You Are What You Wear: Science-Backed Reasons to Boost Your Style Self-Confidence

Power outfits at Milan Fashion Week Spring 2017

Power outfits at Milan Fashion Week Spring 2017; Image: Imaxtree

You are what you wear. Science says so. And you wouldn’t want to argue with science now, would you? What you wear not only signals something to others, it affects your own self-perception. According to a study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, we tend to take on whatever cultural associations we have with a particular piece of fashion and embody them. How you dress can have a massive impact on how you behave and how you feel. Scientists call this “enclothed cognition.”

Here’s where the good news comes in: If we carefully curate our wardrobe, perhaps we can not only look stylish, but also pave the way into an extra dose of self-confidence in the process. It’s a win-win. Really.

How? Let’s break it down.

Power Outfits

There’s something about pantsuits (and formal clothing) that demand some serious attention. There’s a reason why politicians and business leaders tend to veer toward that power outfit. There’s just something about it that signals that you mean business, that you’re professional and that you’re in charge. Wearing a power outfit, you’ll often find yourself even holding yourself differently. Dressing to suit the role you’re playing will make you feel more comfortable in it — on the stage and in life.

“When we put on a piece of clothing we cannot help but adopt some of the characteristics associated with it, even if we are unaware of it,” writes University of Hertfordshire professor Karen J. Pine in her book Mind What You Wear: The Psychology of Fashion.

So, you may want to ditch the yoga pants. (Unless you’re doing yoga, of course.)

Bring Sexy Back

For a lot of women, there’s a certain confidence that’s derived from dressing a little bit sexy. It starts with your undergarments and lingerie. Even if no one sees it, it can make you feel desirable and strong. Like you’ve got a little secret underneath all those layers. Then there’s high heels, of course. The right pair can be a woman’s best friend. There’s something about heels that makes us automatically move (and feel) differently. Slip on a little black dress and your favorite perfume and suddenly you’re unstoppable.

woman with self-confidence wearing black top, red skirt

Turn heads in a red pencil skirt; Image: Imaxtree

The Colorful Approach

Find the right color and it will make your eyes pop. Don the wrong colors and you’ll look tired. But there’s more to color than just skin flattery. Colors can create emotions in us (and others).  Red, for example, is a head-turning color associated with passion and fiery energy (and apparently women wearing red are more likely to be approached by men for a date). Blue can be soothing and calming. Black can represent power and authority. White is peaceful and pure. Knowing which color corresponds to which emotional effect can help us choose colors that will help us feel our best.

Develop a Trademark

Trademarks aren’t reserved just for stars. A fashionable trademark accentuates and enhances the best of you. Which means that it celebrates you, too. Perhaps it’s a penchant for quirky prints or T-shirts with funny logos. Or statement belts. Or Vintage handbags. Whatever it is, make sure that it is quintessentially you.

Personal Style

“This above all: to thine own self be true.” See, even Shakespeare can give great fashion advice. At the end of the day, the key to finding confidence through fashion is figuring out your personal style. What patterns and textures do you love? What styles do you feel your best in? Are there accessories that you have a certain fondness for? What fabrics feel best to you? What shapes and sizes are most flattering to you? Once you’ve figured that out, you’ll feel like you’re wearing the clothes, not the other way around and you can be the best version of you.