If you've ever felt like a million bucks while wearing a bright lipstick or the perfect pair of jeans, then you already know how makeup and clothes can boost your self-esteem. It may sound so simple — and it kind of is — but there's no denying the power of choosing how you present yourself to the world.
This applies to your makeup, your clothes, and all the little ways you express yourself through style. "They can be powerful tools because we can control them," says Christine Stoddard, an artist and body positivity advocate. "No matter what society says, we ultimately decide how to look. We choose how to groom ourselves and how to dress." That choice, as well as the self-care that goes into creating your look, can be incredibly empowering.
That's not to say, however, that clothes are the ultimate fix for waning confidence levels. "Of course self-esteem comes from within, but there are definitely hacks to get there," Lindsay Narain, designer and founder of the clothing brand VAUGHAN, tells Bustle. "From personal experience, I’ve had times in my life when I’ve felt a bit insecure ... Whenever we find ourselves in these situations, selecting great clothing is an easy way to fake it 'til we make it." Read on for a few great makeup and style tips you might want to add to your daily routine, all in the name of feeling great.
1. Try Playing Up Your Features
One way to feel great about yourself? Playing up your unique features with the help of contouring. "Contouring is all about highlighting your best facial features," says Murat Evin, creative director at The London School of Make-up. By spending time sculpting your face each morning and paying attention to your best assets, Evin tells me there's no way you won't feel more confident. So go ahead and pull up a how-to video, and get to practicin'.
2. Use Jewelry To Your Advantage
If you're looking for a quick way to feel confident, try throwing on some big earrings or a striking necklace. "Jewelry and accessories that frame the face naturally attract eye contact," says Veronica Staudt, a personal stylist and owner of Vintage Meet Modern. "When we connect with people with eye contact, our self-esteem improves because a deeper connection is being formed." Staudt also says statement jewelry can serve as an easy conversation starter, which will come in handy when you're feeling nervous on a first date or at a networking event. Giving people an "in" to chat you up, in the form of a cool piece of jewelry, can make situations like these way easier.
3. Only Shop In Stores That Make You Feel Good
Ever walk into a store and feel instantly self-conscious? Whether it's the lighting, the sizing, or the way the mannequins are styled, if it doesn't make you feel good, you'll probably want to shop somewhere else. "Look for stores and companies that have a full representation of all body-types and train their staff to be body positive," says Alexis Thomas, body positivity advocate and owner of the lingerie store Taboo Tabou. You'll likely find better pieces there, and have more fun in the process.
4. Create Your Own "Signature" Look
If you have a signature look or go-to accessory, start wearing it everyday to feel more like yourself. As online wardrobe consultant Monisha Kapur says, "It can be as simple as wearing a certain accessory to wearing a power red dress before a big meeting. When you dress to your unique self, you feel more 'like you' [and] therefore more confident in articulating your thoughts and opinions."
5. Put On A Pair Of Heels
If they aren't for you, that's totally OK. But there's really no denying the posture-correcting, confidence-boosting power of a pair of heels. "For women, I see the difference almost immediately when they put heels on," says fashion photographer Ryan West, speaking about his photoshoots. "They are physically elevated, of course, but it also gives them a boost of confidence in their demeanor. Even if I’m not shooting full body but I want a confident glamorous look, I’ll have the subject wear heels."
6. Experiment With Your Makeup
Makeup is all about being creative and showing off your unique style, so don't be afraid to experiment. "I don't believe there are any mistakes in makeup," Alejandro Falcon, artistic director for Osmosis Colour Cosmetics, tells Bustle. "We love how makeup can spark instant confidence and self love, and we absolutely love breaking all the makeup rules to fit our true authentic selves." Whether it's a super dark lip or some bright eye shadow, go ahead and rock it.
7. Build A Wardrobe You Love
Imagine getting dressed in the morning and loving everything in your closet. While it may sound like a pipe dream, it really is just about slowly filling your wardrobe with pieces that show off your unique style. "If your wardrobe is filled with things you love, it's easy to reach for something great," says Narain. And knowing that, no matter what, you'll feel good in each piece is a great way to boost confidence.
8. Make Sure Everything Fits
Nothing can ruin your day quite like ill-fitting jeans or a shirt you have to constantly adjust. So make sure your wardrobe consists of pieces that fit great and feel comfy. As fashion expert and celebrity stylist Ali Levine tells me, choosing clothes that make you feel comfortable can even help you overcome insecurities.
9. Create A "Getting Ready" Ritual
Showing yourself a little love in the morning can set the tone for the day, which is why you should create a "getting ready" ritual. "[My] ritual involves sitting down, consciously breathing in and out, repeating a mantra, and putting on makeup and clothes that make me feel magical," says Stoddard. What might yours be?
10. Start Wearing Bright Colors
I know, I love wearing all black, too. But there's no denying the power of a bright color to boost your mood — and hopefully your self-esteem. "Wearing bold colors such as blue, yellow, red, and green are ... a great way of feeling body confident because they are happy, striking colors," says Evin. Think about wearing some colorful eyeshadow, a bright lipstick, or a sweater that brings out your skin tone. It may just help turn around your day.
11. Go For Angles And Bold Lines
There's a reason 80s power suits had angular shoulders and structured lapels. "Wearing stronger lines in one's clothing — like slightly angular lapels, eyewear, and necklines — can help boost [your] confidence in the workplace as these lines read as more authoritative and polished," says Dina Scherer, a NYC-based image and wardrobe stylist and owner Modnitsa Styling. While you don't have to install shoulder pads in all your shirts, a bolder style may be worth looking into for future purchases.
Adding a few things to your wardrobe and showing off your style — whatever it may be — is a surefire way boost self-esteem.
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