The seven rules of power dressing

Power dressing can be defined as “the practice of dressing in a style intended to show that one holds an important position in business, politics, etc.”

A recent exhibition at the London Design Museum called Women Fashion Power saw famous faces such as Diana Princess of Wales, Naomi Campbell and Margaret Thatcher celebrated as masters of power dressing.

But it’s not just politicians and models that need to dress to impress, branding is becoming a powerful weapon, essential to those who want to make an impact and be taken seriously. Here are seven top tips to help you avoid common power dressing faux pas.


1. Don’t go macho

Contrary to what some people seem to believe, power dressing is not about disguising yourself as a man. The androgynous look and power dressing are very separate concepts. A good rule of thumb is aiming to look like you have the job roughly two steps above your current position, not like your dad.

2. Make small adjustments over time

When we try to make one big change, we can be left feeling uncomfortable and not knowing who we are. Smaller changes are easier to get used to and become part of your routine.

3. Wear whatever makes you feel powerful…

…whether it’s bright pink or bell bottoms. There is no set look for power dressing, don’t feel obliged to wear a pink suit with shoulder pads – when you put that outfit on in the morning you should feel as though you can conquer the world.

Power dressing collage

4. Take inspiration from others

As well as the classic 80s looks, I take updated inspiration from the Levo League‘s My Power Outfit series that comes straight to my inbox, my Work It board on Pinterest and sometimes I find some power dressing looks and generally gorgeous outfits via the #Bims10Things hashtag curated by journalist Bim Adewunmi.

5. Have an answer ready for the haters

People will ask you why you’ve changed your look, wanting to find out whether you’ve got a new job or come into some money – don’t crumble – have something ready to say. Good examples are; “Oh thank you, I’m trying something new,” “I went shopping at the weekend,” or “I’m surprised you noticed.”

Alicia Florrick gif

6. Find your ‘power item’

Whether its a pair of bright red heels, some gold hoops or even shoulder pads – identify an item that instantly makes you feel completely in control (mine is my purple graduation dress.)

7. Share your power dressing OOTD!

Don’t keep all that powerful goodness to yourself, share you power ‘outfit of the day’ by tweeting me @PhoebeParke or adding the links in the comments section below.

Further reading:

Power dressing is back – but banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads – The Independent

The New Power Dressing –

13 Women Who’ve Redefined Power Dressing –

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