A few days ago I read an article by Jonathan O’Callaghan called “You are what you dress”. This article summarizes the research carried out by Professor Karen Pine from the University of Hertfordshire, regarding effects of different types of clothing on self-esteem.
For example, one of the tests showed that groups wearing a Superman costume were more confident, both mentally and physically. More details of this research can be found in the new book “Mind What You Wear”.
It reminded me of my own experience using clothes to boost my comfort or confidence levels. I first noticed this effect that clothes have on us, when I changed schools as a teenager. My new school uniform wasn’t the prettiest and didn’t sit nicely on me. You can probably imagine that this wasn’t helping me to cope with the stress of a new school in a new country with a foreign language.
I felt quite uncomfortable and lost, not because of how I looked in the uniform, but in general. Until one day, when we had a school event, where we could come dressed in our usual clothes.
I didn’t pick anything fancy, just a pair of jeans and a black sweater that I liked, but I suddenly felt strong and confident, like my old self, wearing this simple outfit around the same people. That’s how I realized that clothes are more than just fashion, that clothes can help make us feel however we want.
I kept experimenting, noticing how different colors, patterns and fabrics make me feel and created my personal outfit recipes for different moods and needs, which I keep using ever since.
One of the recipes I have is for those times, when you feel alone, anxious and unprotected in the outside world. And here are the steps I follow to choose clothes that make me feel well-dressed, but secure anywhere:
1. Pick the right color – Go for dusted and light colors, which have a soothing psychological effect. Try finding your power color – color which makes you feel the strongest, when you wear it. I usually mix shades of gray, beige, or dark blue with my power color – black.
2. Mix soft and hard fabrics – To feel cozier, I choose softer fabrics to be closer to the body, while harder and thicker fabrics for wearing on top.
3. Mind the patterns – I prefer monotonous clothes in this case, because it creates a feeling of a shield for me.
4. Choose length and coverage – Leave your short skirts and deep cut blouses in the wardrobe. Go for maxi dresses, long sleeves and all sorts of scarfs. Yes, covering up can also be fashionable, elegant and attractive.
5. Decide on best fit – One mistake to avoid – don’t choose over-sized clothes. It can be flowing and loose, but it should be your size, in order to make you feel pretty and more confident.
6. Use accessories – Hats, glasses, gloves, scarfs and even hoods are your friends, depending on the season, if you want an extra protection layer.
7. Dress pretty – It may sound like common sense, but all too often people who feel insecure are trying to hide themselves under the layers of boring and unattractive garments. But this recipe is not for dressing to scare or push people away. And it is possible to be dressed nicely and with taste, but feel secure. So choose good looking, modern and well-made clothes.
Check out these simple looks to get inspiration.