Do you know that feeling you get when you step out in a new outfit and you feel like you can conquer the world? That’s fashion confidence.
It’s knowing that what you’re wearing looks good, and it doesn’t matter if people are giving you compliments or not. It’s a rush of empowerment, a feeling of strength, and an all-around badass sensibility.
The truth is, most people don’t feel this kind of self-confidence nearly as often as they should–and there are many reasons why. Maybe they’ve never had anyone tell them they looked nice before; maybe they’ve been teased for their weight or appearance; maybe they lack the right style knowledge to dress well…the list goes on and on. The point is, if you feel that your style is lacking, then you’re probably not feeling confident either.
Instead of focusing on the ways in which they fall short, many people just give up and resign themselves to a wardrobe filled with ill-fitting clothes or unfashionable hand-me-downs. But there’s nothing healthy about giving up on something that should make you feel good about yourself just because it’s hard.
It’s time to find your style, and it’s time to use it to express your best self. No matter where you are in your style journey, this is a crucial step to embracing your identity, how you perceive yourself, and how others view you.
So What Exactly is Style Confidence? And how do you get it?
The first step is to realize that style confidence isn’t something you’re just born with. It’s a skill that needs to be developed, and it all starts with taking a look at the way you dress and identifying the areas in which you feel totally unconfident.
Style confidence is finding a personal style that makes you FEEL like your best self. It encourages you to go out into the world, with your held high, and find your own strength through your style.
Fashion confidence allows you to communicate to the world who you are and put your best foot forward.
And, sometimes style confidence isn’t prioritized. Style confidence has to do with, yes, your personal style, but it also has to do with your relationship with fashion. And here, we hope to improve that relationship.
Let fashion be your strength and superpower.
Enclothed Cognition: How your fashion effects you
Some people might find it silly or even offensive to think that the clothes you wear could affect how confident you are, but there’s plenty of research out there to support this claim.
It definitely rings true for me. When I put on one of my favorite outfits, I feel like I can take on anything in the world; when I’m wearing something that doesn’t feel as good as it could, I start to doubt myself.
By taking a more active interest in how you dress, you can improve your style, and by doing so also boost your confidence. In psychology, this is called “enclothed cognition,” the idea that what we wear influences who we are or how we think or act. For example, research shows that men act more aggressively when they are wearing a suit, perhaps because they think of themselves as businessmen.
The idea behind enclothed cognition is pretty simple: our clothes communicate messages to our brain and can either boost our mood and cognitive ability or not.
The enclothed cognition study specifically looked at what a white lab coat could do to our own confidence, cognitive function, and ability. Giving a white lab coat to people with the reference of it being a “doctors coat” improved the cognitive sharpness and confidence in the participant. The same boost did not occur when the coat was given to participants as a “painter’s coat”. (source)
Style confidence has a lot to do with our social references, our perspectives, and our inner monologue. Let’s look at how you can find strength through style, and achieve better style confidence.
11 Steps to Improve your Style Confidence and Feel more Confident in Clothes
1. Act Now! Dress for your Best Self Now
It’s really easy to get caught up in the constant “improve-yourself” culture. From New Year’s Eve resolutions to self-care routines, to closet cleanouts, these are all great things when used appropriately, however, modern marketing tends to turn them into pillars of worth.
So we get caught up in the constant “improvement” and never actually fix the root relationships. We tell ourselves if we just lose 10 lbs, then we will take our wardrobe seriously.
Or, once we get that new job, then we can have the closet of our dreams.
But, waiting for a magical shift is not the answer to feeling confident in your clothes. Instead, act now. And by reading this article (and beginning to implement it), you are taking control of your style and how people perceive you. So congrats!
2. Get Rid of Clothes that Make you Feel Crappy
The first step to dressing better is actually having clothes that fit and that make you feel good.
But it’s more than just cut or numbers on a label. If you have clothes in your wardrobe that are too tight or don’t flatter you, take them out immediately. They should go directly into the donation pile because they are furthering a toxic relationship with your clothes.
