Four wardrobe tips that will make you more body confident
While I 100% believe that the key to feeling confident in your own skin starts in the mind, I’ve learnt that a good way to understand how a woman feels about her body is to look in her wardrobe.
Having helped many clients de-clutter and organise their wardrobes, I’ve come to recognise some tell-tale signs that all is not well with their body image.
Take a peak in your wardrobe – do any of the following ring true for you? If so, here’s what your wardrobe is telling you about your body image, and what you can do about it:
You’re holding onto clothes that don’t fit
Do you have clothes in your wardrobe that don’t fit? Perhaps you’ve lost weight and you’re still holding onto clothes that are too big, or maybe you find it hard to part with clothes that are too small?
It’s tempting to hold onto clothing that is too small in the hope that you can fit into it again. When you do this, subconsciously you send yourself the message that your body isn’t acceptable as it is, with those smaller items of clothing serving as a constant reminder.
Similarly, holding onto clothing that is too big after weight loss will make it more difficult to accept your new size.
What hangs in your wardrobe should represent your body as it is today. The journey to becoming more body confident starts with acceptance of your body as it is NOW.
Try this: Be honest with yourself about what fits you and what doesn’t. Remove anything from your wardrobe that no longer fits. Give the items to charity, sell them or bin them. If you really can’t face getting rid of certain items just yet, pack them away out of sight. Come back to them in 3-6 months’ time and ask yourself if you are now willing to let them go.
Your wardrobe is full of baggy dark clothing
If your wardrobe is full of oversized and/or drab clothing, you may be hiding behind your clothes. If the primary purpose of your clothing is concealment, your body confidence will be low.
Although you may believe hiding your body will help you feel more confident, it is a short term fix for the anxiety caused by body concerns. In the longer term, it reinforces the belief that your body is unacceptable. The need to hide comes from the assessment that the body is ugly, too fat, etc., and the mistaken belief that others will think this too.
Try this: Look at the clothing you wear to conceal your body, and ask yourself what body parts you are hiding. For each body part, write your worst fear if someone was to see it. For example you might wear baggy trousers to hide your thighs. Your worst fear might be “If someone sees how big my thighs really are they will stare and laugh at me”. Examine the logic behind each of your fears. Do you really believe them? Would you think this about others? Has this ever actually happened to you? Challenging the fear allows you to see them in a more objective light.
The next step is to wear something that reveals the body part you’ve been hiding. For example, if you are conscious of your upper arms, wear a top that reveals them. Set yourself a task such as going out shopping or for a walk in the park. Notice how it felt. Has the fear lessened of showing that body part? The more you practice this, the greater your body confidence will grow.
Your wardrobe is full of new clothes and/or you’re a compulsive shopper
When you feel down about your body or appearance, do you go on a shopping spree to make yourself feel better? Perhaps you believe that if you can find flattering clothing, you’ll feel better about your body?
The problem with shopping to soothe body concerns is that it is very short lived. Although nice clothes can make you feel like a million dollars, if you don’t deal with the uncomfortable feelings you have about your body in the first place, the clothing will never be a solution.
Immediately after making a purchase, you will feel better for a while, but this feeling will soon be overcome with guilt, followed by the same insecure feelings about your body.
Try this: Pick an activity that makes you feel good about yourself (but not shopping!). This might be a hobby, having coffee with a friend, or doing exercise that you enjoy. The next time you feel the need to shop to relieve negative feelings about your body, engage in your chosen activity instead. The activity will not only distract you from negative feelings, but will reinforce positive feelings about yourself.
You don’t like anything in your wardrobe
Your wardrobe may be full or sparse, but there isn’t anything in it that you really like. Perhaps your wardrobe is full of worn out clothes, or items that other people have bought for you?
Do you believe that your body is not worthy of nice clothes? If this is the case, you may avoid shopping for clothes because you don’t think you deserve new things. When you’re desperate for clothes, perhaps you buy a few pieces using the quickest and easiest means possible, without considering if you like them?
If you’re making do with clothing you don’t like, it’s likely that you don’t like your body very much. However, opening your wardrobe every day to clothing you hate will only reinforce negative feelings about your body. Beginning to build a wardrobe of clothes and accessories that you actually like to wear will help boost your body confidence.
Try this: List at least 3 things about your body that you like. If you struggle with this, ask a partner or trusted friend to tell you what they see. For each of the body parts, list how you can accentuate these in the way your dress or wear your hair or make-up. For example, if you like your décolletage, wear a V neck top or a beautiful necklace that draws attention to it. If you like your eyes, what eye make-up or coloured clothing can you use to bring out their beautiful colour?