When thinking of fashion, images of glamorous models prowling on the catwalk or ‘smizing’ into a camera may come to mind, but this is only a small part that the fashion industry plays in our day to day lives. For many of us, fashion is a powerful tool used to express everything from our gender and identity, to our beliefs, social standing and authority level.
In the corporate environment, clothing can communicate power and personality, command authority and give you a confident stance that ensures your presence is felt whenever entering a room.
Below, we share some of the secrets to successful power dressing from the women who have become masters at this art.
In what is a male dominated world, these women boldly own and embrace their femininity, showing us how to play (and win) the game without losing our own identities.
When we look up the word “power” in the Oxford Dictionary, one of the definitions that comes up reads as follows:
“The capacity or ability to direct or influence the behaviour of others or the course of events” — now surely that is something we would all like to be a bit better at?
Amal Clooney: Know your Tribe, Dress for the Occasion
Keeping the definition given by the Oxford Dictionary in mind, the first secret of power dressing is simple: know who you want to influence (your tribe).
Amal Clooney may have landed on the red carpet due to her marriage to a film star, but if there is one thing we have learnt from this amazing women (if you’re not on the Amal train yet, just watch her moving speech on ISIS and the protection of women here) it is the importance of dressing for the occasion (and your audience).
Whether gracing the pages of Vanity Fair’s ‘Best Dressed List’ or speaking on behalf of the various causes and people she represents as an international law and human rights lawyer, she is respected and venerated by all who come into contact with her.
She always dresses for the occasion, keeping the people that she will meet that day in mind. When delivering a speech to a crowd on women’s rights and how best to fight ISIS, we see her taking a powerful stance on stage in a conservative pinstriped dress. When she swoons next to her husband on the red carpet to promote his latest film, she does so in floor length gowns which ensure that their image graces the news columns (which, if not familiar with the inner workings of Hollywood, is good for his career and pay-check).
If you’re reading this and thinking, should it really matter what she wears? Shouldn’t her credentials and competency speak for themselves? We agree with you — unfortunately, this is not the world we live in.
From judges to journalists, old-school Etonian businessmen to Venture Capital entrepreneurs, whatever industry we work in: those around you form opinions and they care. This may not be the best thing for the workings of this world, but it is the world we have been given — so work with it.
If you want to direct others decisions and sway them in your favour, just ask yourself, WWACD? (What Would Amal Clooney Do). When meeting with investors, research them: will them feel more comfortable accepting you into their tribe if you wear a hoodie or a suit? If you are meeting your future employer, should you do so in a no frills business dress or something with more pizzazz to show off your creative flair? Whatever the purpose of your power dressing day may be, remember to always keep your audience in mind.
Christine Lagarde: Stand out in a sea of grey, add a touch of personality
If Amal Clooney teaches us the importance of dressing for the occasion, Christine Lagarde reminds us of the importance of adding a personal touch. As one of the most powerful women in global finance, Lagarde is often photographed amid a sea of grey and navy suits. While she respects the conservative dress code of the industry, Lagarde always remembers to use her personal style to assert her individuality and power. It is with good reason that this successful female leader has also won over the hearts of the fashion industry, having landed both on Vanity Fair’s ‘Best Dressed List’ and appearing in Vogue.
The style icon uses accessories such as bold and brightly coloured silk scarves to emphasise her individuality and brighten up what would otherwise be a mono coloured outfit. As per Mirella Zanatta, associate director of programs at brand consulting company Corporate Class Inc in Toronto, Ontario: “Wearing the right scarf in the right way will make you appear to be a refined person who has put thought into your outfit”. Further to this, adding a personal or eccentric accessory can become a status signal: you are high up enough not to have to conform to what everyone else is doing.
Diane von Furstenberg: Choose comfort
Diane Von Furstenberg created the classic 70s wrap dress that celebrates all things feminine, accentuating curves in the right places and prints that compliment all skin tones. Her recognition of a woman’s need to not only look but also feel good is what makes her creation, the wrap dress, so relatable and popular among working women.
The lifestyle and status of Diane von Furstenberg herself soon became synonymous with the easy glamour of the wrap dress: she was part time globe trotting business woman, part time mother, and part time New York socialite. The sleek wrap dress ensured women could look effortlessly chic without having to change wardrobe when transitioning from corner office desk, to glitzy dinner dates.
Being uncompromising in comfort and ease ensures that you feel confident throughout your busy day, after all a comfortable woman is indeed a confident woman — and nothing says power like confidence.
What are your power dressing secrets? Share in the comments below!
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