A lot of our clients and Instagram followers want to know how to look more confident at work.
Professionals from different industries, backgrounds, ages, and genders want the same thing. They want others to respect, trust, and take them seriously. (And they want to feel good about themselves and their career.)
Confidence is the key to unlocking all of those things.
So, how do you gain that confidence in the workplace? Keep reading to learn how dressing well can be a game-changer for your self-esteem.
Plus, stick around for three tips from NLW founder Cassandra Sethi on gaining confidence beyond what you wear.
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Do Clothes Affect Your Confidence?
Yes, clothes affect your confidence. A 2012 study shows a direct relationship between your mood and the clothes you wear.
When you wear sloppy, poorly fitting clothes or pieces you just don’t care about, it lowers your self-esteem and your happiness. But when you wear things that you’re excited about and make you feel good, your mood swings upwards.
That’s why one of the most actionable things you can do to boost your confidence at work is to improve your style.
If you’re struggling with confidence, look at your closet and ask yourself, “Do I like what I’m wearing? Does it make me feel good about myself?”
If the answer isn’t an enthusiastic “YES!” then it’s time to make a change. Let’s teach you how to look confident at work.
How To Dress With Confidence
For some reason, a lot of online “fashion experts” think dressing confidently is all about colors.
(Apparently, all it takes is slapping on some red to feel like a leader.)
But we won’t waste your time talking about “putting a pep in your step with pink.”
Why? Because those are bandaid solutions. Confidence doesn’t have a color. Instead, we’re sharing the advice we offer clients that gives you the biggest wins for long-term results.
Here are our three steps to dressing confidently at work and beyond
1. Know Your Dress Code
We recently polled our Instagram followers on dress codes.
59% said they don’t know how to dress for their dress code.
It automatically lowers your confidence level if you don’t know what your dress code is or what it means.
That means you’re likely starting your mornings panicked, trying on a bunch of clothes while feeling like you don’t know what you’re doing. Then you show up to the office, constantly second-guessing if you wore the right thing.
Instead of focusing on your tasks, you’re wondering what other people think about you.
Sound familiar? Then, it’s time to talk to your HR department. Ask them what your office dress code is and get examples. They should be able to tell you what’s appropriate, what’s not, and what that looks like.
(And if they can’t, have them contact us. We do consultations with companies that need help with their dress policies.)
2. Do a closet edit
As we always say, great style begins and ends with your closet.
Remember that frantic morning going through your closet? That throws your entire day off. Don’t let your wardrobe control you – you control it!
The key to having a calm, peaceful morning that sets you up for success is to whip your closet into shape. AKA: do a closet cleanout.
First, take everything out of your closet. (Yes, we mean everything.) Go through each item and get rid of all the pieces you know you don’t love but hold onto anyway. Donate those pieces you never wear, and say goodbye to anything that doesn’t fit.
Donate it if it’s in good condition, throw it away if it’s not, or find another place for it if it’s sentimental.
All of those unnecessary things are bogging down your daily routine. Once they’re out of your way, you’ll have a much better time getting ready each day.
3. Learn what you feel comfortable in
The third part of dressing with confidence is finding what feels good. Everyone has a clothing piece or style that makes them feel like their best selves.
For our CEO Cassandra, it’s blazers. As she puts it, “A good blazer makes me feel polished for any situation.”
This step calls for a little self-reflection. Sit down and think about the last time you felt fantastic in an outfit. What was it? What about that look made you feel confident? Write these things down.
Then, go on Pinterest and create a vision board around those elements or pieces. That way, you’ll have a style road map for the next time you go shopping.How To Look More Confident at Work: Beyond Your Wardrobe
As much as we love style, knowing how to dress with confidence is only one component of confidence.
If you want to fully understand how to look confident at work, you’ll have to go deeper.
For this, we spoke with NLW CEO and founder Cassandra Sethi. She worked in the corporate world for 15 years before starting her own company. In that time, she learned that confidence is a full package.
Yes, what you wear is important. But in order to have confident energy, you have to zero in on what’s really important. Here are three ways to do that:
1. Ask questions
Successful professionals ask questions. They’re curious about themselves, others, and their company.
As an employee, you can learn so much simply by asking a few simple questions. You can get into your manager’s mind and learn more about the goals of your company and your boss.
Not only will this give you a better picture of your career path, but it will also show your boss that you care and you’re engaged.
2. Be Proactive
Don’t wait to be told to do something. If you see an opportunity or a task no one’s doing, do it!
Nothing’s better than someone who takes charge and gets the team to the finish line. Showing initiative is a surefire way to seem more confident.
3. Advocate for Yourself
Our last tip for gaining confidence in the workplace is to be your biggest champion. Why?
Even if you work for a corporation, you are your personal brand.
How you carry yourself, what you wear and advocating for yourself is essential.
Your boss won’t always be around to see everything that you do. They have other employees to manage and their own tasks to worry about. That’s why you need to share what you’re doing and why and how this will impact them.
Keep track of your accomplishments and innovations, no matter how small you might think they are.
This isn’t just helpful for confidence. It’ll also come in handy when your next title or pay review rolls around.