Fashion 101: The Art and Rule of Power Dressing

“Unlike art, the consumption of fashion is not based primarily on knowledge or education, but functions through visual awareness, a type of sensuality and perception of the corporeal self.” –Valerie Steele

It has been said that there is a subtle art involved in power dressing. In fact, there is something admirable about individuals who have an excellent command over their clothes and who can look effortlessly in-control—a skill which not everyone possesses. In something as nondescript like choosing what we wear, we are unconsciously selecting for the appropriate apparel that represents us best. Though a lot of individuals would rather forego the entire painstaking process of selecting the best ensemble, they might want to rethink this if they are banking towards a promotion or might be aiming for a higher position. After all, power dressing is your greatest combat gear in your trip to the top—at least according to Valerie Steele. It might go unnoticed, but there is a subtle power in clothes in such a way that how you wear them would make someone take you seriously.

Though something as uninteresting as choosing what you wear should be unruffled, how you represent yourself to your colleagues, to your superiors and others should be deliberate. And there lies the unmistakable influence of a polished set of clothes. However, just like in any area of dressing up, power dressing has its set of rules, and if you want your clothes to convey the right message, then it is best if you had an awareness of what these rules are.


A Burberry scarf, wholesale Steve Madden shoes, a coat from Versace plus a pair of sunglasses on Chanel—all these in one ensemble might be a little too much. You want to make an impression without appearing flashy; you want to look sophisticated but not high-maintenance Dressing yourself from head to toe in designer labels screams for attention and not the right kind. Additionally, it can get a tad bit too tacky if you armed yourself to the teeth with all kinds of designer ornaments. Remember that when it comes to power dressing, you should not let the clothes define you and when you garb yourself in gaudy designer items, you would not be taken seriously. They will remember what you wear that is for sure, but they would rarely remember the person behind the Balenciaga outfit.


It is great to have an updated and polished look. Most fashion forward individuals would want to appear at the moment and current, but it is a mistake to always follow trends. Power dressing is all about setting yourself apart and standing out from the crowd. Your look should not only be sophisticated and refined, but it should convey an image of freshness and effortlessness. In a way, it should not look too deliberate that you would look like you spent a considerable amount of time in trying to find the best outfit. Trends, for the most part, are okay, so long as they are done tastefully. Just like designer brands, apply them minimally and do not dress yourself entirely in trends.


Even nice and expensive clothes date and date. If there is an imperative quality to your clothes and a must when it comes to power dressing, it is that your clothes should be groomed and kept. Should certain attachments such as buttons are missing, make sure they are remedied right away and if a specific garment is starting to wear thin, then it might be time to change it. Your clothing has a lot to do with your professional image and people surrounding you will inevitably associate it with your work ethic and your state of mind. Pay extra attention to the state of your garments and know when they are starting to look shabby and worn, as it might mean you would need to update your wardrobe.


You, and not your ensemble, should be first and foremost be clean. But as an extension of yourself, your clothes should always appear fresh and clean. Your crisp white polo button-down blouse should be free of coffee stains and yellow underarm stains, your black skirt and matching blazer should be washed and pressed. Sometimes, it is not much of what you are wearing, but how you are wearing them. Remember that unkempt clothing and appearance would also suggest laziness and sloppiness—two characteristics your colleagues and your superiors would not want in an employee. Bear in mind that a clean body image will ultimately translate to a fresh and clean professional image. If this is how you want to be perceived, then make a conscious effort to appear so.


Like all other aspects of fashion, you should be true to yourself—and power dressing is no exception. People do not only differ in appearance but personalities as well. It is because of this that they form a particular affinity towards an outfit while some do not. However, you piece an outfit together depends on what you favor and what you cannot stand. This can be achieved even if you are power dressing. Regardless of whether you are trying to look classy and sophisticated or casual and relaxed, the key thing you should remember is not to try but just do. You do not have to be overly stuffy if you want a look that looks low-maintenance. Let your personal style shine through even when your power dressing and make whatever you are wearing work for you.


Power dressing may seem like a complicated business to individuals who would rather want an unruffled process when it comes to dressing themselves. But remember when it comes to representing yourself, you cannot underestimate the power of an excellent ensemble and besides, there are ways of making sure that the way you dress still retains your personal style—even if you are power dressing.


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