My passion for fashion which goes back to childhood days has impacted on my outlook towards wearing style. I remember when we were kids, I used to draw and cut out paper dolls and dressed them with colored and various designs/styles of clothing made of paper and other materials which I could see around the house. Instead of buying ready made clothes , our mother would at times purchase clothing materials from a local Chinese merchandise store and since she had a little knowledge of sewing, she would create dresses during weekends for her 7 girls just to keep us up with the trend.
Through the years, my passion for fashion has evolved into different stages until my first encounter with the term “Power Dressing”.One of my friends introduced me about it and it was during that time that I was doubly working hard on my way up the ladder. At first, it sounded intimidating to me until she finally said that actually I was already wearing exactly the said kind of corporate work-wear, based on her own assessment. I can vividly recall, it was a (slightly above the knee) black pencil rayon skirt, a fuchsia pink long sleeves blouse with a black accentuated blazer, a cultured pearl necklace and a one-inch high heeled black closed shoes, I was wearing. We were then on our way to the board room to assist our principals for a high level cabinet meeting. Confirming what my friend said, one of our male colleagues in the said meeting said to me: “You look great in there”! That I thought what she called “Power Dressing!”
So, what is power dressing? I would like to quote some definitions found on the web:
1. It is a style of clothing intended to make the person seem authoritative and competent, especially in professional settings in business, law and government.
2. It is a stylish and expensive clothing style intended to convey the impression of assertiveness and competence.
As can be gleaned from the aforementioned definitions, it appears that power dressing or PD (my newly coined acronym for it) refer to costly style of clothing predominantly worn by women belonging to the top echelons of the society (e.g. Margaret Thatcher, Hillary Clinton, etc.) or by women who in their own style have been able to exude a feeling of power and authority. These are career clothes or the so-called power suits designed by internationally renowned designers or by your local wannabe designers.
But just like my passion for fashion, PD has likewise evolved since it started in the late 70's. There are schools of thoughts from fashion gurus on what PD should be in its modern context. It seems that the PD has now turned out to be less formal and with lower maintenance compared to the conventional PD. The current power dressing is more flexible and modern and it somehow caters to all levels of workforce and as such may be good to the entire manpower complement, both male and female.
As the experts say, power dressing is all about appearing confident, capable and assertive at work.
To achieve this dressing style, the following are suggested simple tips on how to power dress in any work environment:
- Dress professionally – Regardless of your stature in the workplace (whether you are newly hired, a rank-and-file, senior staff or part of the management), you have to think of the clothes you need to wear – clothes that would reflect your personality in a positive and professional way. It doesn't have to be a designer-labeled suit, it can be a dress with a blazer on it. Another option which I used for office wear is a cardigan sweater to match with some of my sleeveles office clothes, especially during summer and not so busy days. Never wear tee shirts with jogging pants and sneakers on or with your bermuda shorts with a flat shoes. Some people can be so at ease with the management and their officemates that they do not care anymore what they wear to the office.
- Keep it versatile – Mix and match your core and prized fashion wardrobe with several colored plain shirts or printed blouses to make an impact on your personality. It also provides you multiple options or choice of clothes to wear on a daily basis. In my case, I used to have two very good suits which I normally wear for meetings outside the office. Sometimes, I would change the inner blouse depending on my mood for the day.
- Ooze that confidence – Be smart and confident. Feel good about yourself and feel comfortable of wearing your office attire whatever form it is. When you're confident on what you wear, you tend to be more confident in dealing with peers and clients.
- Keep it simple but chic and stylish – Okay, I would say black ensemble is simple but broaden your spectrum of black, black, black! I noticed that majority of the women workforce tend to wear black office attire, not only here in New York but even in the financial districts of major cities in the world. Some have tried other colors like red, navy, gray or beige but these colors appear monotonous. Lighter or pastel colors can be explored to have a fresher look. Keep in mind that color can uplift your spirit and make you more dynamic though the day! It is all right to add style to your clothes but without weakening professionalism.
- Never dress to impress – Wearing stylish clothes just so to impress your boss or someone is not within the realm of power dressing. Remember you are in the workplace, your utmost duty is to be productive, i.e., produce and deliver the needed results. You are rated according to your work performance, ability and character but not your outfit.
- Avoid flat shoes and sandals – Shoes with "chunkier" heels, maybe an inch or two can add chic and confidence to yourself. It makes you literally stand out from the rest, look taller and gives you that feeling of stability and a confident walk. One reason why I suggest wearing "plumper" shoes is that wearing high heeled stiletto shoes can be a problem to some particulary those using public transport, i.e., walking several blocks just to get to the bus stop and to the office.
- To complete your empowered woman look, you can add accessories to a minimum level coupled with a handbag that would go perfectly well with your dress and shoes.
Therefore, as long as you dress appropriately with flair, feel confident about yourself and act professionally (with hardwork and dedication), then you are set for success!
Incidentally, some of the renowned designers (Dolce and Gabana, D. Versace, Jil Sanders, etc.) who participated in the 2010 Milan Fashion Week appears to set the stage for the comeback of power dressing, this time with a twist! Hence, this blog!
Watch out Fashionistas!