Diddy and Jay-Z Redefine the Power Suit at the Pre Grammy’s Lunch
Dark blue suit, white shirt, a bold red tie. According to countless articles and books about attaining success in business, this combination culminates into what is known as the power suit. Like a firm handshake and prepared negotiation statements, it’s meant to convey confidence and, more importantly, dominance. The power suit says, “Listen to me, I’m in charge.” Or at least that’s what it’s supposed to say.
(Western) menswear has evolved in the past few years. It has gotten more interesting, thanks to a redefinition of masculinity in modern culture. “No homo” is no longer an acceptable facet of our cultural lexicon and, in turn, cisgender heterosexual men are slowly coming to term with the fact that departing from traditional menswear looks will not subvert their manhood. And it’s about fucking time.
Granted, there have always been outlandishly stylish aberrations, but I’m speaking to the normalization of the avant-garde in mens fashion. This shift is seen on the red carpet. No longer are celebrities taking the phrase “black tie event” literally. Stars like Jaden Smith, John Boyega, and Michael B. Jordan exemplify how exciting and daring a simple suit can be. You don’t have to sacrifice personality to be sophisticated, which brings us back to the power suit.
In this new era of menswear, the traditional power suit seems outdated and more indicative of a need for validation and overcompensation. And this goes beyond fashion. Our cultural values are changing. My generation grew up in a time when one of the most successful entrepreneurs wore a t-shirt and hoodie to meetings.
Vanessa Friedman illustrates the connection between the fall of the Wall Street style and transformative global and cultural events in this New York Times article:
The stereotype style has been eroded by the global financial crisis, sure, but also casual Fridays; the rise of the entrepreneurial class, especially in technology; and the growth of a shadow banking sector — the venture capitalists and hedge funds and private equity firms that have their own, less identifiable uniform, much of which can be characterized by what it is not: the banker clothing of yore.
In the past decade, we as a nation have seen first-hand the harm those symbols of dominance and power can cause. In turn, we now value authenticity, especially from the powers that be.
The new power suit
Together Diddy and Jay-Z are worth a little over 1.3 billion dollars. With that amount of capital, they could’ve donned the flashiest cuff links, suspenders, and ties at the Pre-Grammy’s lunch, but they chose not to. They don’t have to prove anything to anyone through dress. Who they are comes through in Jay-Z’s simple, yet sophisticated double-breasted burgundy suit and Diddy’s complementary double-breasted dusty rose overcoat.
I mean, just look at these suits. They are the definition of distinguished all while using “soft” colors. These aren’t just power suits, they are statement suits. The statement? I’m fresh as fuck... and I didn’t have to try that hard.
And it makes sense that the moguls who built their empires using their own unique and non-traditional avenues would take the same approach while wearing their own power suits. These looks illustrate that, in this day and age, a suit does not imbue power because of a specific color combination. That power must shine through from within.
And, at further risk of sounding like an inspirational teen movie, wearing something distinct that speaks to who you are as a person is more of a power play than wearing the same outfit as the numerous other people who have read the same business books you have. If there’s ever been a time to embrace the unique and off-beat in menswear, it’s now. So whether it’s for a job interview or an important meeting, wear what speaks to your distinct offerings. That’s the biggest power move you have.