3 Things a Confidence Expert Told Me to Change About My Outfits


(Image credit: Collage Vintage)

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to dress with confidence. There’s no question that my fashion choices shape my day and how I’m feeling, but is there a way that I can consciously try to improve my confidence and enhance my mood? To find out, I chatted with Dawnn Karen, a self-described “fashion psychologist” who makes connections between clothes and how they impact the way people feel. She has been quoted in articles for publications like The Cut and The New York Times, breaking down theories about fashion and explaining the hidden messages we can read based on the fashion choices of celebs like Meghan Markle and Mark Zuckerberg. But my question for her was simple: What are the most important things I can change about my outfits to improve my confidence? Ahead, Karen shares exactly how to achieve this with three key rules to follow.

Choose Your Outfits According to How You're Feeling

Instead of picking out what to wear based on a specific aesthetic or trend, Karen suggests tapping into your emotions to get dressed. She calls this “mood illustration,” which she describes as “dressing to perpetuate your current mood.” Instead of wearing something that will make you feel uncomfortable, she suggests athleisure or flats (as opposed to high heels) that you enjoy wearing.

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Boost Your Confidence With Pieces You Love

On the other hand, if you wake up on the wrong side of the bed and want to improve your mood, she suggests “mood enhancement.” By choosing to wear a nice dress or bright colours, you can actively boost your positive thinking and amplify your confidence.

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Add an accessory that means something to you

And finally, Karen suggests adding a “focal accessory.” She explains that this is “an accessory that holds a psychological value of the past, present and future,” or more simply, an item “that means something to you.” Maybe it’s a special piece of jewellery that has been passed down for generations, or perhaps it’s something you purchased when you met a personal goal that makes you feel proud and powerful. Either way, the idea is to wear an accessory that you have a strong positive connection to.

Now I’m ready to put these theories into action.

This piece was originally published on Who What Wear U.S. and has since been updated.

Associate Director, Special Projects

Kristen Nichols is the Associate Director, Special Projects at Who What Wear with over a decade of experience in fashion, editorial, and publishing. She oversees luxury content and wedding features, and covers fashion within the luxury market, runway reporting, shopping features, trends, and interviews with leading industry experts. She also contributes to podcast recordings, social media, and branded content initiatives. Kristen has worked with brands including Prada, Chanel, MyTheresa, and Luisa Via Roma, and rising designers such as Refine and Tove, and her style has been featured in publications including Vogue.com, Vogue France, WWD, and the CFDA. Before Who What Wear, Kristen began her career at Rodarte, where she worked on assistant styling, photo shoots, and runway shows, and at Allure, where she moved into print and digital editorial. She graduated from the University of Southern California, where she studied art history and business, and currently lives in New York.