They look at you like you don’t exist…
Like they’re embarrassed for you…
Like they’re laughing at you…
Like eagles look at a rat.
Ever been there?
I have. I used to be an awkward, badly dressed nerd.
Once you’ve seen those looks in people’s eyes, it’s hard to shake the feeling that you deserve them. No matter how many times you decide to be confident, you still feel like a loser—and it shows.
It’s not your fault. Your brain can’t help jumping to conclusions. But you can turn this to your advantage—make it jump to the conclusion that you’re a winner instead.
The science of enclothed cognition tells us that clothes affect how we see ourselves. In one experiment, students scored higher on an exam when they were given a white coat to wear and told that it was a doctor’s coat.
Their brains basically said, ‘I’m wearing a doctor’s coat. Doctors are smart. I must be smart!’—and then went ahead and proved it.
And it’s not just clothing. Every aspect of how we present ourselves, from body language to smell, has a powerful effect on our confidence and performance. Here are 10 easy ways to make that work for you.
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#1. Get A GREAT Haircut
If anything, hair affects your sense of self even more than clothes. It’s literally a part of you, and the style of your hair can completely change the look of your face.
Research from Yale shows that ‘bad hair days’ dramatically affect self-esteem and social insecurity, make us see ourselves as having more character flaws—and cause men, even more than women, to feel less smart and less competent.
Sloppy socks are for little boys, not men. Walking around with messy clothes tells your brain that you are not a man who strives for high ideals or achieves excellence. ‘Pull your socks up’ means ‘do better and be better’ for a reason.
A great way to avoid saggy socks is to wear shirt stays, which keep both your shirt and your socks in place. They have an old-school gentlemanly vibe that connects you subconsciously to a time of high ideals and noble conduct. You can get a pair as a tangible reminder that you can and will ‘pull your socks up’.
#3. Tuck Your Shirt In
Ever seen a soldier on parade with a puffy muffin top shirt? Ever seen soldiers breaking formation to tuck their shirts in?
No—a shirt that keeps coming untucked is unprofessional, awkward, and distracting. The military won’t stand for it, and neither should you. As an ex-Marine, I can tell you that any time you see military men in dress uniform, all of those guys are wearing shirt stays.
KK & Jay’s shirt stays update the classic design with a full grain leather joiner that not only looks better but also keeps the stays from turning and twisting. If you go to KK & Jay’s site there’s one customer review that I think sums it up. ‘You can’t help but feel awesome whilst strutting around in these.’
Another thing you learn as a Marine is how to spit-shine your shoes. The time and effort spent on polishing your boots is a hallmark of military discipline. Looking down and seeing that perfect mirror shine reminds you that you live by the highest standards.
In civilian life, the difference between polished shoes and dull scuffed shoes can make or break an outfit. Here’s how to shine your shoes the Marine way—and if that seems like too much trouble, here’s how to shine shoes in one minute.
#5. Shave Like A Man
The way your grandfather shaved is still the best shave you can get. Wet shaving with a metal razor gives you a closer, smoother shave, is better for your skin, and saves you about $300 a year over cartridge or electric razors.
But the no.1 benefit of wet shaving? In my view, it’s how it makes you feel. This classic manly skill turns shaving from a hurried chore into a pleasurable ritual that leaves you feeling powerful, stylish and masculine.
Check out my article on wet shaving to get started.
In one study, some unlucky men were given a placebo deodorant that left them stinky. After a few days, the men not only rated themselves as less confident and less attractive—women rated them as less attractive on video. Even when the women couldn’t smell the BO, they could smell the insecurity!
But smelling good goes way beyond keeping your armpits fresh. A good cologne can boost your confidence further and increase your attractiveness—and like a wet shave, the ritual of putting on cologne before you face the world becomes a subtle form of armor that makes you feel your best.
Check out my introduction to fragrance for all you need to know about choosing your signature scent.
#7. Tidy Nails
You look at your hands all the time. If you see dirty, chewed nails, what does that tell you about yourself?
Taking care of your nails isn’t just for women. A gentleman’s nails should be neatly filed short, cleaned, and buffed. Biting them in front of people isn’t a good look, either. 🙂 Having well-groomed nails that look good can help motivate you to break the habit.
Click here to learn about essential nail grooming tools for men. A nice bonus is that you can find a lot of these tools on a pocket knife. If you think doing your nails can’t make you feel manly, you’ve never tried doing them with a Swiss Army knife.
#8. Carry A Knife And Handkerchief
Carrying a pocket knife does two things for you. First, it makes you feel prepared and capable. If somebody needs help or something goes wrong, you’re going to be there with your trusty pocket tool to make it right.
Second, it makes you feel armed. I personally choose not to carry a gun (though I support men who do.) But having a knife in your pocket tells some ancient part of your brain that you have your sword by your side. Until recently, every man would have at least worn a knife at his belt.
Along with your pocket knife, carry a handkerchief—in fact, carry two, one to use and one to lend. You’re prepared to take care of others emotionally as well as practically. Plain white monogrammed handkerchiefs are classically elegant, but if you want a handkerchief you can use to flag people down in an emergency, choose red.
#9. Wear A Watch
Research shows that wearing a watch actually improves your punctuality and conscientiousness. Like shiny shoes, it acts as a reminder of the standards you set for yourself and keeps you conscious of your valuable time.
A good-looking watch makes you feel powerful and masculine. It can be a status symbol or a talking point. It also gets rid of any awkwardness when people ask you the time. Do you want to be fumbling in your pocket for your phone when a beautiful woman asks you the time—or do you want to be checking a handsome watch?
Click here to learn all about how to wear a watch with style.
#10. Have Good Posture
We all know that body language affects people’s perception of you. But did you know it also affects your perception of yourself?
A Harvard study found that people did better in a mock job interview when they used a high-power stance (legs apart, hands on hips) while preparing—when the interviewer couldn’t even see them. Their brains said, ‘I’m standing like Superman, I must be powerful,’ and acted accordingly.
Those who huddled in a low-power stance with their arms and legs crossed felt less confident and did less well.
Standing with your spine straight and your head held high makes you feel like a man of discipline and integrity who won’t hesitate to ‘stand up’ for himself, his loved ones, and his principles. It’s another thing they teach in the military for a reason.
Good posture also improves concentration, reduces muscle tension, minimizes a beer belly, and makes you look taller. Convinced yet? Take a look at how to improve your posture.
If I’ve made you want to ‘pull your socks up’ and tell your brain you’re a better man than it thinks—take two steps to confidence in one click by checking out KK & Jay’s shirt stays! Don’t forget to use code RMRS8 for a special discount.