You know that old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words”? This may be the best way to understand the influential role that clothing plays in communication. When a person has no spoken word to go by, they often form impressions of others based on visual cues, such as that person’s clothing. Clothing is a nonverbal tool and an expressive one at that. Clothing style and height are known as “static” cues, while facial expression, posture and body movement are known as “dynamic” cues. A big part of self-esteem is actually how you see yourself, whether it’s true or not.

The way you feel about yourself is called self-concept; the way you see yourself is called self-image. Your self-concept is an assessment of your psychological self; your self-image is an assessment of your physical self. However, our self-concepts and/or self-images frequently determine the clothes that we choose to wear. At the same time, the clothes we wear may influence the way we feel about ourselves. Our behavior changes as frequently as do our roles in life and the clothing we choose to fit those roles. Clothing also reflects our different moods and emotions. Our favorite garments are comfortable-psychologically as well as physically. The teen years are partly spent discovering one’s own identity and individuality. This is a time when individuals enjoy experimenting with different types of clothing, hairstyles, accessories and makeup. Through trial and error, you accept or reject styles, colors and ideas. This experimentation plays a really important role in the decisions you make about yourself and in developing your identity and individuality.


Individuals are said to use clothing to improve their appearance and to create and maintain their own identity (Howlett, Pine, Orakçıoğlu & Fletcher, 2013). Clothing is an enhancement of individuality; it is a way for an individual to distinguish themselves from a crowd. People use clothing and dress subconsciously to portray their social identity to others, but they also manage to identify with their clothing and in some cases it can be considered an extension of a person’s inner self.

Self-perceptions such as sociability, emotional stability, dominance and work competency vary based on whether a person had a positive or negative feeling about their own dress. When a person indicates high clothing satisfaction, they have higher levels of sociability than those who experienced low satisfaction. Kwon also found that a person who is confident with their clothing tends to have positive emotions.

For example, in relation to clothing satisfaction, someone comfortable in their attire may exude confidence, while one dissatisfied with their dress may experience self-doubt or anxiety (Cosbey, 2001). Dressing smart is also important for your confidence and sense of self-empowerment. But your style does more than just send messages, to your mind or to others. New research shows it actually impacts how you think.

Individuals not only use clothes to define and communicate their social identity to others (Feinberg, Mataro & Burroughs, 1992), they also use it as a symbol of their connection to others. So, while a perceiver’s characteristics and behaviors may affect the way that person forms impressions of others, their social groupings can also affect the way that person sees themselves and the way they choose to dress.

The Power Pose Impact & Clothes

Wearing the right outfit and making intelligent choices when it comes to picking your apparels defines your level of confidence and how good you feel about yourself. It’s like the Power Pose effect that accentuates your body image by uplifting your body language. A healthy posture or a simple change in the way you carry yourself can primarily step up your self-esteem says the social psychologist Amy Cuddy`.

Designer outfits and trendy apparels always work to your advantage. Even if you do not have that body language that sends off powerful vibes, a stylish formal attire that makes you appear debonair will do the work. That’s when you’re exuding a style statement. When you put on stylish outfits, you’re not just making a statement but are also dressing up for a predefined image. The entrepreneur, the gym lover, the party animal, or the laid back dude from downtown! It is an essential element of our self-creation that ties naturally with how we look and feel about ourselves.

The idea behind official wear in the workplace is primarily a matter of perception. How you dress will affect how your clients, employees, and even how your colleagues look at you. You have to dress the part if you want to feel powerful. The perception other people have of you, without a doubt, raises or lowers your self-esteem.

Another crucial reason why fashionable clothing directly relates to our mood, personality, and self-esteem is the quality every clothing item carries. Clothes entail classes; they have personalities too! Each design element, the colors, the fabric, and the shape define a particular aspect and perception. All these create a specific standard that relates to our personal fashion sense and style statement. For example, when you wear a black silk dress, it exudes panache, sophistication, elegance, and power. Also, the fabric specifically indicates qualities like opulence and luxury.

When you buy something that matches your fashion statement, it tends to give off natural vibes of confidence, high self-esteem, and a positive personal image of you.

– By Vasavi Mehta

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