THE BRAZEN CAREERIST- Confident U: Clothes can change your attitude

I woke up today with crust all over my left eye: pinkeye. And on the way to the bathroom I stepped on edible gold-leaf dust for decorating cupcakes. And apparently sometime in the night the cat ate my son's map of Wisconsin. And threw it up.

At times like this, I wish there was a morning-after type anti-depressant that you could take as sort of an immediate pick-me-up. I remembered that a friend once told me that Advil works that way, once in a while. So I popped a couple.

Advil did not work. I put antibiotics in my eye and tossed on an old sweatshirt and jeans that are so big they fit like sweatpants. And I headed out the door to go to work.

Then I turned around and went back in the house.

I think people do startups for a variety of reasons. Sometimes we're not even sure what the reasons are until after we get started.

I moved to Wisconsin from New York City a year ago. It was a traumatic move, where we had to leave behind almost everything we own. And there was big culture shock when we got to Madison.

The way I dealt with the trauma was blogging every day (therapeutic structure to a crazy life) in my pajamas (a nod to the fact that I was working alone and in fundamental disarray).

For the most part, when I had to show up and meet someone somewhere, I would pull things together a bit. But the bloggers I met revealed the truth: one who came through from San Francisco met me in Madison for breakfast, and his first comment was, "You don't look like your photo." Another had lunch with me in Madison, and then she blogged about my ratty shoes.

So it was clear that I wasn't holding things together that well. I decided I had to go back to dressing up for work. Not suit and skirt or anything like that. But not pajamas. Not ratty sneakers.

And something happened– immediately I felt different because I was back to getting dressed to go to work, because there were people I had to see every day. This moment converged nicely with the blossoming of my speaking career, which is one of the most lucrative career moves I've ever made. So I spent a lot of time at Bloomingdales, buying Joe's Jeans and DKNY tops to replace the expensive jeans and black tops I bought six years ago, which was the last time I had to get dressed to go to work.

Then I started wearing makeup. Not a lot, but enough so that I could mark the difference between cleaning up cat puke and writing a blog post. And I felt a little more organized, a little more focused.

So today when I walked out of my house in ratty clothes and no makeup, I turned around. Because now I know that one way to feel better– maybe the most noninvasive anti-depressant of all– is to get dressed up to do work. The best days of work are those when I have the self-confidence to attack the hardest things on my to-do list with the most vigor. And one way to bolster self-confidence is to dress like someone who is self-confident.