New research by Lovables Australia reveals that 20% of Australians are purchasing clothes in an attempt to simply lift their mood and one fifth are spending on average AU$12,000 on clothing per year in an effort to feel and look their best. But this increased consumption is having the opposite effect. We chat to psychologist Dr Kate Baecher about the connection between fashion and confidence.
How does fashion impact on a person’s confidence and self-esteem?
There is a mutually reciprocal relationship between fashion, and a person’s confidence and self-esteem. Clothing that fits well, is well-maintained, and reflects one’s personality – will positively affect confidence (and in turn, self-esteem). A person who has sound confidence and self-esteem is likely to invest more care and time into maintaining their clothing and personal sense of style, almost in a cyclic relationship. Investing time and care in looking after clothing, is a sign of self-respect for the wearer (and for the clothing!)
Likewise, a person’s self-confidence and self-esteem can be eroded by poorly fitted, tired, misshapen and uncared-for clothing. Clothing and fashion is both a window into a person’s emotions (colours, styles, mood) and a reflection of how they see themselves.
How can a person use fashion to promote confidence?
The word ‘fashion’ can often be a double-edged sword. While fashion is inherently individual, and akin to personal style, many people believe that current trends actually equate to fashion or style. The truth is, following trends (and indeed, ‘fast fashion’) is more likely to have a detrimental impact on confidence if the particular trend isn’t suitable for a person’s body shape or natural interest/style.
Adopting a style in clothing that mimics a trend but not the individual can lead to an erosion of the individual’s sense of self-belief and understanding of who they are themselves. It no longer becomes an expression of personality but rather, a reflection of ‘expectation’ – and this dissonance can cause internal distress. The best ways to use fashion to promote confidence are to find styles that fit your body shape, size, and show off your personality. If you like your clothing – and it fits you well – you will feel great in it, and this feeling will shine out from within you.
What are some other ways we can gain more confidence and self-esteem without purchasing fast fashion?
In terms of clothing, one way is to invest in the care of your clothes. Regardless of how well-worn or how old they are, if you wash and care for them appropriately, they are likely to last longer and retain their shape. I use Lovables Care & Renew formula to keep my clothes looking fresh. Investing in their care, is investing in you, and respecting you. Another way would be to focus on classic pieces that can be embellished with accessories – but again, that are likely to last over time.
Choose quality, well-fitted clothing for your shape…. wear clothing that YOU like. You are dressing for you, after all, and if you aren’t comfortable or don’t like the clothing, your behaviour when wearing it, will reflect this. Over and above all though, remember that you are more than your clothes. Yes, clothes can be an expression of your personality or your mood, but ultimately, clothing is an accessory to who you are – and true confidence and self-esteem is about your heart and your character, not about what you wear on the outside.
What are the foundations of healthy body image?
In today’s day and age, our perception of ‘desirable’ and even ‘healthy’ body images are almost always skewed by the media, by social media, and by subtle and changing values within society.
One of the greatest ways to retain a genuine, realistic and healthy image about your body, is to focus on what your body can do – not what it looks like. If you are grateful that your body can run up hills and walk up mountains, can swim in the ocean, can carry your child, can fight off illness, can see the colours of the sun setting….. then these things will help you appreciate your body. Appreciating the functions of your body – and accepting that although it will always have some flaws, endearing qualities and quirks, those endearing quirks and qualities and flaws are the very factors that allow you to experience the full goodness and joy of this life.
Dr Kate Baecher is a coach, psychologist and an advocate for confidence and the longevity in clothing.