Many of us will, at some point, struggle with confidence in the world of work. In fact, in one recent survey of UK workers, nearly 60% of respondents said they had experienced feelings of imposter syndrome. These feelings of self-doubt and unworthiness are incredibly common, and nearly twice as many women experience this compared to men.
But what does this have to do with how you dress? The way you dress can have a huge impact on how you feel on the inside, whether that’s in your day-to-day life or in the workplace. One of the main benefits of having a personal style and fashion is that it gives you the freedom to express your personality and creativity in a way that makes you feel confident in yourself. On top of this, what you’re wearing is usually the first impression you make on other people.
When you think of dressing professionally, smart suits and dresses may come to mind. You might also recall the huge shoulder pads associated with power dressing, a style which rose to prominence in the 70s and 80s. These days, there tends to be more room to play around and be bold with your style. Power dressing is no longer a set style as much as it is about dressing in a way that makes you feel powerful. So, with that being said, let’s take a look at how you can dress for confidence at work.
Wear confident colours
There’s not necessarily a single colour that signifies confidence. Black and white are the colours typically associated with workwear, giving your look a professional, authoritative edge.
Meanwhile, yellow is positivity, energy, and optimism. Wearing yellow at work can boost your self-esteem and convey feelings of cheerfulness and enthusiasm. If the thought of wearing a bright solid block of attention-grabbing yellow is unappealing, try toning it down by choosing a stripy pattern or layering it with grey pieces. You can also wear different shades depending on the season, like warm mustard for winter and sunshine yellow for spring.
Want to go even bolder? Try reds and bright pinks. These are the colours that symbolise strength and passion. Wear red to feel in charge and totally on top of your day. On the other hand, blue is one of the most calming colours. Choosing to wear a shade of blue may not be as bright and bold as other colours, but it can project serene and quiet confidence.
All colours can carry different meanings that can affect you and those around you, so you should choose what to wear depending on the occasion.
Patterns and shapes
Although the idea behind power dressing has changed a lot over time, some of the shapes and cuts are still a great way to feel confident in what you’re wearing. Fitted and/or tailored cuts are a good example of this, whether through a sharp, wide-shouldered jacket, a sleek pencil skirt, or tailored trousers.
When it comes to patterns, try brighter or bolder geometric shapes with sharp, clean lines. Stripes are probably the easiest pattern to wear and are simple, chic, and flattering – plus, they never go out of style. Tops and shirts are the simplest way to introduce stripes to your outfit, but if you want to switch things up, try bold, thick stripes. Or choose different striped garments such as dresses, skirts, and trousers.
Top it off with a blazer
Blazers are a staple of smart-casual, and are incredibly versatile pieces to keep in your wardrobe. They’re casual enough to work over most outfits, including skirts, dresses, and even t-shirts and jeans. But they’re also formal enough to add a smart, professional finish to almost anything.
They come in all sorts of colours, patterns, and styles, whether a softer feminine style or a sharp boxy cut. Black is a great place to begin but don’t feel restricted to sticking to the safe option – going with a bright shade is sure to add a pop of colour to your outfit.
When accessorising professional attire, the main thing to remember is to keep your outfit balanced. You can choose one bold piece, like a statement necklace or earrings, that create an eye-catching look. Or if you’ve chosen to wear bright, powerful colours, a carefully chosen watch or simple, elegant jewellery may be all you need.
Heels are seen as a go-to for dressing professionally and confidently, but they’re not always the most comfortable, especially if you don’t usually wear them. In that case, chunky heels, ankle boots or loafers are a good option to try instead.
Practical accessories are no exception either. A chic, designer umbrella will create a cohesive look when you’re rushing to and from the office when the rain falls – and you won’t need to worry about showing up to work windswept and wet.
Remember to dress for you
These are all practical tips for the types of clothes that can help you feel and project confidence in the workplace. However, dressing confidently shouldn’t mean dressing in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable.
It’s good to expand your boundaries and experiment with new looks and styles. However, if you look in the mirror and don’t see yourself staring back, that’s not always a positive thing.
It’s a similar principle to dopamine dressing, in which the only real rule is to wear clothes that have significant value to you or make you feel happy. While professional attire can still be more restrictive than wearing whatever you want, if you don’t feel comfortable in your outfit, it will be harder to feel confident.
So, next time you’re out shopping, trying on outfits, or deciding what to wear for work, always remember to take a moment to consider how you feel wearing it. Because when you feel confident in yourself and how you look, others will see it too.