We all have those jeans we *wish* we could squeeze into. But, it’s time to say goodbye to them. Wearing clothes that are too small or uncomfortable will not only make you appear bigger than you are, but it will also make you feel less confident.
And, if you tried a trend and it just didn’t work out for you, release it. Let that trend go. If it doesn’t make you feel good, look good, or give purpose to your wardrobe- then you need to purge it.
3. Separate how you Feel about your Body and your Style
Where are my body dysmorphia people at? Even if you don’t unequivocally suffer from body image issues, it is easy to have a skewed vision of yourself. And usually, it’s overly harsh.
Many people struggle with body image and can find themselves feeling ashamed of their bodies especially when trying on clothes. But your body hang-ups, and “improvement goals” need to be separate from your style.
If you dress from an ” I need to hide this” or “I need to fix this” perspective, you will always feel a sense of lacking when it comes to style confidence.
While you should work on healing your body image, and improving your relationship with yourself, in the meantime accept that your style and fashion confidence is a different entity than your body hang-ups.
You can look great in a fitted dress even if you have a bloated tummy, you can rock crop tops no matter your size, and you can find happiness in your style. Is your body working to keep you alive? Great, you can start embracing your style.
4. Identify your Style Types and be Honest with Yourself
Now that you have purged the clothes from your wardrobe that don’t make you feel confident, it’s time to identify what kind of styles make you happiest. Are you a classic girl? Maybe a little edgier or sporty? Or do you prefer trendy fashions?
It is important to identify what kind of styles you have before getting too deep into the style confidence journey. This way, if there are some pieces that really aren’t for you or you don’t feel confident in then they can be given away!
This isn’t to box you in, but rather to start honing where you want your style to go. Your style journey is never “finished”. Instead, it will continue to evolve and ebb and flow with age, style preferences, and lifestyle goals.
5. Don’t Copy Others Exactly or Pretend to be Someone you’re Not
I know I am going to get a lot of flack for this from people who believe fashion has rules, and that by buying exactly what their favorite influencer wears they have found style.
But, that is ridiculous. There is no other person on earth quite like you and your style preferences should be authentic to YOU!
When we copy others’ fashion it tends to be rooted more in embracing what that person has in their life. We think by mimicking their style that we will have their confidence, their beauty, or a life worth living. But, that’s not how it works.
Ultimately, that’s just pretending to be someone you’re not and can lead to a detachment from your unique sense of self.
While it is ok to look at others for inspiration or initial style guidance or outfit combinations, having true fashion confidence and feeling your best in clothes will be rooted in taking your own style path. So take inspiration, and add your own flavor- but never copy!
6. Don’t be Afraid to Expand your Style Horizons
This is more of a reminder that just because you tried something once and didn’t feel confident in it, doesn’t mean that type of style isn’t for you. I recommend you try a trend or new item at least 3 different ways before you give up on it. And you should photograph each new way you wear it so that you can look back on it and see what elements of the outfit are going right, and what elements could be improved.
Style confidence comes with practice! And style evolution is part of that. Your style will grow with you, and it will never stop growing. Try new trends, add new pieces into your wardrobe, or even try a new silhouette to expand your style and add some confidence to each new phase of your style journey.
As long as you are being yourself, then all styles are fair game!
7. Don’t get too Attached to Trends or Styles that Don’t Work out for you
I love trying new trends, but that also means I learn which trends really suit me and which ones I might retire early. It is great to get outside your fashion comfort zone and try a new trend or style, but don’t get down on yourself if it just isn’t for you. (note- as mentioned previously you should try the trend in 3 separate ways before abandoning it completely).
If you can do it, try not to get too attached to trends or items that you feel like you failed on. If something doesn’t work on you or isn’t your style- move on and don’t let it affect your relationship with your clothes! There will always be new things to try, look at like a learning experience instead of a “failure”.
8. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
We all know what this is like. When we see other fabulous people looking amazing we instantly feel insecure or unworthy of wearing it- even if it looks good on us too! Why does this happen?
It is because we want to feel confident in ourselves and when they see others wearing things that work for them, it can trigger a sense of lack in ourselves.
But, if someone else looks amazing in that outfit or that trend- may be all you need to do is tweak yours! Make it your own and own what you have! That is the best way to stop the comparison trap.
Because you can’t compare french fries to potato chips. Both are perfect salty snacks and stand-alone.
9. Look at aSstyle Icon for Mentorship and Initial Inspiration (no copying!)
Style confidence definitely comes with practice, but if you find an icon that you love and admire, take some notes on pieces they use, layering techniques, and overall style categories.
Don’t be afraid to take their outfit and make it your own. Tweak it to fit your body type, your best assets, and your lifestyle.
Don’t worry about looking perfect or being a perfect match- just have fun in exploring a new style technique.
Remember that this is an exercise to help you narrow your style goals, not to recreate their style. I’m sure you’ve heard that if you eat the exact same diet as your favorite celebrity, that does not mean you will have their body. And your style is no different. You need to experiment for yourself and take into your consideration your unique body shape, and lifestyle needs.
For instance, in the above example, I took the style components that Rosie Huntington-Whiteley uses to master sophisticated athleisure, but I used my own pieces, my own wardrobe, and made them work for my proportions. I didn’t go out and buy the exact items she is wearing. And I adjusted the proportions of the sweatsuit and the jacket length to lengthen my vertical line (as I’m not as tall as her).
It can also be more general like this:
In the outfit above, I took inspiration from Rosie Huntington Whiteley’s sophisticated neutral color palette and her love of trench coats and subtle textures. But the outfit, the combination, and the pieces are all from my unique style perspective. And the sunglasses are a vintage nod to my accessory style preference.
10. Remember that you are the Secret Sauce
No one can be You better than You! Your look is truly unique and you should be confident in it.
Everyone has a different body type and everyone has different interests and tastes.
So don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things- even if it might be out of your comfort zone!
Just remember that there is no such thing as a “style rule” in fashion because everyone’s personal style is their own.
So stay true to yourself, explore what works for you, and remember that your style confidence is something that no one can take away from you!
11. Speak to Yourself and your Style Kindly
When you look in the mirror and think- “ugh, why can’t I pull that off?” or “I wish I had the guts to try that trend” YOU ARE THWARTING YOUR STYLE AND FASHION CONFIDENCE!
Because if you talk badly to yourself about your body or your style, it doesn’t get you anywhere. If anything, it just makes you more insecure.
No one is perfect- even if they look like they can wear every “cool-girl” trend, that person still feels insecure at times.
Stop berating yourself and give yourself credit for trying!
So, how do you find your personal style confidence? Find the 5 things that make you feel confident in yourself and start highlighting and embracing those attributes. By instilling a sense of feeling good about how you look (not because someone else has deemed you stylish) but because you have empowered yourself to make your style as unique as you are, you will gain fashion confidence.
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Style Tips to Help Expand your Style Confidence
The Power Suit
The power suit is a good go-to for building your confidence. You can be yourself and feel like you’re owning the room when wearing one, and it instantly makes you feel in control. When you wear a power outfit, people will take you seriously — they’ll respect what you do and who you are.
I recommend a power suit for an interview, a presentation, or any time you have to look and feel your very best. It’s like armor. Power suits will make you start taking yourself more seriously too — and that alone is empowering.
“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,” Karen J. Pine author of Mind What You Wear: The Psychology of Fashion.
So what does this mean for you? Well, it could be that the suit you wore to your college graduation makes you feel like an adult (and therefore raises your confidence), or that the polo shirt your soccer coach made you wear gives you a sense of identity and belonging, even when it’s stifling hot at practice.
