For my entire career, I’ve gotten the most significant confidence boost from a brand new outfit. Something about sliding on a new pair of pants or pulling on a new blazer made me feel like I was unlocking a new part of my potential.
One of the biggest reasons why new clothes conveyed opportunity was the fact that everything already in my closet, even if I loved the items, had memories of when it had been worn in the past. A blazer that fit well was forever marred by a shaky interview whereas a new blazer was a blank slate.
Earlier this year, I found myself with a closet full of clothes and a calendar full of work engagements. But I didn’t feel thrilled with any of my options. What to wear to work may sound like a minor problem, but it turns out that I’m not the only one who finds that what I wear determines how I feel. A study conducted by Thrive Global and Business of Fashion found that reduced anxiety about workwear contributes to more happiness on the job.
Rent clothes; get the “new outfit” feeling
So, I started looking into clothes rental services, like Le Tote and Rent the Runway Every Day, which offer the option to rent designer pieces for a monthly subscription fee. For me, the pricey subscription fee — around $80/month for the current Le Tote subscription I have — seemed worth it. Not only would I get a constantly-refreshed wardrobe, but I hoped it would preclude me from jumping the gun on buying trends that likely wouldn’t last past a season.
To get on board, I had to get past a few hurdles. It’s weird wearing clothes that other people have worn. And I do miss the feeling you get when you rip the tags off a brand-new piece of clothing. For every win (a much-loved black-and-white jumpsuit I rented this summer so much that I bought it) there have been a lot of misses (looking at you, sweater “dress” that barely hit my upper thighs).
But overall, I loved the process. I loved getting a box of new-to-me clothing each week. I liked browsing my choices, sending screenshots of options to friends, and trying them on in my bathroom. I enjoyed planning which outfits to wear to work, to drinks, to dates, during the week. And I loved that no matter how one batch turned out, as soon as I returned my items in a pre-paid envelope, I would get five new options.
It’s never just clothes
Here’s another weird thing: I felt more possibility in clothing that wasn’t mine. When you have something for a long time, it’s all too easy to lump it into a category: the interview blazer, the date night dress, the casual Friday jeans. But without a clothing item’s history, I felt I could mix what I rented with what I already had in my closet.
Finally, I found that it was simply more fun getting dressed in the morning. Is this a huge revelation? Not really. But this simple tweak started my day off on a high note, helping me feel confident and in control all day. This monthly expense changed my attitude and my happiness levels, and I’d even argue that it saved me money. All too often, I’d buy an inexpensive shirt or accessory to have something new. But with something new all the time, I didn’t have the same temptation — and could be more mindful about buying things I loved.
It’s not an insubstantial spend each month. But for me, this fix has transformed my mornings and even given me a little insight into myself — which is way more than I ever expected from a blazer or a skirt.