“The glue that pulls an outfit together is often just confidence and attitude." —Mr. Newton, street style photographer
Confidence is all psychological. It’s defined as “a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.” If you ask me, that was a quite redundant, but the repetitiveness actually proves my point: it says that confidence comes from someone’s admiration of themselves. That means that you don’t have to rely on anyone else to tell you that they like your outfit, or that your hair looks pretty, or that lipstick compliments your skin tone, for it to be true. This is all a bit vague—let me explain. It’s story time!
I recently picked up my copy of Classy by Derek Blasberg, Editor at Large of Harper’s Bazaar magazine (remember it from this list?). Hands down, it was one of the best purchases I made this year. Even after only reading a few pages, I came to the realization that Mr. Blasberg and I are very similar in at least one way: we are both highly disappointed and dismayed by the lady to tramp ratio in modern society. Being a teenager, I’m right at the heart of this cultural abomination. Girls in my school (and any high school, for that matter) tend to dress as though they’re headed to strip club as opposed to science class. People have this fascinating idea that they need to dress and act promiscuously in order to be self-confident. I said fascinating as opposed to “wrong” because there are a surprising amount of people out there who truly believe this, and I would feel impolitic in directly disagreeing with an opinion. However, I will say that it’s difficult to feel assertive in a big sweater anymore when there are teenage prostitutes every where you look. Don’t get me wrong, I respect the fact that dressing in this way is some women’s personal style, but I’ve noticed that it’s rare to find ladies with a distinguished sense of style nowadays. Such females that do have a personal flair stand out and may put themselves in a spotlight that they’re not ready for. Correction: one they think they’re not ready for. I’m here to tell you how you can rock your most important and least expensive accessory: confidence.
Stay true to your style.
The biggest mistake that people make is to try and dress like someone else. It doesn’t matter that I want to look like Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen all the time, or wear those incredible harem jeans from Scotch & Soda, because I honestly don’t think either of those fit me. Those jeans are debatable, but that’s not the point. So if you admire the way one of your friends dresses, or maybe a celebrity, you should do just that—admire. If you go out of your way to buy things that aren’t really you, you’re going to feel uncomfortable wearing them. I know that if I were to go outside in something short or tight, I would feel extremely uneasy the entire time, and people would see that projected outwardly. You may not realize it, but when you feel awkward, you usually act awkward. To avoid that, wear clothing you’re comfortable in, mentally and physically.
Fake it till you make it.
There are going to be days when you’re just not feeling confident—whatever the cause is, it’s going to be apparent to other people, unless you do something about it. It happens to the best of us; you may be wearing your favorite pair of pants, or maybe your hair looks particularly nice, but you still somehow feel like something is not right. To avoid being a little grumpster with low self-esteem all day, feign confidence. It’s one of those things that’s easier said than done (like walking on your hands while wearing a bowler hat, am I right?), but with practice you can master the art of shamology. This is a word that I just made up that relates to acting as though you feel assertive when you really don’t, derived from the word “sham,” meaning a person who pretends to be something they are not; bogus; false. It’s similar to the theory that smiling when you’re sad actually boosts your mood. The first step in being a successful shamologist is to think back to a time when you were especially confident, and try to remember why specifically this was true. You must also recall the way that it made you feel (I know I sound like a therapist, but at least try to take this somewhat seriously if you can. I totally understand if it’s too hard, I’m laughing at myself right now) so that you can attempt to replicate that mindset. If you can do that, people will have no idea you feel like hiding in a trashcan.
Ignore rude comments.
This one also falls into the category of “easier said than done,” but most things on this list do, unfortunately. Let me paint the picture for you: you put on an outfit in the morning that you think is super rad and you’re really stoked about it. Then you get to school, work, wherever you’re going and whoever you’re with makes a snide remark about your clothing. In approximately ten seconds and a matter of seven to fifteen words, your entire day has been ruined. Good job, jerk. If this has happened to you, and I’d be willing to bet a lot that it has, then you know exactly how stupid you feel afterward for thinking it was a such a fabulous ensemble. If the insult comes from someone whose opinion you value highly, it can even make you question your entire aesthetic. But it doesn’t have to! You can evade those feelings of wanting to crawl inside of a ditch and wear a potato sack by just ignoring them. Why does it matter if your friend thinks the color of your shirt makes you look like you have yellow fever? Or that your brother told you that you look like a cross between a clown and Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz” in those sparkly red loafers? It doesn’t. Sure, a compliment can make you feel wonderful, but that doesn’t mean a nasty statement should have any effect on you. If you think that those overalls you’re wearing are the coolest things since sliced bread, you’re damn right they are. If you’re not dressing for yourself, at least partially, you should reevaluate what your relationship with fashion is. My friends know that I’ll gladly wear a purple jumpsuit and snakeskin platforms to school, and they respect me for that. At least I think they do. They at least appreciate the effort. The Man Repeller does a fantastic job of disregarding the aversions others may have and express about her apparel.
I truly hope that these few tips will help you rock that ombre feather sweater vest that you’re afraid will cause people to throw tomatoes at you if you have it on in public. Or maybe those simple blue jeans you have that you thought were too boring and have been chilling in your drawer for months. Or perhaps the crop top you got over the summer but can’t bring yourself to wear because you are worried people will judge you. It could be that all of the above are true, but who cares? Do whatever it takes so that you don’t feel like a ‘big ugly cray-cray’ (the enchantingly insightful words of Michelle Violy Harper) on the outside or the inside.