How you feel impacts how you present yourself and what you wear can affect how you feel. Whether you work with the inside or outside of your body, you’ll be reaping the rewards all over.

For example, when we feel good about ourselves we take care of ourselves. We present ourselves with style and creativity, proud to express who we are. We’re not afraid of being noticed and being unique; why would we be? We’re proud of our achievements, of how we conduct ourselves and what we contribute to the world.

It’s when we feel good about ourselves, good on the inside, that we find it easy to celebrate who we are externally by experimenting with our personal image and trying new styles. If we’re happy with what we’re presenting to the world we’ll stand taller, we’ll smile more. In turn we’ll look more radiant, people will notice, some will comment, and this will reinforce how good we feel inside. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

But if we’re not feeling good about ourselves – if we feel we have failed someone or not pulled off something we’d hoped we could our self-esteem and confidence can plummet. As a result we might hide ourselves away, have reduced energy and motivation for exercise, eat lazy fats and carbs meals, drink too much. We rarely feel like celebrating our unique selves sartorially when we don’t feel good inside. Rather than wear stuff that draws attention – new colour combos, shapes that highlight our shape, a funky new haircut – we generally hide ourselves in nondescript clothing (yes, I know normcore is a style, but that’s a topic for another day!)

**The fact is with wardrobes and heads, what’s going on in one will no doubt be reflected in the other. Our inside and outside impact each other directly.**

But the beauty of making one positive change is that it will encourage you to make others. So let’s say you want to start working on the inside first. The good news is that there are ways you can lift your mood, to help you feel better inside.

If you acknowledge that we are what we eat then you’ll understand that food plays a vital role in determining our mood.

Certain foods perpetuate the downward spiral we may find ourselves in: trans fats, sugar, too many simple carbohydrates – they’re all best avoided. Certain foods are natural mood lifters – those containing folate and magnesium for example. Eating them regularly as well as leafy greens and whole grains, is going to help you feel good inside and to view things more positively.

Exercise, too, is a proven mood enhancer, as is meditation. There is research to demonstrate that regular exercise alters serotonin levels in the brain leading to improved mood and feelings of wellbeing. Meditation assists with anxiety and, practiced regularly, will soon have you feeling calmer and looking refreshed.

Imagine eating your way to a better mood, getting that serotonin going through some activity you enjoy, such as dancing or walking briskly, sleeping better and relaxing all those tensed up muscles because you meditate – wow, you’ll really glow! Inside and out.

Lifting your mood enhances the way you see yourself and boosts your self-esteem. Your body will radiate all that ‘feel good’ energy. This has the magical flow on effect of you appearing to move that body fluidly rather than self-consciously and projecting your voice with confidence. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that we humans find positive body language and good posture very attractive.

Now let’s flip this around; what you wear can impact how you feel. There’s a few ways this can occur. Have you ever accidentally caught sight of your reflection and thought “wow – I look better than I thought” or “that outfit really suits me” or “who is that babe?!” ?

This will put a spring in your step, you’ll hold your head higher and your self-esteem will be spiked. This automatically gives you an added glow and inner confidence, and paired with a welcoming smile, this will have a big impact on the way you’re perceived by others. Positivity is magnetic.

Taking the trouble to choose clothes that show your shapely ankles, your strong shoulders, your hourglass curves or whatever it is you love about your body, might just delight you and give you a happy lift. And it doesn’t have to be expensive – you don’t need a whole wardrobe of new stuff. Just knowing what colours complement your skin, what shapes harmonise with your own and what silhouettes to create that show your shape in a way you’re happy with is all it takes.

So we’ve discussed how dressing your body in things you like pleases you visually and helps you feel happier but there’s another way taking time with your sartorial style helps you feel better inside. Whether or not we consider ourselves to be judgmental, we all make snap assessments of the people we meet. And this generally occurs in less than five seconds. Yikes! What can we reveal about ourselves in five seconds? Very little really. We’re barely able to manage a sentence in five seconds. That’s why your visual appearance is powerful.

Very often what we conceive about a person is subconscious, but the mind is quick. In a split second our visual and olfactory senses have processed information so it’s useful to think about what we’d like to convey with our presence and plan for that. As a visual example, without knowing anything about colour theory we may notice a person’s eye colour jumping out at us because it’s matched to their scarf, or their skin looking muddy or clear simply because of the shirt colour they’ve selected.

More importantly we notice if someone has taken time with their appearance. If they’re meeting you in a professional context for example, putting some thought into their appearance shows that they take the situation seriously. Their visual appearance may not be the most important thing about them, but it is the first piece of information you are offered, and first impressions are difficult to forget.

By putting some thought and care into your presentation you can influence the way people perceive you and respond to you. If you’re treated well by others, respected or appreciated, it will help you feel good inside. Again, this doesn’t have to be an expensive exercise – some forward planning and a little knowledge goes a long way.

Our clothes are the boundary between our innermost private world of feelings and the unknown outside world, and while acting as armour, they also broadcast so much about our inner selves. What we choose to wear is inextricably linked to the way we feel.

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Donna Cameron is a personal style specialist and director of Body Map. Her passions are colour, design and helping women feel confident about who they are. Drawing on sociological understandings of communication, social bonding, power dynamics and identity Donna helps clients identify how to convey their intended messages. Her understanding of aesthetics is informed by design principles and proportions, textures, colours and shapes as they apply to the body.
Her approach is entirely new in equally privileging the semantic and the aesthetic and helping clients appreciate their inter-relationship. As a director of Body Map, Donna's work is underpinned by her understanding that feeling and appearance are mutually informing. Body Map supports women in a way that demonstrates a realistic comprehension of contemporary women's motivations and concerns.