Power dressing has long been synonymous with the shoulder pads, blue eyeshadow, and trouser suits of the Eighties. Princess Diana and Margaret Thatcher were staunch advocates of the trend, continued to this day by the likes of Michelle Obama a modern-day follower. Power dressing has been encapsulated on film numerous times by the likes of Meryl Streep playing the character of Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada, the terrifying boss of a major publication in New York.
Although we may have a little giggle today at the bold and often garish looks of that era, the message behind it is an important one. It was a time when women were beginning to break free from the shackles of the patriarchy, moving away from their traditional, restrictive roles as housewives and nurturers, and emerging into the professional and political workplaces. The idea was to repackage menswear and make it wearable for women in an attempt to bring about equality by asserting authority in a world traditionally dictated to and ruled by men.
They would have met with fierce resistance from men scared at the prospect of losing their position of power, so the clothing would’ve been an essential tool in reinforcing their intent. Women were quite literally wearing the trousers and showing the world who was boss. Shoulder pads were inserted to physically boost their size to show that women were not the diminutive, feeble creatures they were previously thought to be and chests were covered to mask any hint of the female form.
These days, power dressing has come a long way and encompasses many aesthetics. Today power dressing is about acknowledging and celebrating the female form, rather than trying to masquerade it. It’s about dressing in a way that boosts your self-confidence from the inside out. Wearing clothes that fit correctly, accentuate in all the right places, and express your personality are integral aspects of modern-day power dressing. How can we feel at our strongest and most confident if our clothes are ill-fitting or fail to represent externally what we feel internally? Power dressing is no longer confined to the workplace, its popularity and adaptability to all situations mean that you will commonly see women running errands, shopping, meeting friends, or out for dinner wearing garments that hint towards power dressing – even if unintentionally!
The sharp, sleek lines of tailored shirts, trousers, and blazers. Brogues, trench coats, and belted dresses. Pencil skirts, pinstripes, and trouser suits. These are all major features of the style and if you want to get on board and assert your inner strength then here are a few wardrobe-essentials.