We are fed enough style tips and trend updates, but what often lacks from a conversation about image is attention to the bigger picture. Part of our mission at Sociology of Style is to move the needle on that conversation toward a substantive “why it matters” discussion and push you to think about how your image reflects — and creates — your identity.
In my new book, I dedicate an entire chapter called “Work It: The Runway of Your Life” to this topic. Here are 3 key takeaways that distill how you can start strategically hacking your image for greater social efficacy and to boost confidence starting today — without spending any money.
1. Redefine Authenticity. Authenticity is a complex word, and one with which we’re generally obsessed. And our closest don’t make it any easier. Let’s get one thing straight: authenticity is a dynamic process — not permanent or static. And the way we’re expected to appear in any given context does not always reflect the self with which we most identify. So we must reconcile these social and professional pressures with what we feel is our “true self.”
Authenticity is also not dictated exclusively by your biographical realities. Your identity is multi-faceted and can express itself differently in different contexts, and it also evolves over time.
Bottom line: Projecting authenticity requires both experimentation and reinvention.
2. Play Dress-Up. Mindfully playing with your appearance pushes you out of your comfort zone and highlights what you’re taking for granted, both with regard to your own aesthetic hangups and with how you’re perceived. Our hangups and dependencies are often wrapped up in our appearance, so understanding what they are is empowering.
Play around with visual variables to test everything from how you’re treated to how it affects the way you carry yourself. You’ll likely find it both surprising and liberating.
3. Adopt a uniform. Developing a uniform or go-to look for yourself isn’t about looking the same every single day. It’s a sleek, low-maintenance approach to minimalist living and visual precision. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t play dress-up and experiment. But once you find a formula that works for you, don’t be afraid to replicate it.
Routinizing your manner of dress also minimizes choice and saves your mental power for other more important thoughts and actions. And projecting a recognizable visual brand is an effective way to convey a coherent, memorable message to your audience.
Get more instant image and life hacks here.