What Does Your Wardrobe Say About You

Colleen Slaughter
June 12, 2015 — 3,125 views  
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“Be proud of your assets, not ashamed of your flaws.”

– Liana Chaouli

If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I write extensively about the topic of self-confidence. Today, I want to talk about a sometimes-overlooked area related to that topic: the power of your wardrobe.

Have you ever worn an outfit that made you feel confident and ready to take on whatever comes your way? As it turns out, you’re not just imagining that empowered feeling you have when you rock your favorite dress or suit…

You Are What You Wear

According to an article in Vogue, a study published on the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology’s website found that participants who wore white coats that they believed belonged to doctors actually performed better on tests than those who wore only street clothes, or those who believed the coats were instead associated with artists.

Vogue author Katherine Bernard explains, “It’s no secret that assembling an outfit is like selecting social armor, and that what we wear has power over others (if there weren’t truth to the cliché “lady in red”, designers wouldn’t be making so many scarlet dresses), but this study shows if you have a strong cultural association with a garment, wearing it can affect your cognitive processes.”

There’s a term that describes the “systematic influence that clothes have on the wearer’s psychological processes”, and it’s called enclothed cognition. For instance, if your brain associates certain designers or articles of clothing with smart, successful women, you also are likely to take on those qualities when you wear that type of clothing.

Basic Wardrobe Principles

Here are some “Laws of Dressing” adapted from Liana Chaouli, President and Founder of Image Therapists International, Inc., and an internationally recognized speaker and educator.

 

 

  • If your outfit is getting more attention than you are, choose a different one. You want people to take notice of who you are, not what you are wearing. Think of it this way: Do you want someone to remember you for what you said or did that was impactful? Or, do you want to be remembered as that person who stole the show in an eye-popping, splashy red suit?

 

 

Make sure your wardrobe is working as hard as you are. Help people focus on you – your message, your talents, your best attributes – by dressing authentically.

 

 

  • Say goodbye to old/worn out garments. Yes, I know…we all have a favorite garment that we just don’t want to let go of. It could be the khaki pants you’ve had since 1998, or that super-soft cashmere twinset that has one (okay, maybe two) teeny little holes you’re sure no one notices.

 

 

The point is – most people do take notice of what we’re wearing, more than we realize. If it’s challenging for you to discard your favorite worn-out garments, just remember that how you “look” on the outside reflects how you feel on the inside. Don’t let worn out clothes make a wrong first impression – get rid of them today!

 

 

  • Follow the one-year rule. Dive into your closet and pluck out all the pieces you haven’t worn in a year (or more). Look over each item, asking yourself why you haven’t worn it. Did you forget it was there? Is it unflattering? Do you just dislike it for whatever reason? Can you revitalize it with the right accessory pieces? Or, is it old and outdated?

 

 

If you can revitalize a classic piece with the perfect accessory, great. But if you know you’ll never wear the garment again, donate or discard it.

Undoubtedly, some fields accept and even embrace an offbeat style of dress. Mainstream business and academic worlds, in general, do not. Can you picture a powerful C-level exec wearing ill-fitting polyester pants and a flashy shirt? Of course not, and for good reason.

Whether you’ve just been promoted or you’re stepping into unfamiliar territory by starting a business of your own, get to know the dress code of the environment you’re in. This will help people will remember you for you – and not for the outfit you were wearing!

Colleen Slaughter

Authentic Leadership International

Colleen founded ALI in 2009 and coaches people both in the U.S. and abroad. She has a proven track record of helping her clients achieve change by helping them to identify, connect and ultimately act on their core values.