In a basic sense, a wardrobe is a place where we hang and store clothes. But for lots of us, it’s not just a cupboard with clothes. Our wardrobes hold memories and feelings. They represent where we have been, where we are and where we might like to be. They hold energy; both toxic and positive.
It affects how we feel about ourselves when we look in the mirror, how confident we feel before we leave the house, how tall we stand and how freely we communicate. What comes out of there can influence what we think when we catch a glimpse of ourselves in a reflection throughout the day, what events we choose to go to and which opportunities we say yes to.
As an image specialist for leaders in business, my team and I see the affects wardrobes have on women, daily. We commissioned Core Data Australia to survey over 550 professional women nationally to find out the link between a woman’s wardrobe and her self-confidence.
- 92% of women say they’re holding onto items in their wardrobe that they no longer wear
- 72% say they have garments they no longer fit into
- 60% have not worn some clothes since they’ve purchased them
Let me explain why and how this can impact your self-esteem.
Whenever your eyes catch a glimpse of that outfit you wore all those years ago but can no longer wear, you are holding onto a memory of the past. Whether it’s good or bad, it’s in the past. What’s stopping you from moving on?
Every time you open up your wardrobe and see a pair of jeans you no longer fit into, you are nagged by the thought of why it no longer fits.
When you see a garment you bought but you have never worn, you are hit with the annoyance having wasted some hard earned money, again.
Generally, women wear 20% of their wardrobe 80% of the time. What this really means, is that a majority of the garments in their wardrobe are not earning their rent. They’re gate-crashing and crowding the space. It then becomes a cauldron of decision fatigue, overwhelm and uncertainty.
Here’s how to break free from this cycle.
- Be honest with yourself – is your wardrobe a true reflection of who you are? Or is it a space filled with garments “that will do”? Have you ever said this to yourself? “Oh, I’ll just wear this, I’ve worn it before and I think it works” or “I don’t have time to think about it right now, this will do”. So many of our clients have said that they’re sick of outfits “that will do”; sick of wearing what they call their “boring uniform”. That’s when we know they’re ready to step up, not only with their presentation, but in lots of other areas in their life. Rather than getting comfortable with being comfortable; they’re choosing to grow. Just as the years tick over, the seasons change and you evolve internally, your wardrobe must develop with you. Who you were two years ago is not necessarily the same person you are today; you’ve learnt new skills, your emotional intelligence has sharpened with more experience, your goals might have adjusted. Your wardrobe is a reflection of where you’re at in your life, don’t do yourself the injustice of not allowing it to be a true reflection of how much you’ve grown. Putting on the “best” outfit in your wardrobe, may not be the best outfit for you and the perception you need to create to achieve your goals, effortlessly. Understand how you want to be perceived, get clear on your personal brand and create a wardrobe that is your rock solid support. Re-assess this yearly. If you do not have the time to do this yourself, delegate; add an image specialist to your team. Presenting your authentic self consistently then becomes an incredibly effortless process.
- Get your weaknesses out of there. What’s your self-confidence really worth? A client was telling me that she was on a mission to shed some weight post having her first baby. So, she removed all her “weaknesses” from her cupboard and fridge – the chocolate, Nutella, cheese, wine – so she could never rely on them in those sleep deprived moments. We adopted the same strategy with her wardrobe. We removed all her weaknesses – all the garments that made her feel “fat”, all the garments that she’d held onto all those years (in-case she “might need them one day”) and all the clothes that did not fit her, even before she had a baby. We put all her maternity clothes in another storage space, ready for when she has another baby. All that remained were the clothes that she looks and feels great in now. Why? Anything in your wardrobe that makes you feel like you’re not ready to take on the world, must go. Kiss it goodbye, thank it for the memories and let it know that you’re stepping it up. No price spent on it is worth how it negatively effects your self-confidence. Only keep the garments that strengthen you and support you. You’ll have the confidence that whichever garment you’re pulling out, is helping you dress for where you’re headed, not where you’ve been.Strategise & de-clutter.
- Create a small, smart, versatile wardrobe. How is it that you detest every article of clothing you own, yet when you go to throw something away, you develop this deep sentimental relationship with it? The ironic thing is, no matter how full your wardrobe is, you are convinced you have “nothing to wear”. Remember, the meaning you have attached to clothing you can’t let go of, is a meaning that you have created. Re-create the meaning and you’ll see that letting go of the baggage will be easy. Long gone are the days of overflowing wardrobes with hundreds of garments. For most busy professionals a small, smart and versatile wardrobe with hundreds of outfit options is the way to go. Creating a wardrobe like this takes time, it takes a strategy and it can require a third perspective. This is where a professional can help you see what could be staring you right in the face. These questions will help you; what three ways can I wear this garment? How can I take this outfit from day to night? What core basics do I need in my wardrobe? What are my missing gaps? Put your mix & match hat on, create your outfits and take photos of them. Put all your garments on the same type of hanger (felt hangers are the best) and make this sacred space look like your very own in-house boutique.
It’s mind-blowing how much time, money, and decision-making you will relieve yourself of when your wardrobe supports you. I’ll always remember a client’s comment after her image development process: “Every time I open up my wardrobe and get dressed in the morning, I look at myself in the mirror and have this incredible feeling that I’m in control and capable of whatever the day throws at me”.
That’s a woman who has a wardrobe that is positively impacting her self-confidence.