According to the studies on enclothed cognition, casual clothes can improve our openness and agreeableness. And in a work environment is said to improve communication. So just be mindful of this effect and embrace your casual Fridays whenever they come around! (source)
Color and Style Confidence
The color of your clothes can also affect your confidence and mood. How we perceive and associate certain colors will directly impact our thought process and how we are perceived.
The red dress theory is a great example of this.
According to many sources, we perceive women in red as more confident and happy. It is also said that wearing red will make you seem like a more desirable person and potentially even more physically attractive to others. (At least according to the color theory!). Just look at the woman in red in the Matrix movies ;). (source)
Activewear and Athleisure
Wearing gym clothes or active clothes can actually help you make healthier choices and increase your chances of exercise. (source)
But, it’s also not a magic solution. How you feel in these clothes and the impact they have on your mood is critical.
Just because you’re wearing the same leggings you slept in does not mean you’ll be inspired to go to the gym. But, if you get up, shower, and throw on a cute activewear set, your mindset will be more likely to follow through on those healthy choices.
So what do I do with this information?
Style confidence is something you learn and adapt to improve your entire lifestyle. Just like that feeling after you get a haircut or get your teeth cleaned and you FEEL better about yourself and smile more, the same can happen daily with your style.
Learn the power of self-expression through clothes and it will become your strength and asset.
Style confidence quotes to keep you motivated
“Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.” – Rachel Zoe
“Fashion is not necessarily about labels. It’s about confidence.” – Pharrell Williams
“Fashion may be described as a language, with its own vocabulary and grammar, capable of expressing anything.” – unknown
“Style is the answer to everything. A fresh way to approach a dull or dangerous thing.” – Charles Bukowski
“Fashion is what you adopt when you don’t know who you are.” – Quentin Crisp
“Style isn’t about reinventing yourself, it’s celebrating who you really are.” – Rachel Zoe
“Style is something each of us already has, all we need to do is find it.” – Diane von Furstenberg
“Fashion fades, style is eternal.” – Yves Saint Laurent
“Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.” – Orson Welles
“Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world.” – Marilyn Monroe
“Style is an expression of individualism that creates persistence within change.” – unknown
“Fashion is architecture: It is a matter of proportions.” – Coco Chanel
“It isn’t what I wear that counts. It’s how I wear it.” – unknown
“Style is an expression of individuality. It makes one feel comfortable and happy.” – unknown
“Fashion is an expression of what you are, who you are, where you are going to be. If it doesn’t say anything about you, why bother?” –unknown
“Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life.” – Bill Cunningham
“Style is the answer to everything. A fresh way to approach a dull or dangerous thing.” – Charles Bukowski
“Fashion is for anybody who wants it, whenever they want it and wherever they want it.” –unknown
“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live.” – Coco Chanel
“She can beat me, but she cannot beat my outfit.” – Rihanna
“I have always believed that fashion was not only to make women more beautiful, but also to reassure them, give them confidence.” – Yves Saint Laurent
“Fashion is very important. It is life-enhancing, and, like everything that gives pleasure, it is worth doing well.” – Vivienne Westwood
“What you wear is how you present yourself to the world, especially today, when human contacts are so quick. Fashion is instant language.” – Miuccia Prada
“Find strength through style” -Gabrielle Arruda
Style is confidence. Wearing clothes you feel good in makes all the difference in your mood and outlook on life. When you feel good, you act with more confidence and that increases your chances of success, both internally and externally.
I am a strong believer in the power of fashion if you haven’t noticed already. I’m an introvert by nature and don’t always have the strongest sense of self. However, when I use my fashion to express myself or put on an outfit that I feel great in, all of that changes. And I think most people who meet me would never guess that I’m anything but capable and confident, and I have my style to thank for that.
It’s easy to buy the latest trends, follow the coolest influencers, or even hire a fancy stylist. But until you find your fashion confidence and learn how to be confident in your clothes, you won’t have tapped into this superpower.
Now, go find strength through style!
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