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Dressing For Your Best Self

By Natalie Hickey

Photo by Pinterest

In a society with never-ending access to social media that often results in comparisons at our fingertips, it isn’t a surprise that negative body self-image rates have risen. An appalling 91% of women are unhappy with their bodies, which is still quite disheartening.

With a large focus on social media pertaining to “fashion,” “style,” and “OOTDs,” it would seem to be a straightforward assumption that some of this dissatisfaction could be directly attributed to the way one chooses to dress. After all, not only can it be discouraging when your body may not “feel perfect,” but when you combine that with an overwhelming amount of clothing options that may not always feel “just right,” it can quickly become a rabbit hole of self-doubt and disappointment.

However, while choosing what to wear and attempting to style oneself can most certainly lead to stress and personal insecurity, I firmly believe that the answer lies in dressing for yourself. It seems that science tends to agree — “Enclothed cognition” refers to the phenomenon whereby the clothing one is wearing can affect that person's psychological state, mood, and behavior. Studies have shown that individuals may feel more confident wearing a “professional outfit” such as a suit and conversely more comfortable and relaxed in casual clothing such as loungewear. So, if we feel comfortable and confident, in turn, we will be able to live better!

But how can we feel comfortable and confident in our clothing? This can be an overwhelming concept for many to tackle, but there are a few ways to break it down and make it much simpler.

“A Uniform”

Before you give up on this idea with flashbacks to private school uniforms of plaid and emblazoned crests rushing through your mind, hear me out! However, more importantly, consider that some of the most “universally best dressed” individuals – celebrities such as Matilda Djerf, Elsa Hosk, and Julia Roberts - have either admitted to wearing a uniform or creating their own personal version of one to follow.

The key to a uniform is to find the staples you find the most comfortable and confident in and then to build outfits around them. For example, if you feel your best in a pantsuit, invest in a few good blazers and trousers and build your wardrobe around those items. If jeans and a top are more your style, then prioritize staple jeans and tops that fit your mood and style. Remember, accessories can completely change an outfit, so as long as you feel comfortable in your base the rest will naturally flow along!

“Your Color Palette”

Figure out your colors! Choose the colors that you are naturally drawn to and invest in pieces of that color. Then, add in your favorite complimentary hues to create unique color combinations that are special to the occasion or mood you are in. You will feel self-assured and in turn will be more positive.

“Prioritizing fit”

I cannot say how many times I have bought a pair of popular jeans that I “needed,” that simply did not feel right — and that I still forced myself to wear either due to the financial investment or the label associated with it. It is so easy to fall into the trap of the “perfect pair of jeans,” when in reality, everyone will have a different pair of perfect jeans! Jeans and all other clothing pieces work differently for everyone, so making sure that you pick pieces that you genuinely feel fit nicely and are confident in is the best way to go, rather than buying what everyone else has.

So, the overall lesson of "enclothed cognition" is to choose the clothing that fits, flatters, and feels the most YOU. Dress for yourself; not for the label, not for the style, and certainly not for the trend. Find what works best for YOU, and that will make YOU feel your best.

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