Want to feel more confident? (Picture: Getty)
Working from home advice is over, so as many of us return to the office, it’s a good time to try power dressing.
It’s the idea that wearing ‘powerful’ clothing makes you in turn feel more in control confident.
Studies have long proven that what we wear affects how we behave, so with that knowledge we can dress to our advantage.
Behavioural psychologist, Professor Carolyn Mair PhD, author of The Psychology of Fashion, tells Metro.co.uk: ‘The concept of power dressing has existed since people started wearing clothes, but it came to fashion in the 1920s with the LBD by Chanel.
‘Since then, it’s been interpreted in many ways, and became known as power dressing in the 1970s. In the 80s, power dressing became a style for women breaking into the world traditionally occupied by of businessmen.
‘The look was tailored jackets, shoulder pads, fitted waists and knee-length skirts.
‘However, more recently, power dressing has come to mean something different. It now refers to dressing in a way that makes the individual wearer feel powerful.
‘It is now no longer a single style, rather it depends on the wearer’s own beliefs and expectations that shape their preferences.’
What does power dressing look like? That’s up to you (Picture: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images)
Why does power dressing work?
By believing we can power dress, we’re creating an expectation from our clothing that psychologically can work in our favour.
Carolyn says: ‘When we hold strong beliefs, they become part of our identity. So when we hold strong beliefs about an outfit, for example, that it can make us feel more confident, more sexy or more powerful, then these beliefs can facilitate the outcome.
‘In addition, recent research has shown that expectations shape behaviour. This is not surprising when you think about it.
‘If we expect a positive outcome, we are more likely to be open to opportunities that facilitate a positive outcome. Our interactions are more positive, and this forms an upward spiral of positivity.’
Trust your gut (Picture: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images)
How can you power dress?
What counts as power dressing varies person to person, as it depends on their individual beliefs and tastes.
Carolyn explains: ‘If feeling powerful is important when you go back to work, then choose an outfit you feel comfortable and confident in. Confidence is hugely powerful.
‘I would advise anyone to consider what beliefs they have about a particular outfit. Why would they choose this over something else? How does it make them feel?
‘Once they’ve answered this, I would suggest they set their expectations too. Expecting a positive (powerful in this case) experience, can really make us more open to opportunities that will make positive things happen.’
There are some obvious places to start, like suits and the colour red, both of which can have power connotations.
Power dressing can have a real impact on your mood (Picture: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images)
‘The colour red is exciting biologically. Anger makes us red in the face, and when we’re embarrassed, we blush,’ Carolyn says.
‘Red has many sociocultural connotations including sexiness, romance, love and passion (as well as danger and blood).
‘Men tend to find women more attractive and sexually desirable when they wear red, as opposed to other colours, and men approach women faster when they’re wearing red lipstick as opposed to other colours.
‘Being considered attractive and sexy can be interpreted as being powerful. In sport, teams wearing red tend to win more than those wearing other colours.
‘Of course, we can feel powerful in other colours. It depends on our beliefs and expectations. Personally, I feel most powerful in black.’
What to wear when power dressing
Karine Laudort, a fashion trend commentator, says: ‘Power dressing displays authority and competence, especially in professional or business setting, this can be expressed in many ways, besides wearing a suit.
Here are some tips to achieve this look:
- Avoid showing skin (to a certain degree – unless it makes you feel powerful)
- Structured garments: Go for shoulder pads or wide shoulders for dresses or jackets, high necklines such as polo neck or turtle neck jumpers, and upgrade cardigans to blazers
- Bold and sharp colours: They’re great for statements and you can try colour blocking (pairing of 2 or 3 totally different colours together to make a bold statement). Ideal colours to power dress: Black, White, Grey, Red. They also go very well with more pastel neutral colours if you are trying to soften your look whilst remaining formal.
- Fitted clothes: Slim fit shirts and tops, fitted trousers like cigarettes pants, and fitted skirts like pencil skirts.
- Accessories: Statement watches, chokers (rather than necklaces), high leather boots, thins leather belts with distinct boucle’s, fine jewellery rather than chunky, pointed shoes.
Wear what makes you feel good (Picture: Getty)
Ready to power dress? These are some of our favourite items to shop.
Ted Baker Double Breasted Blazer
Dress up (Picture: Ted Baker)
A bold colour can feel powerful.
H&M Oversized Cotton Shirt
Go classic (Picture: H&M)
You can’t go more classic than a crisp white shirt.
Asos Pleated Chevron Midi Dress
Signal you’re ready to go in green (Picture: Asos)
Take up space with this flowy number.
Jigsaw Paris Seam Detail Jacket
Dress to impress (Picture: Jigsaw)
If ultra smart and subtle works best for you, try this navy suit in typical tailoring.
Mango Tailored Trousers
Stand out (Picture: Asos)
Red is a colour that can make us feel powerful.
Karen Millen Lydia Millen Pleat Blouse
Go for a fitted waistline (Picture: Karen Millen)
Make a statement with full puffy sleeves and a peplum waist.
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