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Changing Your Clothes Can Lead the Way in a Career or Life Transition

Changing Your Clothes Can Lead the Way in a Career or Life Transition

I think you’d be surprised how much clothing comes up when talking with my career and business coaching clients. What is it about what we wear that seems to have such power over us? You can choose clothes that fit who you are, or who you are realizing you are becoming.

Haven’t you put on a nice outfit and you suddenly feel like a million bucks? (Like The Red-Headed Diva shown in the photo.) Conversely, the wrong outfit can ruin your mood.

Sometimes we pretend we’re “above” that fashion stuff (while we secretly watch makeover shows). Let’s forget about judging or questioning it. Instead, let’s take a lesson from the drag queens who know the power of a great outfit!

Let’s consciously use that power of our clothes for our benefit.

I’ve had those days I felt like a million bucks… and days when my outfit ruined my day. Finally I took time to notice what made the difference so I could have more of the “feeling great” days. That feeling seeps into my confidence and how people respond to me.

We think we have to wait until we’re confident to wear something bold but I recommend trying it the other way around. Let your clothes lead the way.

Do Try This At Home

Notice what you’re wearing right now. Ask yourself:

  1. Is it me?
  2. How do I feel in it?
  3. Is it more subdued or “frumpy” than I really want to be?
  4. Is there an outfit I’d rather wear that I think I’m not “ready” for?
  5. Time to toss it?

When my clients begin to have a new vision for their lives, they sometimes realize they’re wearing clothes that don’t reflect their new vision. They were dressing like someone they thought they were supposed to be.

Tips to Dress Like Who You Are Becoming

A great way to step into a new life is to literally change your clothes. Finding a new look takes time and experimentation. A little guidance for starters:

  1. Notice what style is calling you. For some people it’s about wearing something brighter, less “businessy,” or more sophisticated. What is it for you?
  2. Go shopping with someone that can help you stretch into the new you.
  3. Look in your own closet to dig out those items that you deemed too bold before.
  4. When trying on new looks, ask yourself:
    • Is this ME?
    • Is this the look I want?
    • Do I feel great in it?
  5. Once you find that YES outfit, let in the positive effect on you. If you feel like standing up straighter, let it happen.

It’s not about fixing anything.
It’s about allowing.

Coming Out as YOU!

Some women dress more feminine than they feel because they’re afraid to appear too “butch” for our culture. While other women dress more subdued so they’ll be taken as seriously as men. Men and transgender people have their own versions of these gender-related clothing themes. Not to mention all the other identity issues that come up with clothes.

No matter what the story, I’ve seen this positive outcome over and over:

The more you dress like how you feel inside,
the more people respond positively,
no matter how “freaky” you feel.

It’s just like the ugly duckling that felt ugly until she realized she was a swan.

It can feel like “coming out” and I know that’s a big deal, but remember that you’re coming out as a swan! You will be embraced much more than you think because people are drawn to authenticity.

When you dress from the inside out, that’s when you’ll feel like a million bucks.


  • Consider hiring an image consultant.
  • Dress for Success
    An organization that provides professional attire and career guidance to disadvantaged women.
  • Find a local store that is dedicated to helping their customers find their own look. Locally owned boutique stores can be great at that. (Yes, cost might be higher but you’ll need less clothes when it’s just right, and they tend to last longer.) Don’t settle for a place that pushes the wrong look on you.

Your Stories or Opinions?

I’d love hearing your comments below.

Picture of Val Nelson

Val Nelson

I’ve been a self-employed career/business/purpose coach since 2009. I help introverts and HSPs (like me) who want to make a difference — in a way that fits our practical needs too.
Val Nelson | Coaching | Groups | Courses | Newsletter | LinkedIn

I appreciate feedback, good and bad. You can comment below or email.

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5 thoughts on “Changing Your Clothes Can Lead the Way in a Career or Life Transition”

  1. Its very difficult to decide what to wear as formal or informal wear. Pant suits are considered to be suitable for every occasion whether as a formal wear or as a wedding dress. They are available in different styles and designs. Woman really look stunning in these pant suits.

  2. Val,

    On Saturday night my wife and I went shopping for me. She is an artist and understands color. She helped me pick out some clothes that I would never have considered, with my Brooks Bros. mindset.

    I am excited about using clothing to call the proper attention to myself- standing out in a good way.

  3. Hi Val…you are addressing a topic that is close to my heart. My implementation of this concept might be a little different (I wear pajamas in public)…but the end result is the same. I feel incredibly confident when I wear my PJs to events.

    And I can vouch for the whole idea of being embraced for “coming out” and being myself. (Quite literally. I get lots of hugs, seems I’m flannel and fluffy.) My outfit acts like a magnet: people are either attracted or repelled.

    Thank you for this post – and especially for taking a more open, non-judgmental “you must dress for success” stand in it!

    1. Patty,
      Thanks for sharing such a perfect example of dressing like yourself and
      being embraced for it. I love that you put “Wearer of Pajamas” in your
      website tag line! Ha ha.

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