I’m an ardent supporter of the “look good, feel good” mantra, and “dress well, test well” is a close second, or at least … it used to be. Though I may have planned a few outfit/accessory combinations the night before I took the ACT in high school (convinced the mysticism of the right clothing combinations brought me to the University) the motivation to look effortlessly put-together becomes more difficult to muster in college and I often find myself sporting last night’s pajamas when I take my exams.
I surely don’t feel my best when my friends can’t tell if they’re eating lunch with an undercover bag lady or their friend who aspires to eventually cultivate a yuppie lifestyle — complete with a perfectly tailored Bergdorf Goodman wardrobe. Perhaps it’s easier to express how you feel on the outside than explain how the stress of two exams catalyzed an existential crisis, resulting in your surrender to sweatpants.
So has the confidence I used to draw from clothing faded throughout my limited college career? Absolutely. I quickly succumbed to a new lethargic lifestyle, constant hunger for anything that can be delivered directly to my bedside and productivity contrasted by equal amounts of laziness. And because of that, I no longer considered my outward appearance a priority. Yet I yearned for that lost confidence, that feeling of knowing I used to dress somewhat decently and reflecting it in my mood.
Though it may not be apparent in my everyday outfit choices, I still believe in the immeasurable confidence that comes from dressing well. Perhaps it’s pretentious, superstitious even, to place such a high value on the power of clothes beyond the obvious social advantages. However, I rely on aesthetically pleasing attire to contrast my frivolous nature (so people take me seriously, like, just a little bit). I attribute some of a person’s confidence to the power of a structured exterior, and I don’t find this to merely be a personal belief, but a media trend that extends far beyond me.
Let’s examine Andy Sachs, played by Anne Hathaway in “The Devil Wears Prada.” In the beginning she’s the epitome of everything fashion isn’t — unkempt, badly dressed, while also blithely unaware of the fashion industry’s doyen interviewing her, Miranda Priestley (Meryl Streep, “August: Osage County”). Yet after fairy godfather Nigel’s (Stanley Tucci, “Easy A”) harsh yet sage advice on how to thrive rather than be defeated by the cutthroat realities of the industry, combined with his access to the closet of Runway magazine, Andy is morphed into an icon in her own right.
Her fashionable ascent endows her with the confidence and poise to face all adversity she encounters (i.e. when Emily makes fun of her, she retaliates with Chanel boots), and she’s soon running the show that is Runway magazine. That’s the power of clothes, their powers turn you into a #GirlBoss, which takes you to Paris even though you’re not the editor’s first assistant … and Gisele compliments you at work. Just look at Miranda, terrifying any and everyone in her path of chicness, fueled by the confidence of clothes.
Even the inspiration for the film came from the stories of the most confident and well-dressed woman at Condé Nast, at Vogue, in the world — the elusive, forever unapproachable, goddess who makes flip phones OK: Anna Wintour. Her existence is a spectacle, consisting of Blahnik and Birkins … but most importantly, she’s a woman in charge of what many regard as the fashion bible, and she runs the show looking immaculately polished, and why? Because simply appearing well dressed signifies one’s importance, and being aware of this when you’re looking fresh is lethal.
Clothing and mood are undeniably interconnected, as any shopaholic can attest. As evidenced by any powerful woman of the 21st century, it’s as if appearing à la mode whenever possible is essential to success. More often than not, first ladies have become fashion icons, as they accentuate their place in the public eye with a refined exterior. Hillary will never betray her beloved rainbow of pantsuits, as they have become integral part of her identity, and a symbol of her enormous ambition.
So why after taking 45 minutes to get all dressed up and make it to the club do Beyoncé and average college students alike feel as if we can run the world? Because we look like we can.