Power dressing used to be all about women being seen as equal to men. Now it’s about expressing your true self and feeling confident. Below we take a look through the history of corporate attire, its meaning, and a few tips on how to do it right.
History of Power Dressing
In the 70s, women penetrated corporate and political circles historically dominated by men. Ladies took managerial roles that, up to that point, seemed out of their reach. It was a major achievement, but still, there was a problem. A lack of authority.
People just didn’t see women as equal to men.
Female leaders didn’t get the respect their male counterparts got. They were believed not to possess the qualities needed to be a good manager. The reason – the stereotypical view was that they were all masculine and thus lacking in women.
One possible solution came from fashion.
A new style trend was born – power dressing. At the time, it was mostly about taking staples of male clothing and applying them to the female attire. Women dressed in versions of suits and jackets that likened them to men. This, it was believed, would earn them authority and respect.
As a matter of fact, the less feminine, the better.
This corporate and political uniform aimed at defeminizing and desexualizing women. The more man-like, the better. Breasts were hidden, jewelry – down-stated and popping colours typical of women’s fashion were substituted for more conservative choices.
Luckily, this changed in the following decades.
This was the era power dressing was born. And at first, it wasn’t very imaginative. It was more or less men’s fashion redone for women. Structured pinstripe suits that hid the female forms. No flashing jewelry.
Still, there were fashion designers who empowered women without taking their femininity from them. Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent took on the trend with remarkable results.
The 1980s is probably the decade that everybody thinks of when power dressing comes up.
It was defined by such icons of the style like Margaret Thatcher and, as everyone will tell you, Melanie Griffith in Working Girl. They set the rules for what the characteristics of the style should be – authoritative but without losing the feminine touch.
As a matter of fact, the 80s laid the foundation for a major shift in the trend.
Suits now came in bold colours, typical of women’s fashion, exaggerated and contrasting forms, and were more a statement than a way to blend in.
The last years of the 20th century cemented the trend for feminizing power dressing.
This decade saw the use of fabrics typically associated with women’s fashion like silk and satin. The silhouettes became less conservative, more frivolous, or unapologetically sensual even.
The shackles of the initial approach to the style were officially destroyed.
The 90s broke up with the cliches associated with power dressing and even brought the irony typical of the decade to it, thanks to popular culture.
During that time, Donna Karan stepped in among fashion designers who captured the spirit of the 80s like Armani and Calvin Klein with her sexy creations that still commanded respect.
In the first years of the new millennium, women didn’t have so much to prove. This reflected fashion as well. The corporate room saw the appearance of office attire that was much more relaxed.
That was the predecessor of what modern power dressing is.
Power Dressing Now
The style has evolved into a more psychological realm.
While at first it was directed at others, making them see women more like men, it is now turned to the female psyche.
Power dressing is not about a concrete type of clothing – a pantsuit, a jacket, or a blouse, for example. It’s about what makes women feel comfortable and confident. In a sense, the understanding that clothes make the woman is still true. However, it is now clear that it’s much more about feelings and not looks.
That’s why the general rule nowadays is to dress how you like.
A woman may not necessarily wear a suit to work. Now a t-shirt and jeans are perfectly acceptable office attire. The important thing for her is to find that piece of clothing that makes her feel comfortable and confident, that makes her feel invincible and ready to take over the world.
Because this is what power dressing is all about.
And it may be everything. From a modern version of the classic pantsuit or a skirt and jacket combo to a deconstructed tuxedo or a high fashion piece. One thing is certain – it’s all about expressing who you are as a woman. In that way, modern-day power dressing is all about a return to femininity.
Below are few tips on how to do it.
How to Master the Style
1. Express Your Personality
Pretending you are someone else won’t help you be seen as an authoritative figure who commands respect. Be at peace with yourself, don’t hide and choose clothes that express who you are and make you happy.
Let your personality speak.
Knowing you are true to yourself and honest with everybody else will help your confidence.
2. Choose Your Clothes Accordingly
Being properly dressed for the occasion will make you calmer and again – more confident. Clothes that convey “I know where I am, and I know what I am doing here” will send a powerful message to your audience.
This is about comfort, too.
If you know you will be on the go the whole day, choose clothes that won’t feel restraining and suffocating as this will make you nervous and worsen your performance.
3. Invest in Quality Pieces
This is no occasion for clothes that are made of cheap materials, badly sewn, or have the wrong fit. All of this will make you feel uncomfortable in them and will probably take the attention away from you and your work to what’s on you.
Not only your coworkers’ and partners’ but also your own.
You’ll be worried about how you look, whether what you are wearing is going to betray you in the worst possible moment, and so on.
So, choose pieces of reassuringly high quality.
Also, try to pick garments that are timeless, not trendy.
Being stylish never goes out of style, as they say.
If you are on the lookout for power dressing clothes, why don’t you have a look through our collection? We are dedicated to empowering women by exploring femininity and helping them return to their feminine essence.
Pick clothes that are made out of high-quality fabrics and are designed in such a way that will never make you just throw them away.
They are suitable for the office and for every situation in which you may need a little confidence boost.
And yes, just a little.
Because true power resides inside you.