3 Tips on how Clothes Affect Your Confidence

how clothes affect your confidence

We all know the saying… ‘the clothes make the man’ (or in this case, the woman). But did you know there is research and evidence that PROVES that what you wear really CAN have an impact on your confidence, your behaviour, how you feel and how you conduct yourself?

Not only that… the clothes you wear play a big part in determining how you see yourself and also how others interact with you and treat you. 

Our clothes communicate… and we all know this because we see it every day.  It’s why we dress UP when we’re going out and dress DOWN when we’re lazing around the house.  It’s also why fashion is a billion dollar industry around the world.  So it’s really important to know how clothes affect your confidence.

Like it or not, how we dress has a lasting effect on how we see ourselves, and how others see and treat us, both in society and in the workplace.

Things like cut, colour, design and accessories all speak loudly about who we are and the image of ourselves that we want to project to the world.  So, it’s no surprise that studies have shown that people stand, walk, act and speak differently, depending on how they dress.

Now, in a perfect world, none of this would matter and people would not judge you based on what you wear, nor should your clothing define your worth, your beliefs or your value as a person.  BUT… sadly we don’t live in a perfect world.  We live amongst people who judge, criticise and form instant opinions based on appearances.

Researchers at the National Research Council of Canada (NRCC) found that the way we look strongly influences people’s perception of our financial success, authority, intelligence, assertiveness and suitability for alternative work roles. And this is why it’s SO important to use your clothes to show the world an authentic version you.

The NRCC also found that when you combine appearance with communication skills, not only do people notice, but their behaviour towards you will often change.

As a whole, the way you walk, talk and dress will often determine the levels of trust, compliance and relatedness that others feel towards you, so it’s important that you let your clothes do the RIGHT type of talking.

And let’s be clear… this has nothing to do with vanity, nor do we suggest that you drastically change the way you look or dress, to suit the expectations of others.  But, it’s no coincidence that most workplaces have some sort of dress-code in place and also that most of us have very distinct ideas of what we think of as ‘work clothes’ and what we’d wear to go out.

In this instance, perception is everything!  And that’s not just for others – it applies to you too.  The truth is, some items of clothing can often be associated with specific behaviours and qualities that can help you with your confidence, your assertiveness and your performance at work.

study from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University showed that, when research subjects wore particular items of clothing, they were not only perceived differently, but they also behaved in a different way.  The clothes themselves changed the way they acted. 

The people who wore a scientist or medical coat, performed better on an assessment known as the Stroop Test, which asks participants to say the COLOUR of a word shown on a flash card, instead of the word itself (for example, saying ‘red’ when the WORD blue is in red letters).

The truth is, some items of clothing can often be associated with specific behaviours and qualities that can help you with your confidence, your assertiveness and your performance at work.

Funnily enough, the people who were told they were wearing lab coats performed better across the board, than those wearing the SAME items, but who were told that they were wearing an artist’s coat.

The researchers concluded that it’s not just the experience of WEARING the clothes, but the symbolic MEANING that the clothes actually held for the person wearing them.

Let’s say you work in an office environment. It’s likely that a well-tailored suit will often invoke feelings of strength, confidence and assertiveness. This is why most people within the corporate world adhere to a particular type of dress code.  For a trades person or a nurse though, that SAME item of clothing may bring on feelings of restriction, discomfort or pretension.  You see, it’s not the clothing ITSELF but what we THINK it signifies and what others BELIEVE it represents.

You see, it’s not the clothing ITSELF but what we THINK it signifies and what others BELIEVE it represents.

So what can you do to make sure the clothes you wear truly reflect YOUR confidence?

So, here’s our…

3 tips on how clothes affect your confidence:

1. Dress for Success

If you want to be viewed in a certain way, and you want to feel like you’re ready for that promotion or career change, dress for the part you want to fill.  If your clothing represents the role you want, you’ll be able to better picture yourself IN that role.  AND others will also have an insight into whether they THINK that role is the right ‘fit’ for you.

2. Stick to the 'Right-For-You' clothing

There’s no need to re-invent yourself or go through a major make-over every time. The best way to look, feel and act confident, is to wear the clothing that’s Right For You! Forget about what’s trending and what the celebrities wear.  Pick styles and colours that you KNOW make you look and FEEL great.  Remember, just because something looks great on one person, doesn’t mean that same look will translate across to someone else.

clothes affect your confidence

3. Be brave and authentic

If there’s something that you LOVE and you know it makes you look great and feel confident, then WEAR IT!  Don’t worry about what others might say or think.  Wear clothes that tell the world who you are and how you want (and deserve) to be treated.  Always wear clothes that make you feel comfortable… not just in the ‘practical’ sense.  And be sure that what you have on, on the outside, reflects how you want to feel on the inside. 

Essentially, knowing how clothes affect your confidence is the first step towards making a conscious choice in choosing the RIGHT clothing for you, to help you feel, act and BE the confident woman you want to be.

BE YOU!  And wear what makes you feel CONFIDENT!


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Jodie Bruce-Clarke and Anastasia Adams

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We’re Jodie & Anastasia and, through RiSe Women, we help women build confidence, stand tall and achieve whatever they want in their lives!

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