The Link Between Appearance and Confidence

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I have often been puzzled about whether the way we show up on the outside contributes to having confidence. In corporate settings, I have observed how grooming impacts promotion or the lack of it. I'm also aware that we need to pay attention to the wisdom we carry on the inside. However, someone once said that it is because of the crispness of notes that the ATM will accept some notes and reject some even though the value hasn't diminished. Therefore, presentation on the outside does seem to matter. That's why I'm researching this area. Recently, I interviewed CeeCee, an expert in costume design and personal and wardrobe styling to share her views on the link between appearance and confidence. The summary of our conversation is what I've written in this blog.


Why should anyone even care about appearance? Why does it matter?  

How you look shouldn't necessarily be tagged as fashion because appearance is not just about wearing the most expensive clothes. First of all, we can't walk around naked. We just can't. It's one of those things that we have to do anyway - that is, get dressed. So why not have some fun with it? Why not use that as an opportunity to express ourselves in ways that make us happy primarily but also just as an opportunity to communicate who we are, what we love, and different aspects about us through how we look. So, appearance could be anything from the way we decided to style our hair, the shoes we decided to wear, and the clothes we decided to wear. It's not just about fashion in the traditional sense that people think about fashion. 

We need to realize that, as human beings, there are many things that affect and influence how we feel. Our emotions are unfortunately influenced by so many things around us. So, whether it is the opinions of others, what we read, what we watch, all the information that we're taking in every single day, knowingly and then knowing that consciously and unconsciously really does influence how we feel. So, style or appearance is one of those things that we can almost reverse-engineer our emotions, because how we take care of that and how we take care of ourselves will, in the opposite way, influence how we feel. So, not so much the information we're taking in influencing how we feel, but the information we're putting out there influencing how we feel. And that's why people should care. Appearance is a very powerful tool that people don't always know they have in their arsenal, and it is free. Most importantly, taking that extra few minutes to care about how you put yourself together is absolutely free. And why not use that opportunity to boost your confidence, to boost your self-esteem, to just give yourself a pep in your step. We should all care about appearance because we all want to feel great and it is one avenue we can do so for free. 

Michael Korda, an English-born writer and novelist said, "The biggest fool in the world is he who merely does his work supremely well, without attending to appearance." We don't want to be a fool. We really want to pay attention to what's important. 

The reason how we appear and how we show up is such an important aspect in many ways is that it is the start of many other areas of our lives. For example, every day when you wake up, you may make your bed. And some might think that's silly, but there's a certain pride that comes from taking care of the appearance of your environment. And if you are doing that, you're doing it for yourself because you just feel that you need to complete the small task of making your bed. The next task you might just be able to do it and the next task you might just be able to do it...and it goes on positively.  

Human behaviour is tied to gravity toward often wanting to make these very big changes in our lives. But change comes from the accumulation of small actions. If you want to change the way you show up in your workplace, the small little action of making your bed, plus a small little action of just doing the next thing and the next thing...; that accumulation of small little actions, will have a huge impact on how you feel and how you show up. 

So, it's like a trigger. For example, if you see a rotten orange, and you see an orange that is not rotten, which one would you would you rather take for your health?


Some people have said how we look on the outside shouldn't really matter and that it's what's on the inside that matters. So, does appearance make people trust us more or believe in us more? And does it make us more certain of ourselves? 

We have to realize that humans are visual beings. For example, if I had a conversation with you, I would most likely be judging you based on my experiences not necessarily who you really are. Because, at that point, I didn't really know you.

No matter how amazing you are, when I see you, I come to see you through the lens of my own experiences, right? It's not fair to you, but it is what the world is. We are all visual beings. So, unfortunately, you could be the smartest person in the room, but if you don't present a certain way, me and my issues and my lens and every place that I've been, I will not see you that way.  

So, two key messages are:

1. We can't walk around naked.

2. Humans are visual. 

That being said, yes, you know you dress up because you should care how people think about you to a certain extent. But let's take it a step further. You experience "you" first before I see you. You see you first before you walk out of the door. So why not impress you first before you try to impress me because "you" see you first every morning that you wake up. You are living with you and nobody else before you interact with me. So, you should approve of you. First of all, that's the very first thing. 

The second thing is that people need to realize that confidence is not magic. The most confident people I don't think just wake up one day and they're confident. Confidence is a muscle, which means you have to exercise that muscle regularly in order for it to build. 

The other thing is confidence is derived from knowledge. So, for example, if I am talking to you about finances, let's say I'm a financial manager. I'm going to speak to you confidently about finances because I have knowledge of finances. If you ask me about food, and I've never cooked food in my life, how am I supposed to speak to you confidently about food when I know nothing about food? Right? So, the very starting point of confidence is knowledge and, you know, sharing it and exercising that knowledge regularly will build your confidence in that particular area of whatever it is. So, when it comes to appearance you need to know yourself first before you can confidently share yourself with me. 

So appearance linking with confidence is not just you waking up one day and you wearing a great pair of jeans and a great jacket and a great pair of heels and all that. Sometimes, the most well-dressed people are not necessarily the most confident. 

The link between appearance and confidence is you invest in getting to know yourself. You take the time to know yourself - who you are, how you show up, how you work, how you talk to people, and then the confidence comes.  

If we're going to use the practicality of going to the gym, if I skip the gym one day and I've been practicing consistently, skipping one day isn’t going to impact my fit negatively. In the same vein, one person not liking my work is not going to make me feel any less creative as a stylist.  

Are there myths about how we should show up on the outside that should be dispelled? 

The myth that looking amazing has to do with wearing expensive clothes. Because it has nothing to do with that. It has everything to do with you loving how you're looking and you loving everything about yourself not the value of the price tag on the clothes that you wear. I've met some people who wear the most expensive clothes but they weren't the most well-dressed. So that in itself is a myth. Appearance and confidence is more than just clothing. Clothing is just a tool.


In summary, confidence is a practice. It's something you do every time, like a culture. Therefore, the link between appearance and confidence is the building of the confidence muscle.


Worry can weigh a person down, but an encouraging word cheers a person up. ’Cornish’s Cheer’ focuses on personal development and hopes to impart cheer based on the principles of fairness, compassion, and commitment. This includes the practice of 'speaking' positive affirmations, which can be a powerful tool to support in self-development.

Nothing in this podcast is intended to serve as life, career, health, or financial advice. Personal circumstances are different, so you are encouraged to do your own research. And Remember, Let’s continue to learn together and be encouraged to keep on connecting”