Many people state that you must work on your inner self, which translates into your outer self looking great. (If you rest, eat well, and take care of your well-being, your body will be healthy, and you will look good). 

But there is another way of stating this equation. We can work on our outer self to improve our inner self.

Fashion is much more than trendy colors and brands. Fashion can be the suit for the superhero we want to be in the streets. Today, we’ll talk about a common superpower many would like to have. A superpower that we cannot order online with expedited shipping, but that, through the careful selection of the right clothes, we can obtain a little bit easier. Today we’ll talk about confidence through the lens of fashion. 

Confident fashion in fairy tales

 Peter Parker didn’t need a suit to climb the walls. He could have worn a pair of hiking shoes and Adidas signature striped joggers, but a suit made him feel more powerful and ready to move. His mask covering his face gave him the confidence he didn’t have in Peter Parker to confront villains and criminals. 

There’s also the story of Cinderella, whose gown and glass slippers gave her the confidence to go to the ball and flirt with a stranger. Her family and the people around her tried to bring her down, but the ball gown and the shoes brought her up. 

The story of the Danish Girl is particularly beautiful. Lili Elbe found her authentic self by wearing women’s clothing. She found in dresses and makeup the confidence to realize that she grew up as Einar Wegener, but her true self was Lili Elbe.

Fashion can illustrate what words can’t describe. In the Danish Girl, Lili Elbe finds her authentic self when posing as a female muse, realizing she was born in a body that doesn’t represent who she is. Image Courtesy of The New York Times. 

These are the stories we’ve read in books and watched at the movie theater, but there are several stories of clothing giving people confidence in themselves every single day. 

So what does confidence look like?

When we were kids, we had aspirations of what we would look like. Little girls put on mom’s high heels walking around the room, thinking how one day their feet would fit those shoes. Little boys see dad shaving with admiration and curiosity about the way the foam stays on their faces defying gravity. 

There is a sense of admiration when kids watch on TV people putting a tie around their neck, lipstick on their lips, buttons around their cuffs, or a handbag to carry belongings. 

When a med student wears a lab coat for the very first time, the meaning of this garment carries a lot of weight. Image Courtesy of CNBC

We grow up, and there is still a certain element of surprise when we do some of these things. We discover a fragrance we like; we finalize a tie knot that is symmetrical and lays beautifully just at the top of the belt buckle. We can allow ourselves to be surprised and amazed by these little things that embellish our body. The spark of curiosity and the eagerness to learn something new is what keeps things interesting.

The fit

Tailored garments embrace and follow your body lines. When everything’s in place and you feel good with the clothes you wear, you can get a boost of confidence. Image Courtesy of British GQ.

There’s something beautiful, sexy, empowering, elegant, and sophisticated about a well-fitted garment. These fitted clothing don’t have to be eveningwear or suits only. When a pair of jeans hug your waist and lift your butt, you feel different than when the fit is sloppy. The way clothing wraps around our bodies is very important because it influences the way we feel about ourselves. And the truth is, most of us spend most of our days wearing clothes. It only takes a few extra steps to make sure the fit is right. Choosing the right size and understanding that size M is not the same across all brands and the fitting room is always a good idea. 

The length of the sleeves, the hem, the darts, the tailoring, the shoulders, and the neck, altogether make a huge difference between sloppy and exquisite. The attention to these details will make a huge difference in the way we walk into the room for the next meeting. 

Timothee Chalamet wears a forest print pantsuit by Stella McCartney. Image Courtesy of PopSugar. 

We grow up, and we still carry certain aspirations of how things could look like and how happy they would make us “if” they happened. For many, this conversation is about weight. Individuals think of how their confidence would boost “if” they lose weight, “if” they were thinner, they would flirt, “if” they were skinny, they would do X, Y, and Z.

There are moments when changing what we like about our bodies might be possible. But there are many others when it is not biologically or financially possible to make the changes we want. This doesn’t mean that we are condemned to unhappiness for the rest of our lives. We can use fashion as a tool to boost our confidence. 

