It’s no secret that a well-chosen outfit has the power to boost your confidence. There is an inextricable link between how we’re dressed and how we’re perceived, and whether we like to admit it or not, our appearance greatly affects the kind of the first impression we’ll make. However, it doesn’t stop there. Aside from this ‘external’ impact a given outfit has on the people around you – be it your superiors or colleagues at work, people you meet in casual social situations or romantic interests – certain clothes simply make you feel more powerful, assertive, capable and even alluring – if that’s what you’re going for.
Who would have guessed that a simple piece of well designed and sewn fabric can have such a strong psychological impact? It indeed does, and today we will be exploring the science behind it and hopefully give you some practical tips on which clothes simply bring out the best in you.
The scientists have spoken
According to a study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, there is a strong connection between wearing the right attire for ‘the job’ and the way we perform. The researchers used lab coats to prove the increase in focus and attention of the wearer, but also to paint a bigger picture – that clothes in general ‘systematically influence wearers’ psychological processes’. They also showed that there is both a symbolic meaning, as well as an actual physical experience, that come with the proper attire.
The bottom line is – whether you’re a physician, scientist, an entrepreneur – your ‘uniform’ makes you feel more capable, focused and confident in your abilities to get the job done, and get it done well.
The external factor
In the ideal world, our appearance would have no impact on our professional success or level of appeal, but for now, we live in a world in which first impressions are based on our looks, and there is scientific evidence to corroborate this claim. A study called Gender and the Returns to Attractiveness has determined that there is a strong connection between attractiveness and potential income. To be more specific, a person is more likely to earn 20 percent more if they are perceived as highly attractive, as opposed to averagely attractive.
Luckily, this ‘attractiveness factor’ has little to do with factors such as your body type and size. No, the so-called ‘beauty premium’, which has the actual power of increasing your chances of advancement in the workplace, is achieved by grooming. Therefore, being well put together in terms of attire, hair, and makeup increases your level of attractiveness, and subsequently, an increase in income.
What does it take?
So, the question that inevitably pops up is – how does one achieve both goals – make a great impression and feel powerful, comfortable and capable? The first thing you need to be aware of is your audience. If you’re in a corporate environment that has a strict business dress code, you will feel ‘at home’ if you blend in and dress the part. This entails wearing garments such as pencil skirts, blouses, blazers and more conservative dresses.
Get on board with the return of the power suit – it will exude assertiveness, and beyond that, it will actually ‘unleash’ the power you hold inside. If you work for a company with a more ‘relaxed’ dress code, overdressing can actually make you feel out of place, so tone things down. Dare to wear items like jeans, wide-leg pants and culottes, simple tees and oversized blazers, play with prints and patterns, and even embrace the athleisure trend with a pair of cool tennis shoes. The one thing to bear in mind is to not get lost in the dress code. Yes, you must respect it in order to blend in, but you also have to feel good in order to feel confident. So, if for instance, tennis shoes don’t do it for you, don’t wear them just because everyone else does.
Your best friend
There is something inexplicable about the relationship between a woman and her bags. It’s like when we have the right one in our hands, we feel like our work is done and we’re ready to conquer the world. Of course, a bag is that crucial piece that ties the entire ensemble together, and investing in high-quality ones like these is paramount. Why? Because a well-designed bag speaks volumes of your style and essentially makes you feel great. It’s better to own one amazing bag than ten average or shabby ones that will look worn-out in less than a year.
The secret weapon
Very little people speak about the power of lingerie. If sexy lingerie (even if no one will see it) is the source of your confidence, wear it on a daily basis. However, this is also a department where it truly comes down to what feels good, because that equals confidence. If you feel like your best self in comfortable cotton underwear, then that’s what you should wear. Just follow your gut.
Know your colors
The truth is, not all colors are made equal – some are simply more luxurious-looking and confidence-evoking than others. Now, the first thing you should do in that regard is to make sure you own a few quality garments in hues such as grey, camel, burnt orange, the right kind of red (most flattering for your skin tone), the inevitable black, as well as navy and white. These are your go-to confidence boosters.
The second important thing is to find your signature color or pattern. Yes, having something that makes you ‘pop’ from the crowd is a major confidence-booster. If you love the leopard print – tie a scarf around your neck, tie it around the handles of your bag, or wear elegant pumps in that pattern. It’s the little details that make you stand out from the crowd. And as long as they’re not over the top, you are golden.
Just like the bag and the lingerie, the right jewelry can make you feel a certain way. Whether it’s a necklace loaded with sentimental meaning, a piece for which you firmly believe it brings you luck or something that simply looks (and is) expensive and makes you feel powerful, you go and rock it, and do it often. Nothing says ‘trademark’ like a unique piece of jewelry.
Finally, never underestimate the power of a good tailor – items that fit like a glove make you feel incredible. Also, a good iron goes a long way as there is nothing like a well-pressed garment.