Finding Your Personal Style to Boost Confidence and Break Barriers for Black Women

“Dress for success.”

You’ve heard the phrase. But what does it really mean? 

Some interpret it as dressing for the job you want by fitting the mold. Others think it’s more about the feeling you have while wearing something. 

Solita C. Roberts is the founder of Style To Impact and works with women of color to bring out their personal style so they can live authentically and break barriers. It’s more than revamping your wardrobe—Solita believes that your personal style can truly revamp your life. 

So, “dressing for success” is being authentically you and showing up in the spaces you want to be in. 

Together we discussed why clothes and style matter so much and how to break barriers for other black women by being yourself. You can listen to Solita’s full interview on episode 29 of Unlocking the Club podcast or keep reading here for her main insights. 

Celebrating Yourself

Two confident black women sitting next to eachother, shoulders touching, smiling and laughing

So much of what Solita does as a personal stylist, speaker, and coach is to help women learn to celebrate who they are. Her primary way of doing this is by helping them use clothes that represent their personalities and inspire confidence in their goals. 

We’ll get more into why clothing is so important, but let’s first start with why it’s important to celebrate yourself in general—why it’s okay to stop, slow down, and recognize everything you’ve done and are doing. 

As black women, we’re often on the “go, go, go” track, trying to accomplish so many things. 

And, generally, we’re taught to keep looking at what’s next—what are the big goals you want to accomplish? 

And while it’s good to have big goals, they can be overwhelming. If you feel like you’re not moving forward or not where you want to be yet, take some advice from Solita: focus on the small wins.

This could look like:

  • Pausing and acknowledging what you’ve accomplished today, even if it’s as simple as getting out for a walk. 
  • Look at where you were a few months or years ago compared to where you are today—you’ve made progress, but are you celebrating it? 
  • Focus only on the immediate next step instead of the big, wide picture. 

By doing these simple and small things, you are recognizing the amazing things you’re doing. You’re honoring where you’ve been and where you want to go. And, you’re sowing the seeds of confidence to keep pushing forward toward your goals. 

Clothing for Confidence

A hanging wardrobe of clothing

Another essential tool to reach big goals is your wardrobe. 

If Solita taught me anything in this conversation, it’s that we cannot underestimate the power of clothing. 

You see, Solita is not a personal stylist that just helps her clients with a new look. She’s not handing out lists of “top 10 must-have wardrobe items.” 

Instead, she uses clothing as a tool to uncover, explore, and shine a light on who each woman is as a unique individual. And, through clothing, you are able to gain the confidence to walk into the rooms and spaces you are meant to be in. It’s about making an impact as your true self. 

So how can clothes do that for a person? What is the psychology of clothing that helps you feel good and confident about yourself?

For Solita, it comes down to intentionality. Each morning when she opens up her closet she pauses to reflect on a few things:

  • How she wants to feel in her clothes (i.e., bold and vibrant or more relaxed and chill). 
  • The colors, accessories, and pieces that will show off parts of her personality. 
  • How she wants others to perceive her. 
  • What makes her feel confident.
  • How to honor her history and culture. 

Solita also thinks about what the environment dictates, though this is a secondary consideration—the key is to choose clothes based on your desired feeling first, then what’s appropriate for the occasion. 

When you dress from a place of authenticity—what feels true to you and your personality—you will walk into any space with confidence. 

More than that, comparison will be a thing of the past. You’re feeling good and can celebrate other women feeling good, too. 

Showing Up with Authenticity 

A confident black woman wearing sunglasses, posing for the camera

Intentionality about clothing and your personal style primes you for major impact. 

Just imagine walking into a room confident. 

Consider the feeling of knowing who you are and knowing other people can see it, too. 

Think about how being authentic to yourself, your history, your struggles, and your culture can actually break down barriers. Because you better believe this—if you walk into your new place of work rocking your natural hair from day one, everyone else will just have to get on board.

Every time a black woman or woman of color shows up as her authentic self, she paves the way for the next group of women to do the same. 

Walking in confidence and authenticity has another benefit: it tells people how you expect to be treated. It shows them how to respect you. 

Because you do not change yourself to fit an environment—you change your environment if it is expecting you to change. People will have their biases, and you can’t change it. But you can control how you show up in a space and what you do if people don’t accept your authentic self. 

Finally, dressing for success by embracing your personal style will open doors to spaces and rooms you want to be in. When you have confidence in who you are and what you bring to the table—a confidence everyone else can see—you are empowered to make an impact on those around you. 

Your style is much more than just clothes. It’s not a frivolous pursuit or something too simple to care about. Investing in your personal style is investing in yourself. By being authentic to who you are, you’re able to make the impact you were put here on earth to make. 

If you’re curious to learn more from Solita, make sure you listen to her full episode on the podcast. We talked more about Solita’s background and experience as an immigrant to the US and how it shaped her identity. 

Solita works with professional women who want to build a wardrobe that supports their brand image and authentically represents who they are. You can also visit her website, Style To Impact, or connect with her on LinkedIn or Instagram