The Power of Clothing Over Our Minds
Clothing has the power to influence our minds.
Now, that statement may sound a bit dramatic. Perhaps you’re a bit skeptical at the notion that what you wear really, truly matters in the whole grand scheme of things.
If so, I get it.
I mean, I didn’t always realize how much clothing can have an impact on how I show up in this world.
Have I always loved fashion?
Well, yes. Guilty as charged.
Fashion’s always been a passion of mine, even as a youngster. I was that kid who fought her Mom tooth-and-nail to wear what she wanted to wear, loved getting gussied up for any occasion, dog-eared trendy magazines for beauty inspiration, and watched What Not To Wear in my free time.
But did I see POWER in clothing or personal style?
Or at least, I didn’t used to.
Back in the day, I just thought of my clothing-and-beauty-related interests as a mere passion. An insignificant and frivolous hobby.
My view on that, however, has since changed.
Why I Believe The Clothes We Wear Matter
Today, I stand by the belief that what we chose to wear really does matter. NOT because we need to:
- Look a certain way in order to be beautiful.
- Or keep up with the latest trends in order to be respected or admired.
- Or dress to impress in order for our voice to matter in this world.
I say it matters because…
Our clothing has the power to impact how we think, feel, and act.
Not only does my own personal experience attest to this fact.
But also, scientific studies have shown that the clothes we wear impacts several psychological factors, including (but not limited to) our emotions, self-evaluations, attitudes, personalities, and self-confidence.
This, in turn, also impacts how we perform, show up in this world, and even interact with others.
Well, okay then.
So, our clothes really do have the power to influence us.
Well, heck, since that’s the case?
I’d say it’s probably worth having a look at that wardrobe.
Don’t you think?
Friend, I want to help you make your closet a more fun and friendlier place.
So, this week, we’re gonna focus on updating your closet a bit to help you dress for success…at least, from a mental-health and self-confidence perspective. 🙂
Ready for this?
OK, then. Let’s go ahead and get started.
Body Confidence Challenge: Step 10
Note: The following exercise is Step 10 (of 10) of a Body Confidence Challenge I’ve been walking Tribe Insiders through the past several weeks. Interested in catching all 10-steps? Click here to download my FREE Body Confidence Guide. By signing up, you will also gain free access to the Body Confidence Challenge page, which walks you through all 10 exercises step-by-step.
Step 10: Create a Friendly Wardrobe
The other week, I walked us through an exercise to help us weed out potential triggers from our closets. Such as clothing that is too small or otherwise causes us to feel self-conscious, uncomfortable, or hyper-aware of our bodies. (This exercise is covered in Step 9 of the Body Confidence Challenge.)
That “weeding out” process was the hard part of our wardrobe update.
Now it’s time for the FUN part.
This week, we’re gonna focus on adding in some new clothes that serve you.
Our goal here is to make sure your closet is filled with items that help you feel more comfortable (and I dare say…even confident) in the skin you’re already in.
Our focus will be on finding clothing that not only FITS and FEELS GOOD on your current (as-is) body; but also, clothes that ROCK your personal style and make you feel EXCITED to wear.
Below I’ve included some tips to help guide your clothing search & selection process.
Now, I know this step may seem silly…perhaps even a bit trivial.
But I think you’ll find a few updates and simple tweaks to your wardrobe can do wonders in your self-confidence and body acceptance journey.
I know it has for me. And I think it will for you, too.
Tip #1: Honor comfort.
Look for items that are comfortable and make YOU feel good in YOUR body. (For example, select soft fabrics, colors that brighten up your features, and styles that work for your specific body type.)
Tip #2: Focus on what YOU like and items that fit YOUR body.
For example, you do NOT need to wear the latest trend if it’s “just not your thing,” doesn’t honor your body, or makes you feel self-conscious in any way.
Tip #3: Keep it simple and build up staples.
You can get the most bang out of less when you pick clothing items you can easily mix-and-match. I personally love to 1) stock up on new things that work with my already existing wardrobe and/or 2) purchase pieces I know I’ll get a lot of use out of.
For example, I love solid t-shirts I can layer and neutral-colored jackets that go with just-about-anything. Some places I love to stock up on staples include: Everlane, Madewell, and Marine Layer. (See also Bonus Tip #1 below for more on this.)
Tip #4: Consider splurging on some higher ticket items you LOVE.
Treat yourself to few special pieces you absolutely ADORE: things that are made well (i.e., high quality) and you know you’ll find yourself wearing over-and-over again.
For example, I have a few long sweater jackets (like this B&W speckled Birdseye Cardigan from Marine Layer). I’m obsessed with these jackets and wear them all the time because they’re comfortable, yet stylish, and go with just about anything.
Tip #5: Explore your own personal style and have fun with it!
