DRESS TO IMPRESS: HOW CLOTHES CAN IMPROVE YOUR CONFIDENCE

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Photo: Free People
Photo: Free People

The clothing we choose to wear is a reflection of us and in part, it helps others to form an initial opinion of what we are like as a person. You wouldn’t, for example, turn up to a job interview in a tracksuit – it isn’t professional and would suggest to the employer that you aren’t taking it seriously. Likewise, you wouldn’t turn up to an exercise class in a suit – it just isn’t practical.


But, while we have clothing that is suitable for certain situations, the outfit we wear can also affect how we feel. Take that job interview. You wear a suit so that you do make a good impression but the shirt is so tight you can barely lift up your arms and the skirt is so short you are constantly trying to pull it down a bit. The result? You feel uncomfortable and therefore unconfident – this will come across to those you meet and could cost you the job. 

HOW CLOTHES AFFECT MOOD

Instead, you wear that dress that makes you feel like you could take on the world – you look good, feel good and ultimately you are comfortable and confident. This simple outfit change could help you bag the role and avoid rejection.    

In 2014, car manufacturer Kia conducted a survey to see what made people feel confident. Included in the top 10 things for women were: heels and a little black dress and for men it included a suit.

We all have that ‘go to’ outfit in our wardrobes, don’t we? The one we put on – when everything else we own is making us feel frumpy or overweight – that instantly transforms our mood.

Photo: Anthropologie
Photo: Anthropologie

To explore the theory that clothes can change the way we feel,Vogue asked several women across different careers ranging from art to politics, what piece in their wardrobe helped them feel powerful and ready to take on anything at work. Answers included the likes of heels, while others cited correlations between brands and confidence.

Whether it is a job interview, an important meeting or just a night out with friends we want to feel comfortable and confident and the right clothes are a key way to guarantee this.

PUBLIC SPEAKING & YOUR WARDROBE

One situation that even the most confident among us can feel the nerves creep in is public speaking – this could be an important presentation at work or a speech at your best friend’s wedding. Unfortunately, this isn’t always something we can avoid but Glossophobia is considered to be the greatest fear a person can have.  Several motivational speakers – including those you can find on this website – will tell you that one way to feel confident when speaking in front of people and in general is to ensure you are wearing clothes that make you feel comfortable and confident.

Scientists call this ‘enclothed cognition’ – when your style and clothes reflect and affect your mood and confidence. In the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, professors Adam Hajo and Adam D. Galinsky explain that this: “Involves the co-occurrence of two independent factors – the symbolic meaning of the clothes and the physical experience of wearing them.” During research, subjects wore coats while performing tests – some wore a lab coat similar to a doctor’s, others wore a painter’s coat and some didn’t wear either.
They found that attention increased while wearing the doctor’s coat in a way that it didn’t with the other two.

Photo: H&M
Photo: H&M

CHOOSING THE RIGHT OUTFIT

Similarly, writing in her book ‘Mind What You Wear,’ Professor Karen Pine from the University of Hertfordshire explains that specific clothing (including superhero t-shirts!) can make you feel more confident in all sorts of situations.

She conducted a study in which she gathered students and asked them to wear a Superman t-shirt, to see if this heroic clothing would change their way of thinking. Interestingly, not only did it make them more confident, it also made them feel physically stronger.

“When wearing the Superman t-shirt, the students rated themselves as more likeable and superior to the other students,” Karen explained.

You might not want to put on a superhero t-shirt next time you want to feel confident, but you should think carefully about what you are going to wear, because the right outfit can make all the difference to how you feel.

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