Ah, the power outfit. Did it begin with the suit of armor that Joan of Arc so bravely, and rather unflatteringly, wore to do battle in the 1400’s, or was it the traditional business suit, immortalized by Coco Chanel and the suffragettes of the 1920’s? Or perhaps it was the famous red bathing suit worn by Farrah Fawcett on her 1976 pinup poster, or the shoulder pads and white sneakers worn by Melanie Griffith in her 1990’s portrayal of business woman Tess McGill.
Whatever the interpretation, it is undeniable that behind every good woman there must be a good power outfit. Let’s look at what you should be considering when you choose yours.
International Standard Business Attire
Sometimes, the professional world calls for a strictly professional look. Standard business attire generally refers to tailored dresses and skirts paired with blouses and jackets. When in doubt, this dress code is always safest.
Business casual is a little more open to interpretation. For some companies, Capri pants may be fine in the office, but they may not send the right message for certain business meetings. Here are some tips for sending the right messages.
Clothing always looks more polished when its been properly tailored. That means investing in a few interchangeable high quality pieces, as opposed to a lot of poor quality outfits.
Patterns and Colors
Conservative colors are standard business attire for man and women alike. Dark grey and navy are powerful neutrals, and women can also wear black, provided the clothing is professional. (No LBDs, ladies).
Avoid Extreme Colors and Patterns
Although your polka dot dress may be the height of fashion, it may not impress business executives. You need to appear solid and so does your clothing. If patterns are your thing, choose plaids that appear solid from a distance and avoid wide stripes that make a bold statement.
Pants and Suits
When it comes to pants, think Marlene Deitrich in the tailored pantsuit of the 1930’s, with a crease. Twill, khaki and corduroy will make a good impression, as will suits made from wool and wool blends, but try to avoid denim and heavy cotton, which tend to give a less professional appearance. Also, avoid synthetic fabrics like rayon and polyester that tend to wrinkle. Pants should be pressed and hems should cover the ankle, but not drape to the floor. Tight pants are also a business no no.
Skirts and Dresses
When it comes to dresses, the most important criteria is length. If you see too much thigh when you sit in a chair, the skirt is too short. If the skirt features a slit, it should be centered and in the back and should not rise above the back of the knee. Skirts should not impede mobility and, if you cannot walk comfortably in it, you probably don’t want to wear it to a business meeting.
Sweater and Shirts
Cleavage is a big no no for business. Go for a tailored blouse which coordinates with your outfit and avoid see- through materials.
Bras and panties should not show through clothing. if your panty line shows, consider wearing something looser, or adding a slip.
The classic woman’s business shoe has been, and still is, a closed toe pump. Avoid stilettos. clunky heels, and flats. Do not sacrifice comfort, as it is important to walk confidently. Shoe color should match your purse.
How do you dress for power? Let us know what you wore to your most successful meetings! We want to know!