Dressing for Confidence! The psychology between clothing and self-confidence.

Perched precariously on the edge of the jetted tub surround, I watched as my mom got ready for the day. This was a regular occurrence with me sitting there, facing the mirror, my mother’s back to me, as I observed her every move. I must have been about ten or eleven years old, starting to recognize the difference between a girl and a woman (which back then pretty much just meant the difference between wearing makeup and not wearing makeup).

As I sat there, jabbering away about who knows what, my mother reached for the curling iron to put the last curl into what I describe as a woman’s version of the ever so popular mullet. She then unplugged the iron, reached for the Paul Mitchell setting spray, and put the finishing touches on her hair. She then turned and headed into the walk-in closet, selected a pair of earrings, and walked back out towards me. She tipped her head slightly and put the back onto her earring, took one last look in the mirror, reached for her favorite Estee Lauder pink lipstick, applied it, smiled and said, “Let’s go.”

Female child watching mother put on makeup


As I leaped off the edge of the tub to chase after her, she turned around, flipped the collar up on her blouse (remember….this was in the 80’s) and said to me “Shayna, it is always important to get yourself ready, so that when you leave the house, you look and feel your very best… Also, you never know who you’re going to run into”.

To this day, whenever my mother says, “Oh my goodness, you’ll never guess who I ran into at the grocery store,” I think back to that exact moment and it immediately brings a smile to my face.

Female child wearing mother's shoes

What I didn’t recognize at the time, but realized much later, was that my mom wasn’t vain or materialistic, she was confident! That comment was not her telling me I always had to be dressed up to leave the house, she was telling me to dress for confidence and that when you’re confident, you’ll always be at your best.

Dress Your Confidence!

How many of you have that “special” outfit that you KNOW you look good in? What is it about that outfit that gives you that extra pep in your step? Is it the way the jeans hug all the right places? Is it that dress that fits perfectly? Whatever it is, whenever you put that piece of clothing on you just feel good! Well, that feeling you have, that’s confidence. It’s also called enclothed cognition.

Aside from boosting your confidence, other psychological changes occur by wearing your favorite outfit. Scientists have found that the clothing we wear affects our behavior, attitudes, personality, mood, politics, biology, and even the way we interact with others. Let’s explore this a bit more.

Dress the Part

Researchers and our friends at Mic have found that certain clothes render different psychological responses. Here are some of their findings:

  • Negotiation! It’s All in the Suit

Want to be a better negotiator, wear a suit! A study in 2014 showed that participants who swapped their normal clothes for suits got better end-results in a simulated biotech deal to the tune of more than $2 million! The casually dressed men, on the other hand, lost $1.2 million.

  • Let Your Creative Juices Flow

Casual office wear can help break down silos between co-workers and create better collaboration, creativity, and teamwork. According to one study, research suggested that dressing down can lead to relaxed manners, relaxed morals, and relaxed productivity

  • Luxury = Conservatism

A study published by Yajin Wang from the University of Minnesota found that carrying a Louis Vuitton bag for just fifteen minutes made women perceive themselves as more politically conservative and adopt more fiscally conservative views compared to study participants issued a not-so-fancy bag. 

Louis Vuitton Bag

My confidence-boosting, go-to outfit is a beautiful, lilac-colored sheath dress from White House Black Market. Anyone who knows me knows that I love a good pencil skirt and this dress fits just like my favorite pencil skirt. Not too short, not too long, snug but not too tight, all business but a little sexy. I only pull this dress out on special occasions, but every time I do, I feel beautiful and like I can concur anything.

Lilac Dress

You’re not vain…it’s enclothed cognition

Once I found out that enclothed cognition is an actual “real thing,” I no longer shy away from the increased confidence I feel when I put on my favorite outfit or that perfect pair of heels. In fact, we should all use this to our advantage. Have a large presentation in front of the board of directors? Wear that special ass-kicking outfit. Negotiating your salary? Wear your favorite blouse. Whenever you need a boost, pull out your secret weapon, and with your newfound confidence, anything is possible. Dress Your Confidence!

Lilac Dress

I want to hear what special outfit, shoes, or accessories are your go-to for confidence boosting and why. Leave a note in the comments section below and share your confidence-maker with other amazing women!


Tristen Olson – Oh, the 5in Chanel pumps would make me feel amazing too! I’ve seen them and tried them on :). Love that whole look you described. All business (with a little fun red lip :)).

Shayna September 10, 2018

Absolutely spot on!! Verbatim 😊 I remember her getting ready too & her saying always make sure you look your best when you leave the house. You never know what can happen or who you will run into! Also a womans Clothes should be tight enough to show you’re a woman… but loose enough to show that you’re a Lady!! My go to sexy power outfit black pencil skirt, silk taylored blouse , 5in Chanel pumps Red lips. All business 💋

Tristen Olson September 09, 2018

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