5 Tips For Dressing Confidently

5 Tips For Dressing Confidently
[Meredith Sell]

Starting my first professional job after college, I had a problem. I’d never enjoyed dressing up, and I had no choice but to do so five days a week.

The vast majority of my wardrobe were T-shirts, athletic shorts, and sweatpants — what I’d lived in for most of my college career. And most of what I owned that was appropriate for work I didn’t really like.

I had …

  • one pair of nice, comfortable khaki pants
  • a pants suit that was too dressed up for my office, and
  • an assortment of pullover sweaters that fit me in a whole variety of ways.

Over time I built up my professional wardrobe according to my own tastes. But for a while, I went to work each day and did my best to forget about my appearance as I worked beside women who carried themselves with confidence in clothes they didn’t seem preoccupied with.

Here are a few things I learned along the way about dressing for confidence:

One – Comparison really is the thief of joy.

I worked closely with a graphic designer who dressed herself, I thought, extremely well. She was a really sweet person, but my constant internal comparison of my baggy sweater and uncomfortable dress pants to whatever-she-was-wearing started eating away at my self-confidence.

Take inspiration from the clothing choices of others, but don’t let your observations turn into self-destructive comparison.

Two – Dress your body.

There are styles that look great on some bodies and terrible on others. I like the look of long, flowy sweaters, but they just don’t work on me. (In fact, at Christmas, my sister and I traded the sweaters our mom gave us because her body wears long and flowy sweaters better than mine.)

Rather than getting stuck on all the styles you can’t wear, find the ones you can and wear them proudly. They look good on you.

Three – If it’s not comfortable, don’t buy it. Even if it looks good.

When you’re not looking in a mirror (which hopefully is most of the time), you’ll be feeling how uncomfortable it is and that will translate into your body language, posture, and how you carry yourself.

You won’t exude confidence if you’re uncomfortable. So leave those shoes, those pants, that pencil skirt, that shirt in the store and let somebody else waste their money on them.

Four – Find your colors and own them.

For me, this happened accidentally. I really like orange, purple, and teal (not necessarily together) so that’s what I’m drawn to whether I’m shopping at TJ Maxx or Goodwill. And those colors happen to work with my skin tone. WIN.

If you’re not sure what colors will work best for you, ask a friend who would actually know or do this quiz.

Five – Quit worrying about what other people think.

No one is thinking about your appearance as much as you (and if they are, that’s their problem). You’re not in this world to be “easy on the eyes.” You have so much more to offer: your gifts, your talents, your passions. So when you get up in the morning and you have “nothing to wear,” remember that clothing will not make or break your life. Put on something that fits, matches, and is comfortable, and move on to what matters most.

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