There are some who believe that it is superficial to go above and beyond in fashion and to use shapewear that makes you look skinnier or underwear that lifts your butt. But if you are the only owner of your body and these are decisions that can make you feel better about yourself and more confident, it’s your decision to make.


To be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved. -George MacDonald.

When we talk about trust and clothes, we need to think about what we interpret as trust and what is the ultimate goal. Are we trying to trust ourselves and boost ourselves with confidence to communicate a message of professionalism as an authority figure in the workplace, or am I trying to make people see me as trustworthy so I can make more meaningful and deep connections?

Andy from the Devil Wears Prada found a boost of confidence in tailored, fashion-forward clothing during her job at Runway Magazine. Image Courtesy of Vogue Mexico. 

 If we want to boost our confidence and look professional, classic colors are a safe choice. Navy, dark grays, olive, burgundy, white, and red are usually good selections for communicating these nonverbal messages. Think of the clothes world leaders, CEOs, and notable businesspeople wear on the day-to-day. The colors are very sober, and the prints are very subtle. The minimalism of these clothes is sophisticated and embraces a perception of professionalism and confidence.

On the other hand, what happens when we want people to trust us? Perhaps there is a manager who has been focusing on business strategies and the implementation of the rules of the company, but throughout the process, the manager has created a work environment of fear, silence, quiet suffering, and resentment. How can a manager project a perception of being a trustworthy individual who, putting the job title behind, is able to talk with empathy, connect with people, and listen carefully to their concerns?

There are certain elements of business attire that we can let go of to make ourselves look more approachable while keeping elements of the dress code. Letting go of the necktie, opening up the blazer when we are walking, and even wearing lighter colors such as white, beige, or pastels can bring us a little more down to Earth. Our brains react psychologically to these colors, and this is how, unconsciously, we might feel more inclined to speak to one person instead of the other. Their colors, their attire, and the non-verbal communication of their clothing give us the picture of a figure of authority or a figure who wants to socialize and have a conversation going. There is no right or wrong between these two, and it’s very likely we will have to use both of these pictures in our professional careers. There are moments when we will prioritize respect and professionalism, and there will be casual settings when we will want to be seen as approachable and easygoing. 

Teachers carry the big responsibility of being a figure of authority for their students and an approachable figure students feel comfortable asking questions to. Image Courtesy of Mental Floss. 

Teachers, for instance, have to balance these two very well on a regular basis. How do you make your students like you and be open to asking questions while also making it clear that they should respect you and that you are the figure of authority? This is why dress codes are very important, and many teachers prefer to follow business or formal attire while adding certain “fun” visual elements when teaching toddlers, such as colorful accessories or funny hairstyles. But if a Math teacher shows up with shorts, sneakers, a graphic t-shirt, and a Mario Bros hat, it can be challenging to establish the portrayal of authority he’ll try to implement with their students. It’s all about finding a balance and seeing how things work for each person. 

What does a lack of confidence look like? 

Many shows and movies show us what someone looks like when they are dealing with a breakup, a loss, a moment that is not bright, and maybe even lonely. You see these characters wearing a long t-shirt, and little to no makeup. Men leave their beards unshaved and let their hair grow. This series of decisions on how we look has a repercussion on the way we feel. Because if we don’t feel pretty, if we don’t feel clean, if we don’t feel ready to go out and work, it is very likely we will stay trapped in this spiral of dissatisfaction, frustration, sadness, anger, loneliness, and uncomfortable emotions that came to our lives to be temporary and we welcomed them as a permanent guest in our home. 

Washing your face, brushing your hair, showering and putting on nice and clean clothes, can be some expressions of self-love that will spiral into a boost of confidence to our inner self. We look fabulous in the outside, and we feel wonderful on the inside. 

There are external factors that make our path toward confidence a little turbulent. Hurtful words, mean actions towards us, demanding parents, toxic personal or professional relationships, acts of kindness and love that do not corresponding. The list is endless and we can’t control it. Things just keep adding up.  We can’t control what people say and how people behave. They have their own twisted path toward somewhere else.

 But we can control the clothes we wear, the clothes that will make us feel better. We can choose the suit we want to wear for the superhero we want to become. This will make the path toward confidence a little less turbulent and a lot more fun.