The topic of women’s confidence has been popping up everywhere in my life lately. Blog posts and book reviews landing in my inbox. Conversations with women, both at work and in social situations.
And the clincher, the example that really grabbed my attention?
The interview I did less than a fortnight ago with a big time Australian author, coach and speaker on developing confidence. She will use our interview as bonus content in a career enhancement program she offers.
During the interview, our focus was mainly on how women might build confidence in the corporate environment (a topic at the heart of my day job). But eventually we touched on the topic of style – because for so many of us, how we present ourselves to the world is absolutely linked to how confident we feel.
It is easy downplay the links between how we are dressed and our confidence levels. Some might suggest that it is superficial. But I disagree. Style and confidence are absolutely linked. We all know that when we think we have nailed an outfit we also feel we can take on the world.
At least for that day.
Because the opposite is also true. Throw on any old thing, rush your hair and make-up and there is a strong chance that you’ll be feeling less confident. Especially if something unexpected happens – like an urgent meeting with your boss or you run into your ex-husband’s new wife.
So the question naturally arises. How can you use style to support your confidence?
Understand Your Triggers – And Dress To Negate Them
If we take a moment or two to connect with ourselves, we know the people and situations that can rock our confidence. A presentation or big meeting at work. A family lunch at the home of your gorgeous sister-in-law. Checking in to a 5-star hotel – or simply eating at their swanky restaurant. These are the days that you need to take extra care with your appearance and create an outfit that looks so good, you don’t have to give it another thought. An outfit that underpins your confidence for the day.
But what about the days when the triggers pop up out of the blue? While you don’t always have to be dressed to the nines, it is worth taking the time to build outfits that won’t leave you feeling bad about yourself if an unexpected trigger crosses your path. An added benefit is that you’ll become known for always looking pulled together. And there are worse things to be known for in the world of style.
Listen To What You Are Telling Yourself About How You Look
Understand that you spend all of your time with you and that is important to watch what you say to yourself. Women are often their own worst enemies, repeatedly telling themselves that they’ve dressed inappropriately, or that they look fat or ugly or something equally nasty.
If you catch yourself saying something in your own mind that you wouldn’t say to your best friend then stop and examine your thoughts. Challenging yourself as to whether your thoughts are fair and accurate is usually a good place to start – because often your thoughts are neither fair nor accurate. And yet many women believe that they are. A kind and honest chat with yourself can sometimes turn your confidence around.
Another option to deal with your own confidence sapping thoughts is to switch your focus immediately to one thing you like about your appearance – however small. Compliment yourself on your perfect lip colour or your cute shoes. Remember that like attract like – so one positive thought is likely to bring on a whole lot more, which will in turn increase your confidence.
Remember What You Were Wearing When You’ve Been At Your Most Confident
It is easy to look back on the days where our confidence wasn’t so great – and beat ourselves up. But a more empowering trick is to remember the days when your style confidence was sky-high and to learn the associated lessons. What were you wearing on that day? Think about that particular outfit carefully. What was it that left you feeling so great? Was it the comfortable cut of your jacket? The colour combination? The height of your heels? Whatever it was, look for ways to incorporate those confidence boosting elements into future outfits.
French Women, Style And Confidence
Using style to boost confidence is one area that French women seem to have nailed. And whether it is true confidence or perhaps attitude as one of my favourite Distant Francophile readers once suggested, French women do seem to understand the link between dressing well and the projection of confidence.
What do I mean by dressing well? At the very least, this means incorporating two key basics into your look. Firstly, choose clothing with a flattering fit, items that suit your body shape. And secondly, select colours that bring out the best in your skin and hair tone. If you’d like to learn more, make sure you check out two recent posts here and here.
I’d love to hear some of the ways you’ve used style to boost your confidence. Please share them in the comments section below.
And until next time – au revoir.
Photograph taken in Paris by Carla Coulson.
5 thoughts on “The Link Between Style And Confidence”
I love that photo of you guys with those wonderful vintage valises!
French women aim for style, not fashion, which usually means classics. They also don’t try too hard, which means not overdoing anything (it doesn’t mean not trying or being completely relaxed!).
As you say, dressing appropriately for your body type means you’ll feel comfortable in your clothes. Both comfortable psychologically–they are flattering–and physically–they aren’t too tight/loose in the wrong places.
I have seen my French neighbors working in the garden wearing color-coordinated outfits that look great. Earrings and makeup on. They don’t do it to impress, because they figured they wouldn’t see anyone. They do it for themselves.
That said, the best accessories are good posture and a confident smile.
Thank you so much Catherine for your thoughts on one of my favourite photos of Scott and I. Thanks too for your advice on French style – dressing for yourself is key to confidence. And I agree with your thinking on posture – it really does make all the difference. So much so, it has just occurred to me that I must get around to writing about it one day.
I love everything about this post.
As you say, we are at our best when we dress to feel polished and confident – but when I left the working world to stay at home with my new son several decades ago, this was an enormous challenge! It was all I could do to get clean and dressed in the morning, much less polished – and I live in an urban community where it is inevitable to run into people I know whenever I leave the house. I was depressed and discouraged; I knew that my random clothing choices were affecting my mood and confidence.
One morning, I watched my naval officer husband get dressed without having to make a single choice, and of course he looked great in his uniform. I suddenly realized that what I needed was a simple “personal uniform” for my days at home. The concept has served me well for three decades now, even though the specifics of my everyday ‘uniform’ have changed from time to time.
A ‘personal uniform’ for home can be anything that is comfortable, flattering, and eliminates the need to think about what to wear. That is the key: there should be few or no choices to be made, just like a real uniform.
My current personal uniform is skinny jeans with ballet flats or classic lowtop Chuck Taylors (boots if it is cold), and a plain white shirt or a simple fine gauge sweater in a solid color. This works for virtually any activity from mopping the floor to doing family paperwork to running to the post office. Each morning, I take a pair of my identical jeans and the top sweater from the stack on the shelf (or the front white shirt from the closet rack). When I leave the house, I usually add a scarf.
I begin each day by applying just a little natural makeup at the same time I brush my teeth in the morning – a touch of black/brown mascara and a subtle lipstick. This minimal enhancement takes less than a minute, and adds polish to my daily ‘uniform’.
A pair of very small hoops or plain gold or pearl studs completes the look. I keep these simple earrings in a dish in the bathroom for no-thought-needed accessibility.
My ‘uniform’ is easy, flattering and comfortable to wear, and I feel confident when I am wearing it. Having tops and scarves in different colors varies the look without complicating the process. I can dress in five minutes, and I never worry about who I might run into or who might come to the door.
This has worked wonderfully for me – perhaps it is a concept that will work for someone else, also.
(P.S. I will second the compliment to your ‘vintage valises’! They are delightful and add some style and fun to the utilitarian need to tote one’s things about.)
What wonderful advice Janelle! It applies no less to those of us who have retired. I ended up with a wardrobe full of neat little suits that I once wore to work – not so good for the more casual days of retirement! They have gradually been weeded out with only my favourite remaining ‘just in case’. But at home I like to know I can respond to an invitation or open the front door to someone without having to first rush to the wardrobe or make-up mirror. Knowing you look good – in comfortable and appropriate clothes (and make-up) – means you can forget about yourself and ‘take on the world’.