Wearing What You Really Want Gives You *This* Kind Of Benefit, According To Psychology
I had to leave or I’d be really late but I didn’t know what to wear. Well, I did know what I wanted to wear but I also knew that it was too much for the party. I’d bought this cute vintage dress a couple of weeks before but had only worn it while dancing around in my room. I ended up throwing on my usual combination of mom jeans and a cropped top. I felt kind of frumpy in it but it was more ‘acceptable’ and off I went safe in the knowledge that no one would judge my choices.
Why do we care so much about what others think?
I have a wonderful friend who is so fiercely herself that she both inspires and intimidates me at the same time. During a cacao ceremony we did together, she told me that a few years ago she made a vow to herself that she would always wear what she wanted to, whatever the situation—and she’s never looked back. I would often see her wearing a slinky dress around campus or turning up to a party in a fluffy sweater. This inspired me and I often think back to this conversation when I’m stuffing the outfit I want to wear back into the drawer.
How does she do it? How does she just walk around not caring what anyone else thinks? And why is it so difficult to shake that fear that others are going to judge you?
No one really does care
Sure, I’ve seen some pretty out-there outfits in my time, but I’ve mainly just thought “wow, I wish I could pull something like that off!” and then I have forgotten all about it. I definitely don’t laugh about it for hours and think how embarrassing it is for that person. Most of the time, other people are so busy caring about what others think of them that they’re not thinking about other people. And, who cares if they are thinking about what you’re doing? I know you’ve probably heard this as many times as I have, but it really does say more about them than it does about you and that judgment often comes from a sense of insecurity.
Wearing what makes us feel good does wonders for our mental health
When you’re wearing an outfit that you feel absolutely incredible in, you often act with more confidence, feel happier and achieve far more. Which is why learning to get past the fear and wearing what we want to is such an important act of self-love. What we wear is a form of self-expression and creativity: it tells the world who we are. When we are wearing something that we feel less-than in, just because we don’t want to outshine someone else, or through fear of being the ‘odd one out,’ this shows in our body language and the way we act. Our outfits even impact our performance in a very real way: now iconic 2005 study published in Nature found that sports teams were more likely to win while wearing red than other colors.
Maybe red is that power color for you or another shade helps you channel your best self; or maybe you feel strong and in charge in 5″ heels, or sensible, walk-all-day boots. We are doing ourselves an injustice when we deny ourselves the joy and pleasure of wearing an outfit that we feel like a true goddess in.
In Mind What You Wear: The Psychology of Fashion, Professor Karen J. Pine at the University of Hertfordshire (U.K.) explains that when we wear a particular piece of clothing, “we take on some of the characteristics associated with it.” So if we are wearing something that we associate with confidence and beauty, we will embody these characteristics and they will shine through us.
Scientists even have a name for how the clothing we wear can reflect and affect our mood, health and confidence: “enclothed cognition.”
How to step into your light and start wearing what makes you feel beautiful
Learning to gain enough self-confidence to wear what you want is both incredibly simple and difficult. Basically, the way to start wearing what makes you feel incredible regardless of the occasion is to do just that—start wearing what makes you feel incredible. Simple right?
The hard part is overcoming those voices in your head that talk you down from putting on that gorgeous outfit and strutting out to get a coffee. The trick to getting over that is to start small.
I recently went out for coffee with the friend I mentioned previously. She was wearing a gorgeous jumpsuit and a really bold necklace. That night I was going to a family party, and really wanted to embody my friend’s confidence. The problem is, I feel like families can be our biggest critics. I decided to test the waters: I put on my new vintage dress, played my favorite song and danced to get myself pumped, then went into my mum’s room. She looked at me and said “you look nice” and that was it. At the party, I felt super confident and got so many compliments. I’d built this all up in my head, made it a big deal and it was nothing. Something as small as wearing something I felt good in made me feel empowered and I had a glow of self-love surrounding me the entire night.
Next time you have the perfect outfit to wear, take some deep breaths, do something that makes you feel empowered, put it on and notice how you feel. Sure, you might feel slightly self-conscious at first, but as time passes that will melt away and you’ll start to shine. Just remember that those self-limiting thoughts are just thoughts, they’re not true and they don’t define you.
Why this is important for both our wellbeing and society
Wearing what makes us shine is not only really important for our own wellbeing and happiness but also for everyone else. When people see you living in your truth it inspires and gives them the confidence to do it themselves. On top of this, it helps to normalize unique displays of fashion and can help to remove any taboo or judgment surrounding certain clothing. Think of it as the ultimate act of GRL PWR (or man power!)
I can’t wait to see you all glowing!
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