experience.

2. In your new book, Magical Fashionista, you say that one can employ fashion for all sorts of what you call "magical" purposes. What's an example of a magical purpose, and what's the simplest way to begin working wardrobe witchery right away?

So a magical purpose can be any quality, mood, or condition that you desire to draw into your life. But for an example, let's choose something simple and something that everyone wants: happiness. Let's say that your magical intention is to be happy, because perhaps (let's say) you've been depressed or bummed out for a stretch. So a really effective way to begin working wardrobe witchery right away would be to do a closet purge, and to get rid of every little thing that doesn't make you feel happy. In order to get stuck energy moving, it can be a great idea to pull everything out of your closet and dresser. Everything. Perhaps you could set a happy mood by lighting a red, sweet-smelling candle and putting on a happy playlist. Then, don't put anything back in your closet or dresser unless it supports your intention to be happy. We all have those "low self-worth clothes" that can tend to accumulate (you know, the ones you never feel fabulous in but wear anyway?), so definitely get rid of those. Donate them to a thrift store or invite your friends over for a clothing swap. Then, even if you only have a few things left in your closet, you will have created the space for happiness to flow into your life, and simply by setting the intention and acting on it, you will have set these positive conditions in motion.

3. How did Magical Fashionista come to be? What gave you the idea, and what sources did you draw upon?

As many of my readers know, I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. Healing from something like that can be a lifelong journey, with lots of layers and nuances, and I had recently been going through a lot of healing with regards to my body and sexuality. So, during this time, I began to take care of my body with reverence and love. Even my daily shower and self-care practices were like a therapy session with myself, and like a sacred ritual of healing my relationship with my physicality. Also during this time, I happened to watch the documentary Bill Cunningham, New York (about veteran street fashion photographer Bill Cunningham), which really got me thinking about how fashion can be a tool of personal healing and transformation: I realized that adorning my body lovingly and finding clothes that helped me feel good in my skin and in the world could be a highly sacred and magical act. After sitting with this idea, I quickly realized that this wasn't too different from what I had already been writing about and expressing through my work as a feng shui consultant. After all, feng shui starts with the premise that everything is connected, and that our outer environment affects our inner environment and vice versa. I thought to myself: "How is feng shui different than fashion and self-care? It isn't!" So, in the book, you'll find that I draw upon feng shui principles as well as other metaphysical modalities, such as gemstones, flower essences, conscious intention setting, color therapy, and zodiac, and passes into a new sign every 2-3 days, so the sign of the moon has a lot to do with the unique energies of the day. You can easily get in the habit of glancing at the day of the week and the moon sign in order to align your clothing choices with the unique astrological energies of the day. This would mean that you'd be adding your personal momentum to the flow that's already in motion, sort of like steering your boat with a current rather than against it. To give you an example, Sunday is obviously named after the sun, so solar energies are always present on Sunday. Then, if the moon sign were in, say, Aquarius, then airy, intellectual, offbeat energies would also be in play. To incorporate both, you might choose to wear yellow or white, both of which are aligned with both the sun and the element of air. Or, you might wear a gold charm necklace (gold=sun) depicting a feather (feather=the air element=Aquarius). But, there are also astrological concerns that are unique to your personal sun sign and Chinese sign. Those are a little too involved to go into right now, but they're really fun.

5. Many consider fashion to be a superficial concern—but you don't. Why not?

So many reasons. But one way to think of it is that the way we present ourselves to the world is a way of communicating. We might communicate respect, joy, love, self-worth, and kindness, or we might communicate unhappiness, low self-esteem, and a lack of joy in everyday things. And feelings are highly contagious: they have a very real ripple effect throughout human consciousness. It could be as simple as: when I feel good about how I look, I smile more. When I smile more, other people smile more, and express more kindness and positivity. Another way to think of it is, just by wearing pretty pajamas rather than torn and stained ones, I'm expressing to my boyfriend that I value his opinion and care about his perception of me. Which is a way of expressing consideration and love. I also feel more harmonious about life in general in pretty pajamas, and so he is more likely to as well. I guess it all boils down to that everything is connected, everything affects everything else, and we are more likely to attract and dwell in positivity when we feel good about how we look and what we are wearing.

6. This idea of employing your wardrobe for things above and beyond warmth, protection, social convention, and attractiveness—is it new?

No, it is old—very old! In fact, many historians and anthropologists believe that the very first articles of clothing were not for practical purposes but for magical ones, such as a protective belt or amulet.

7. In Magical Fashionista, you don't just tell people what to wear, you actually provide a number of exercises to help them to find their own unique essence and personal fashion mojo. Can you give us an example of one of these exercises?

Sure! One fun one is the "personal essence playlist." Really get into a zone and find songs that express the aspects of you that you'd like to emphasize, or the conditions you'd like to experience. Do you want to express more sensuality and charisma? Find a song that speaks to your sensuality and makes you want to move your hips and crawl seductively across the floor. Do you want to rock more confidence? Find a song that puts a swagger in your step. Take it seriously, but also let it be lighthearted and fun. Then listen to the playlist often, and especially as you get dressed and get ready for the day. Since we're always changing and growing, it can be a work in progress. As you absorb and begin to embody the qualities of some of the songs, you might not want to listen to them anymore, so take them off the playlist and find new ones that nudge you out of your comfort zone and nurture your most beautiful vision of yourself.

8. You also emphasize looking at yourself as a work of art. Can you explain this concept a little bit?

The idea is that you are beautiful exactly as you are now. Like a butterfly or a dove or a cedar, you are a genetic masterpiece. Once you begin to see yourself in this way, you will choose clothes, scents, and cosmetics that bring out and enhance your unique beauty, rather than hiding it or working against it. For example, when I really looked at my coloring and overall vibe, I realized that I am more like a field of dried wild oats and late fall wildflowers and less like a seascape or an early spring landscape. Once I had this realization, I suddenly understood why icy and cool jewel tones didn't bring out my beauty as much as warm peaches and earthy reds.

9. In the book, you talk about having a "personal fashion angel," or a being in the non-physical world that you call upon or connect with for the purpose of looking and feeling your best with regards to wardrobe and self-care. Do you have a fashion angel, and if so, who is it?

Yes, a personal fashion angel is a fun thing to have, because it's like having your own invisible fashion guru, style mentor, and fairy godmother all rolled into one. You can choose a deceased icon, a transitioned loved one, or a deity or angel who specializes in beauty (such as Lakshmi, Venus, or Archangel Jophiel), and call on her silently before shopping or assembling an outfit. Mine is my Grandma Cecey, who passed into the spirit world over a decade ago. When I was a kid, she frequently took me shopping for new clothes. When I was in high school, grunge was in, so I was very resistant to her suggestions, and she was very confused by my taste. Now, though, when I think of her, I realize that she was the most elegant woman I ever knew, and that all those shopping trips were her way of conferring her fervent belief in the importance of style and meticulous self-care. So many of my style choices these days are inspired by her (for example, my chic, retro, golden mule house slippers) and I like to call on her for help with all things fashion-related.

10. If someone only took away one thing from Magical Fashionista, what would you like it to be?

That your fashion and self-care choices can be like offering fragrant flowers and incense on an altar to the divine: and you are divine! Take your time to find and wear the clothes that feel good to you. Let your wardrobe support who you are and who you wish to be. Treat yourself like gold, because you are gold!

About Tess Whitehurst

Tess Whitehurst (Boulder, CO) teaches magical and intuitive arts in live workshops and via her online community and learning hub, the Good Vibe Tribe Online School of Magical Arts. An award-winning author, she's written ...

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