The Art of Power Dressing

Turning over a new leaf

There’s something about autumn that makes all of us here at mywalit want to shake up our tired, out-of-sync routines and get back to being our productive, motivated best selves.

For far too long we’ve been content to wait until 31st December to make soon-forgotten New Year’s resolutions. But after the overindulgence of summer (another gelato, anyone!?), there has never been a better time to turn over a new leaf.

Whether it’s the sight of supermarket shelves freshly-stocked with a kaleidoscope of back-to-school goodies, shorter days forcing us to swap cocktails for coffee or the bold autumnal colours appearing in the natural landscapes around us: Fall is the perfect time to get re-energised and refocused on our goals.


Switching Bikinis for Blazers: The Art of Power Dressing

Naturally, here at mywalit we think that the best place to start your fall overhaul is in your wardrobe.

The blissful, sun-fuelled months are over, and this means out with the bikinis and strappy dresses and in with new ‘fits that will kick-start a new season and a new you.

That’s why we deem this autumn to be all about the art of power dressing.

But hold off raiding your nearest vintage shops and hastily sewing shoulder pads into your jackets (although we don’t discourage either!). We’re talking about power dressing with a modern twist that can work for you in your everyday lifestyle.

Big in the 80s: A Brief History of Power Dressing

When you think of power dressing, the first things that come to mind are likely to be the bright colours, boxy tailoring and big shoulders that we associate with the 70s and 80s.

In Vogue’s recent piece The Evolution of The Power Shoulder, journalist Julia Hobbs celebrates the famous pioneers of the power dressing movement:

“The look caught on big time, peaking between 1984 and 1989, when Oprah, Princess Diana and Michael Jackson made accented shoulders a pop culture phenomenon.”

But its roots go back further than this. Power dressing is synonymous with personal, professional and political empowerment and has long been a tool to enable women in particular to establish their authority in traditionally male-dominated spaces.


Power Dressing in 2019

A lot of things have changed since the 1980s, predominately for the better. Today, there are more female CEOs and more women in government than ever before. Moreover, prominent businesspeople like Mary Portas have written extensively about the importance of moving away from outdated alpha culture and the benefits of women embracing their femininity in the workplace, if they should so choose.

This means that the very definition of power dressing has evolved. Nowadays, it is less about establishing a certain external image and all about boosting your inner confidence and self-belief – tools that are indispensable for helping you to achieve your goals.

So let’s break down three key scenarios where you can embrace and be inspired by the art of power dressing and make it work for your busy lifestyle.

1. The Seminar

You’re more likely to find a University student in a standard uniform of leggings and a school leavers hoody than a power suit. But students may want to think twice about throwing on that crumpled, coffee-stained t-shirt for their next 9am seminar.

According to Dr. Karen Pine, professor of psychology at the University of Hertfordshire and fashion psychologist, dressing too casually can cause someone to feel less focused and alert.

“When we put on an item of clothing it is common for the wearer to adopt the characteristics associated with that garment.

“A lot of clothing has symbolic meaning for us, whether it’s ‘professional work attire’ or ‘relaxing weekend wear’, so when we put it on we prime the brain to behave in ways consistent with that meaning.”

Clearly, Dr. Pine isn’t suggesting that students should show up to classes in stuffy, formal workwear, but it does raise a good point about the concept of ‘dressing for success’.

The easiest way to adopt this mantra is to save some of your key smart/casual pieces for lecture-going instead of lounging.

Consider investing in a blazer that can be slipped over a more casual outfit for an instant motivation boost or a smart, good-quality backpack that’ll make you feel as studious as you’ll look.


2. The Interview

You’ve got a killer CV, you’ve done your research and you’ve mentally spent the entirety of your first pay cheque. The only thing left to consider is what on earth you’ll wear to the interview!

We all know that first impressions are important, but crafting a job-worthy look is harder than it seems.

Consider taking inspiration from one of the original power dressing queens: Dynasty-era Joan Collins. Known for her exaggerated silhouettes, bright colour-blocking and affinity for accessorising, you should incorporate these elements into your interview look for a dose of Joan’s famous confidence (just not all at once!).

If you’re nervous about scaring off your future employer by looking like a head-to-toe rainbow, keep your outfit focused on neutral tones and accessorise with a statement handbag for a pop of colour and personality.


3. The Work Meeting

As more and more companies adopt casual office dress codes, studies have claimed that workplaces that allow their employees to rock up in a tracksuit are more productive as a result.

The key takeaway from these studies seems to be that comfort is king. Power dressing is not about looking perfectly-primed and professional, but feeling able to carry out your duties efficiently and comfortably.

But if you choose to dress down for the office, it might become hard to distinguish your work-self from your leisure-self.

In an interview with Forbes, Dr. Jennifer Baumgartner, psychologist and author of You are what you wear says “Changing your outfit after work is a concrete representation that you are not in work mode any more.” So even if you change out of one pair of jeans into another, you should make it clear to your brain that you’ve tuned out of work for the day, a particularly important step for freelancers and those who work from home.

There’s a case, then, to be made for treating yourself to the perfect work bag – Science says so!


Empower yourself

Whether you’re a die-hard #girlboss power suit wearer or prefer understated chic, power dressing is all about experimenting with pieces that make you feel confident, comfortable and empowered.

Don’t be afraid to incorporate splashes of colour and statement pieces into your everyday look to create the ultimate workwear uniform that works for you.

What’s your number one power dressing tip? Let us know in the comments below!