Can you dress yourself happy? Style is absolutely a tool for empowerment and today we're diving into how your clothing choices can affect your mood and why you should be intentional about them. Now, I'm a huge proponent of the idea that happiness is a choice and I don't believe that the material fact of the correct clothing is all it takes to make you happy, but there is something powerful about clothing choices when it comes to how we feel and view ourselves — and it's something we can all benefit from tapping into.
I've been honored to be able to inspire so many women to be bolder with their style and find confidence through what they choose to wear. I've used colors and prints as my catalyst for empowerment through style, but there is a much deeper phenomenon going on when it comes to how the clothes we choose to wear affect our moods, overall confidence, and even health.
Quite literally dressed for success
Did you know that 96% of women in one study believed that what they wear affects how confident they feel? (source) It's not that hard to understand why: our clothing is the physical way we choose to present ourselves to the world — whether strangers on the street or our friends and colleagues.
❝ Style is extremely powerful in terms of influencing how we feel about ourselves or our capabilities.❞
Researchers from the University of Queensland found that more often than not, we dress how we’d like to feel or how we’d like others to think we’re feeling. Style is extremely powerful in terms of influencing how we feel about ourselves or our capabilities. We use our style to communicate how we're feeling to others and as women, our style is also usually fairly dependent on our mood — which is why you might throw on a bold lipstick if you're feeling confident or fun.
Another study published on the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology’s website found that wearing a piece of clothing can actually affect your cognitive processes when wearing a garment that has a strong cultural association with it. (source)
The whole phenomenon has a scientific name —“enclothed cognition” — which refers to how the clothes you choose to wear reflecting and affecting your mood, health, and confidence. Enclothed cognition “involves the co-occurrence of two independent factors — the symbolic meaning of the clothes and the physical experience of wearing them.” (source) Professor Karen J Pine broke this idea down a little more in her book when she writes that:
❝ When we put on a piece of clothing we cannot help but adopt some of the characteristics associated with it, even if we are unaware of it.❞ - Professor Karen J Pine, in Mind What You Wear
Wonder woman probably could have kicked a** in her pajamas, but instead she chose a pretty dang empowering outfit that helped her both look and feel powerful. You may not need armour, but you can still put on an outfit that is functional in terms of what you need to go out in the world and fight for your dreams.
Dress how you'd like to feel
So how does enclothed cognition affect your day-to-day style choices? First, it teaches us that your closet is not frivolous — it has power to help you feel confident and unlock the actual best version of yourself. It also means that the style choices you make should not only be intentional, but can be leveraged as a tool to boost your mood or confidence even on the days when you're not feeling it.
❝ Your closet is not frivolous — it has power to help you feel confident and unlock the actual best version of yourself.❞
It's a total fake-it-til-you make it scenario, but it really works. When you take time to dress the part, it can actually encourage your mood and confidence level which then can give you that extra motivation to become who you're dressed to be. I'm not saying you can totally dress your way to success, but I am saying its a real-life tool that you might be missing out on if you're just dressing based on trends or based on what you think people want to see.
There can be so much intentionality behind an outfit that goes way deeper than just putting together a cute look. I think it's more than time for us as women to talk about the deeper phenomenon of what style is vs. just the surface level of what is cute or on sale. I love that stuff too and it's key to share those secrets & recs, but going a little deeper is a simple but amazingly empowering thing.
Style yourself happy
My go-to for garments that can help boost my mood and confidence are pieces with color or a fun print. If you know anything about my style, you're well aware that I'm a color and prints enthusiast and I LOVE a pop of color or fun print. Not only are colors and prints a central part of my personal style, they're a really big passion for me in terms of using style as a tool to empower other women. I'm constantly getting direct messages about certain outfits from women talking about how they wish they could pull off a certain color or pattern.
Bold colors and prints are often the most obvious first step for becoming more daring with your style, and they can be such a great tool for stretching yourself out of your comfort zone and trying new pieces you wouldn't normally opt for. That process of bravely trying something new or being just a little more adventurous goes hand in hand with the science-backed idea that clothing can be used to empower or influence your mood.
❝ Colors & patterns are your closet's best tools to helping you build an outfit that gives you confidence and a positive outlook.❞
Color is just so expressive which is why I'm all about using it to convey my mood or help get me into a cheerful mindset. Pink would have to be my go-to hue since a light pink can help me convey elegance and a bright and bold pink is a perfect pick for when I'm feeling sassy or confident. Patterns are also perfect visual communicators. Something about a polka dot pattern just always looks fun and lighthearted while a floral pattern can feel cheerful and sophisticated.
Next time you're flipping through your closet to choose your outfit, reach for pieces with intentionality and use your unique personal style as a tool to help you show up powerfully as yourself in your day to day.
photography by jenna sparks
Have some advice for using style to empower? How do your own style choices affect your mood? Leave a comment below, or use #NeverSkipBrunch
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