Dress for Success

November 7, 2016
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WORDS BY VICKY MCFARLANE

When we think of Power Dressing images of women in tailored business suits with bigger than big shoulder pads may come to mind. Power Dressing, or ‘the wearing of expensive business clothing to indicate status’, became fashionable among working men and women in the United States and Britain during the 1980s where sharp, hard lines of tailored business suits were designed to convey an image of power and success – the goal was to look like an executive whether you were one or not.

Although the concept of power dressing is still very much alive, you don’t have to look like a 1980’s throwback to dress for success.

From the 1920’s Chanel suit, accessorized with a string of pearls, to Yves Saint Laurent’s famous ‘le smoking’suit in the 60’s, to Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren, and Anne Klein’s wide shouldered suits of the 70’s and 80’s; power dressing has indeed come a long way.

Today, the ‘power suit’ is more fashionable, with feminine items considered just as powerful. It is all about looking the part and projecting the right image. There’s no need to actually be in a position of power to dress powerfully- power dressing is for anyone who wishes to display confidence and professionalism. The key however is to wear what you love, because if you are wearing something that is not your style, it’s probably going to show  – and being confident in your looks is a major part of portraying confidence and power.

Right now the trend is for matching suit sets, which is great as these ensembles can really communicate a sense of power. If you choose to wear a suit, or perhaps a tailored shift and matching jacket, pick a classic cut, a lightweight fabric, and a neutral color. An important tip for power dressing is to wear well fitting, tailored clothing. There is nothing worse than an ill-fitting suit. Hemming your pants or adjusting the waistline of a blazer can make all the difference – Every working woman should own a well-fitted black blazer. Adding a blazer to your outfit is one of the easiest tips for modern power dressing, and will instantly smarten up your outfit.

But you don’t have to stick to fitted, tailored clothes to work power dressing into your wardrobe. Luxurious fabrics such as silk and cashmere are perfect. Although any color (or even print) can be powerful, investing in strong black pieces means you can always mix them with any other colors to add a burst of powerful flair.

Shoes speak volumes about the wearer so be sure to select the highest quality pair you can afford that are comfortable, yet have a bit of height. In most cases, you can’t go wrong with a basic black pair of pumps. Choose ones in a patent finish with a more pointed toe. Open toe shoes are generally not recommended for the corporate go-getter.

Accessories are important but don’t overdo it. When choosing jewellery keep it classy and elegant. A chic necklace, a classic watch, and a stylish bag that goes with your suit are all you need. Just remember your bag shouldn’t be so big that it looks like you are going for a weekend away! You want pieces that are stylish but not too trend-based or overpowering – keep it simple.

Never forget that the impact of a perfectly fitted and accessorised outfit will be lost without impeccable grooming and a good attitude. So, make sure your hair is clean and neatly cut, nails manicured and eyebrows are well groomed. Wear minimal makeup and most importantly – smile!

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