One way to build up confidence is by honoring our own preferences and daring to color outside of the lines. A great way to practice this is by wearing whatever we want…and giving no flips about what others may think! 😉 Personally, I’ve found it to be very empowering to “dress for myself” and use it as a form of self-expression, rather than trying to dress to impress. I think you’ll find the same if you try this strategy on for size for yourself. (See also Bonus Tip #2 below for more on this.)
Tip #6: Consider your lifestyle and your own specific needs.
Before making a clothing purchase, I recommend asking yourself, “Is this conducive to my ‘usual’ everyday life? Will this be something I get a lot of use out of and wear often?”
For example, here in SF, we generally have “fall-like” weather year-round. So, for me, that means more layers (e.g., jackets, sweaters, etc.) and less “warm-weather” clothing (e.g., sundresses, shorts, etc.).
For items I won’t use as much (i.e., “strictly summer” items), I like to “sprinkle.” I may allow myself a summer item here or there (especially when I’m traveling someplace warm); but in general, I tend to focus my purchases on items I know I can wear year-round here in SF (i.e., things I can layer or use to layer).
Why does being more selective serve you?
Well, for one, (1) you’ll end up spending way less (score!). But more importantly, it’ll (2) cut down on the time you spend trying on clothes and figuring out to wear and also (3) help you avoid potential agonizing moments when you pull out something you haven’t worn in ages and find it no longer fits.
Keep it practical, keep it tidy: your budget and mental sanity will thank you.
Tip #7: Wear clothing that makes you think LESS about your body.
One HUGE step in building positive body image is focusing less on the appearance of our bodies. We don’t want the way our bodies look to dictate how we view/value ourselves or show up in this world.
One thing that has been key in my own body confidence journey is wearing clothes that make me think about my body less and less. For example, I love maxi dresses (like this), jumpsuits (like that), or pants with some give (like these).
Oh, and also? For those times when I pull something on and it feels a bit more snug than it had previously or I notice it’s bothering me in some way? I change immediately (even if it still technically “fits.”
To protect myself from a potential emotional trigger. I don’t need a physical reminder of body changes (perceived or real) raining on my parade.
Friend. I highly suggest you give this tip a go. You can still wear things that “look cute” and stylish. But, aim to do so in a way that keeps your body AND mind happy. For me, that means clothes that make me think about my body LESS. Perhaps you’ll find the same.
Some Last Words
Remember, Friend, body acceptance is a journey. This is certainly not a race, so you have permission to go at your own pace. Just continue taking one step after another and keep on practicing those positive body image skills. It will get easier and it will get better, it just takes time.
As you implement (and practice) the steps in the Body Confidence Challenge, I hope you find yourself feeling more accepting of (and confident in) your “as-is” body.
At the very least, I hope these exercises help you begin to think less about your body and free up some mind space so you can focus your attention on the things you’re truly passionate about.
(Oh, and by all means: take what works for you from this challenge…and leave the rest. You do what works for you, Friend!)
PS: I’ve got some BONUS TIPS for you below. Keep scrolling to check ’em out.
PPS: Haven’t had a chance to do all 10 steps of this Body Confidence Challenge? No worries. You can visit the Body Confidence Challenge page with all 10 exercises any time you’d like.
BONUS TIP #1:
In Tip #3 above, I discussed keeping it simple and building up basics. One key thing that has helped me out BIG TIME with my personal wardrobe is focusing on having LESS that works with MORE.
One way to do this is by sticking to more basic items (such as those that I can layer and mix-and-match) to make sure I get the most use out of my clothing.
To keep it “fresh” and express my own personal style, I choose to accessorize. I use things like fun headbands, a playful shoe, colorful scarfs, or accent jewelry. I also still buy “eclectic” and unique pieces that speak to me now-and-again. But I try to limit those items and ask myself, “How much use will I get out of this?”
I find having fewer options helps me spend way less time picking out something to wear…and the less I fuss, the less I stress. I think you’ll find the same.
BONUS TIP #2:
In Tip #5 above, I encouraged you to go ahead and explore your own personal style and dare to color outside of the lines. This may sound silly, but practice honoring our own preferences and personalities through our wardrobe choices can help us build more confidence.
Here’s a personal example. I was shopping a while back and saw a rainbow jumpsuit I was immediately drawn to it. I loved it, but I almost passed up buying it because I thought, “I can’t wear that, can I? It might be too out there. What would people think?”
Those last three words…what would people think…were what inspired me to go ahead and purchase it.
I reminded myself: I like it, I feel good in it, so I can…and will rock this, despite what others may think. So I bought it – and I choose to rock it – even though it always gets a few head-scratches from others. Each time I pull on that jumpsuit, I’m reminding myself that my preferences matter and I don’t need to prove anything to anyone. And man, does that make me feel ready to take on the world.
So I encourage you to experiment for yourself. Maybe even start with something small like a cute headband or a whimsical shoe that screams “fun.” You just do you.
The more we honor our preferences and the less we based our decisions based on what others may or may not think, the more we grow in confidence.