What does power dressing mean to you? On what occasions would you feel the need to ‘power dress’ and wear a killer outfit?
I ‘power dress’ when I want to feel confident and project assertiveness; usually in a professional environment.
Power dressing, however, conjures up images of shoulder pads, big hair and towering heels of the 80s when women really started to assert their authority in the boardroom and dressed in a way to pitch themselves again their male counterparts. Melanie Griffith in the film Working Girl epitomises this look and so-called power dressing.
But fortunately, women no longer need to go to such sartorial lengths to establish authority and respect, and the concept of power dressing is fairly outdated.
That said, there are occasions where we need to up our game in terms of our usual attire and a power outfit is required – maybe for an important client meeting, an interview, or speaking at an event perhaps…
Modern day power dressing, in my opinion is all about making an impact… the right impact.
What you wear, and how you wear it, speaks volumes about the person you are. If you take care of your appearance and dress in a way that conveys poise and effectiveness; then that’s the impression you will leave. On the other hand, if you turn up messy and unkempt or inappropriately dressed; you are unlikely to leave a positive imprint no matter what you have to say or offer.
There are some key rules to follow to ensure you dress to impress:
- Don’t deter too far from your usual style. You’ll need to feel comfortable and confident. If you don’t usually wear pencil skirts and heels for example, don’t choose an important engagement to debut this new style.
- Keep lines simple and classic, with a little dose of directional fashion (to show you still have your finger on the pulse!) Don’t go too trendy – you want your outfit to strengthen your image, not define it.
- Keep accessories to a minimum, too much jewellery jingle-jangling is distracting. A statement ring or necklace is all you need.
- Too much flesh is also distracting. No cleavage, exposed bra straps or too-tight tops.
- Make sure your outfit is in good condition. Zero scuffing on shoes and handbags. A greying white shirt won’t cut it, nor will buttons missing from a blazer, or material that creases easily.
- Make up shouldn’t be too heavy and hair should be neat and tidy. Polished and groomed is the look to aim for.
My go-to ‘power’ outfit is a pair of smart trousers with a shirt/blouse, blazer and heels. Right now I love a pussy-bow blouse – it makes me feel totally put-together! Alternatively, a tailored jumpsuit or a classic shirtdress suits my style, is comfortable and yet still projects professionalism!
Wrap Jumpsuit – ASOS
Shirt dress – Mango
So what items of clothing or accessories make you feel powerful? What’s your killer outfit? Do heels still cut for you rather than flats? What about red lipstick?
I recently ran a poll on Instagram asking women if they choose heels or flats to wear when they need to ‘power dress’. 86% responded that they would wear heels – me included! So whilst modern power dressing is much more relaxed, women still choose heels when they want to impress and project power.
I remember attending a sales meeting with female colleagues, where all three of us walked through the City to the meeting venue in flats and changed into our heels in the reception area – just to attend the pitch! Powerful women (of our lifetime) have always been portrayed in heels and it seems that we still associate heels with a sense of professional standing. As long as you feel good in heels, then I see nothing wrong with it… but ‘power flats’ are totally acceptable too!
I’d love you know your thoughts on power dressing and what you wear to attend an important event, either professional or otherwise. Please do leave me a comment below!
Main image features dress from Mango
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