Wednesday, September 11, 2013

How to Look Expensive: Confidence

As I've mentioned before, this series is about how to put forward the best, most polished image of yourself, while remaining within your budget. Today I want to talk about confidence. I think when life circumstances put us on on a tight budget, there are two possible attitudes we usually adopt. The first is "poor me, how can I expect to look half as good as so and so if I have nothing to spend!" This attitude usually includes some level of self-deprecation and a sense of defeat. The second possible attitude is much different. It is an attitude of can-do, belief in self, resourcefulness and creativity. It recognizes that money doesn't equal personal style, and that attitude is 75% of the equation in the image we project and how we are perceived by others.

So, needless to say, confidence is important. Very important. The funny thing is, when you need it the most it can seemingly vanish into thin air. Furthermore, you cannot be taught confidence, and you cannot generate the feeling just because you want it. But. But. The power is in your hands. The secret is to think the thoughts and go through the outward motions of confidence until yours is real. Let me give you a few techniques I use when I'm not feeling on top of the world.

Pre-preganancy. Obviously.

First, the mental aspect of confidence. I have found that it is helpful to keep a few basic things in mind when feeling less than my best. First, we each think of ourselves first. We are each the center of our own universe, in a sense, and it 's completely normal that our thoughts, actions, and words occupy us. Practical implication of this fact?  Personal insecurities which are magnified to the individual often are unnoticeable to others.

Second, I reflect on the reality that everyone has insecurities. Be it budget, weight, height, shyness or any of the other myriad things we torture ourselves about, no person is completely confident all of the time. I find this thought helpful because it minimizes and makes light of my own insecurities. I also try to remember that we experience others not as parts, but as a wholes, and this is how we come across to those we meet.

There is also the relational aspect of confidence. If I am feeling defeated, the easiest thing to do at work or at a party (or any social situation, really) is to retreat and avoid interaction. It is paradoxical, but one way that we can actually increase our own confidence (and appearance of confidence) is to affirm someone else. Extend an honest compliment to a co-worker. Engage the newcomer at the party in conversation; ask real questions about them and then really listen to their answers. Before you know it, a glow of pleasure and goodwill will be on your face, and there is nothing more attractive than that!

And finally, the physical aspect of confidence. Certain postures intimate self assurance, and I make a point to be conscious of my own body language. Stand with your shoulders back, chest up, and stomach in. Keep your chin up (trust me, this is more than a trite saying!). Smile. Make eye contact. Heck, throw a hand on that hip! Doing these simple things will give the appearance of confidence, and may actually increase the hormones associated with confidence and reduce those related to stress (check out this Harvard Business School article).

So, in conclusion, if you want to look your best, practice thinking and acting with confidence. You should radiate just as much self assurance in an Old Navy dress as you would in couture, on a bad hair day as a good one. You are beautiful and wonderfully made. Act like it!


  1. BEST.POST.TO.DATE. :D Cannot love this enough!!!!

  2. Great post, Mary! Definitely something to always keep in mind.

  3. I definitely support this. I've had my face breaking out everyday for like, the last 20 years ... and though I'm sure it's not a secret from the rest of the world, I don't think I've gotten the memo yet. Why should I? I think confidence gets a lot better with age too, as people ... get used to life or something ...

  4. Thanks for commenting, Clara! It's funny, many of my techniques date from my college days when I out if the blue developed horrible acne! Once I finally found a simple remedy that worked for me (a prescribed face cream) it got better, but the time of trial was just that, a trial! I admire your confidence!


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