Power dressing 101

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Celebrities are doing it, corporate execs are doing it, lawyers and activists are doing it, and politicians do it every day… you guessed it – what we’re talking about here is power dressing. Some argue the art of power dressing died a quiet death in the eighties, whilst others – like me – believe it never left, and is more relevant today than ever.

What is power dressing?

Power dressing can be described as wearing a combination of clothes and accessories that radiates dominance, confidence, and professionalism. It is especially fitting in a corporate or professional environment. It stays well away from “casual” and loves the idea of “cool”. It’s not flashy, prides itself in its simplicity and is definitely not unsexy. It is the subtle communicator in the boardroom that adds that little bit of authority to what you’re saying, and is one of the easiest ways to make a good first impression or achieve the “halo effect”.

A little bit of history

The idea that an outfit could change the way a woman is perceived is not new. In the past century, though, this concept became a hot trend in the office environment. It ultimately gave rise to the “power suit” in the eighties, which was essentially a men’s suit tailored for women. Who could forget those hideous masculine shoulder pads! Of course, this notion received some criticism, because why should a woman dress like a man to be taken seriously?

The good news is: power dressing has evolved into something quintessentially feminine. Today, it’s all about being stylish, sexy and sophisticated. And the golden rule? Have as much confidence as your outfit radiates.

How to pull it off

The Huffington Post’s Charlotte Safavi writes “The key for women is to look professional, yet retain their femininity. When power dressing, I propose the latter be achieved through subtleties, the faint scent of perfume, a waist cinched with a crocodile belt, a slight ruffle peeking out of a suit jacket's neck or cuff.”

The two cornerstones of power dressing are attention to detail and simplicity. When it comes to the little things, neglecting a small detail can make a big difference. Make sure that your nails are neat, your clothes are clean and ironed and that your hair is immaculate. If something small is out of place, it can be distracting and can send out an overall message of sloppiness (however subtle).

The second important aspect is simplicity. Looking like a bejewelled smorgasbord does not exactly emanate efficiency and authority. Stick to simple designs and colours, and make choose suits and blazers that are perfectly tailored to your body.

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Powerful fashion elements

Some clothes and accessories are great for your power outfit. These items are known to emit authority and sophistication. Think about what a classy watch can do to a work outfit, sleek black high heels, or perfect-fit blazers. The same goes for high-wasted pencil skirts and trousers and heavy statement necklaces. Red lips, a touch of perfume and sleek hair complements the look.

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Power colours

As far as the colour palette goes – stick to subdued tones like white, beige, tan, black and navy. Contrasting colours, like a combination of black and white is great for power dressing. It is said that we subliminally assign certain characteristics to certain colours. Black, for instance, is commonly perceived as a symbol of security, glamour and excellence. White, on the other hand, stands for simplicity, sophistication, efficiency and elitism. Navy, for trustworthiness. Use these colours to your advantage when planning an outfit.

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Every element carries value when it comes to power dressing. And the fact that the powerful figures in our society practice power dressing every day is indicative of its effectiveness. So for your next appearance in the board room, don’t be afraid to rock that trouser suit and red lips!

About the Author

Alexandra Clement is a passionate fashion editor and works for STYLIGHT: Europe’s most loved fashion community. What does she love most about her job? Visiting Fashion Weeks, discovering the newest trends and talking shop with fashion bloggers. Alex is also determined to discover the best cupcake bakery in London. Got any recommendations for her?

Read Alex's other articles here: www.stylight.co.uk/Magazine