Building confidence from the outside in

LogoWhile it’s true that what we wear only enhances the beauty that comes from within, for most of us there is a direct correlation between how we look and how we feel about ourselves.

In a recent post, Sue Burpee who writes High Heels in the Wilderness, said that fashion blogging has given her greater self-confidence. Once very self-conscious about having her picture taken because she considered herself unphotogenic, blogging has given Sue a reason to accumulate and curate a collection of photos of herself that she’s very pleased with. Like anyone else, she can still have a confidence shattering moment when she walks by a mirror-like panel of tinted windows and catches her own reflection, but she has learned that it’s possible to build confidence from the outside in.

I have found the same thing. Sometimes posting multiple photos of myself and writing about what I wear can seem a bit narcissistic, but taking a greater interest in fashion and in my own appearance has definitely been a confidence booster.

Understanding how wearing the right clothing and accessories can contribute to our confidence, raise our self-esteem, and help us find greater success in the workplace has become big business. Image consultants and personal stylists assist everyone from celebrities to ordinary mortals rethink their wardrobes and make choices that enhance their appearance and boost their confidence.

Dressing for confidence doesn’t require wearing the latest fashion trends or spending a fortune on your wardrobe. Far from it. It’s simply a matter of knowing what looks best on you and what makes you feel good about yourself. Here are several things to keep in mind.

Learn to dress your body. What looks good on your friend may not suit you and vice versa. Though there are many different ways to describe body type, you can find a simple calculator here to help you determine which one of these 4 basic types best describes you. A quick search of “how to dress ____ body type” will lead you to many helpful tips and suggestions.

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I’m a banana! What are you?

Know which colours flatter you. Colours that suit your skin tone have the power to take your look from blah to radiant.

Consider the occasion. Whether you’re going to a business meeting, lunch with a friend, shopping, church or a gala event, what you wear should be tailored to the occasion. Your goal shouldn’t necessarily be to blend in, but you will feel much more confident if your outfit suits the occasion.

Consider your comfort zone. While I urge women to step outside their fashion comfort zone and try new looks, change can be intimidating. A complete makeover might be a confidence booster for some, but others of us need to take baby steps. Small changes can make a big difference.

Embrace your favourite features and downplay the ones you don’t want people to notice. You can find some good tips on how to flaunt your favourite features here.

Finally, think about a time when you felt great in what you wore. Think about the times when people complimented you on what you were wearing or how you looked. Chances are those occasions built your confidence from the outside in. What was it about those outfits that drew positive attention from others or made you feel so good? Was it a flattering neckline, the length of your skirt, the fabric, the colour, or maybe the shoes you wore? Perhaps you can implement something of those looks into what you wear for other occasions.