Power On

Xena-Warrior-Princess_with text

There are days we dress for fun, for work, to impress a date. But some days, we need a little extra shot of confidence, a boost to launch us out the door, and those days call for a bit of Power Dressing.

In the 1980’s there was Power Dressing™  for those whose desire was to become a corporate Master Of The Universe. The 1990’s saw the rise of Power Ties for politicians. These versions of Power Dressing were intended to shape and influence others’ perceptions of the wearer. But what I’m referring to here is personal Power Dressing: those styles, colors or pieces that give us a shot of inner strength, of psychological Fierce. These are the Superhero pieces in our closets that have talismanic powers to ward off evil eyes, arch enemies, kryptonite and Bad Hair Days.

One woman’s power dressing might mean a crisp white shirt. For another it might be color, the brighter and bolder the better.  My own Power Dressing formula might include any or all of the following:

Black. I know, I know. We’re all supposed to avoid it unless we’ve been typed as Dark Brooding Winters, or are Goths, or live in Paris. It’s supposedly aging, draining, blah blah. But I love black. I love how I feel in it. Black is cool, solid, strong, powerful. It might be just a pair of black heels, or it might be head to toe, but it always fortifies my spirit and I’ll never give it up. It’s my sartorial drug of choice.

Boots. I’ve recently joked that “boots are my Totem Animal.” I’ve never felt wrong in boots. I stand straighter, walk with more confidence. I have boots in all styles from dressy to biker, and wear them in all but the warmest weather.

Bold.  A piece or two of bold jewelry, whether a man-sized watch, a leather cuff, an oversized rhinestone necklace or hammered gold hoop earrings all dial up the Power factor for me. They can be an excellent way to add a power boost to outfits when circumstances require conservative or otherwise uniform clothing.

Movement. For some, tailored and structured pieces make them feel powerful. At times I find that’s the case, but often having at least one piece in an outfit that moves when I do taps into a more feminine kind of energy. Remember that feeling of twirling in a full skirt? For me, that flow and movement puts me in touch with the strength of nature…leaves dancing in the wind, the river that carves the canyon, a swirl of clouds at sunset.

Leopard. Well, it’s a bit obvious, isn’t it?  That’s why I feel most comfortable with just one leopard piece at a time, lest I come off as predatory. Leopard print shoes or boots are a great way to add just a touch of “I’m in charge here” to an outfit.

What’s your Power Dressing formula? Has it changed over time?

Top image: via.


Already Pretty contributor Une Femme is fifty-six, married to the same wonderful monsieur since 1995, the mother of a special-needs teenager and two hooligan dogs, a full-time administrative professional, a coffee-holic, Paris-obsessed, native Californian, and a petite and curvy femme d’un certain age. She believes that personal style is an essential form of self-expression, and started her blog, Une femme d’un certain âge, in 2007 hoping to start a conversation about style for women over 50.

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22 Responses to “Power On”

  1. Raquel CP

    I think I had several pieces through the years but lately I think it’s a red leather pair of shoes.

  2. AnaJan

    Bold colors and contrasting combos, anything that doesn’t blend in would be my power dressing.

  3. Weesha

    Blazers and statement necklaces, and definitely colour. I feel like a fashion powerhouse when I have all 3 in an outfit!

  4. Roz

    I look forward to reading your blog in the mornings. I started working again after a 12 year hiatus and turn to your blog for inspiration and smiles.

  5. Eleanorjane

    Red! Bright primary coloured blue-red is my power colour – I don’t have enough of it in my wardrobe at the moment… I’m keeping an eye out.

    In a work context, a jacket or blazer makes me feel authoritive. At play, a little leather jacket makes me feel cool.

    Heels are always nice, but not always practical.

    Definitely a full face of make up and some good hair (and other grooming i.e. waxed legs, done nails etc).

    A smart handbag.

  6. Ericka

    My power items include

    -prints. They never fail to give me a positive can do attitude (or help me fake it really well)
    -great shoes, especially my Fluevogs and my boots
    -silhouettes that make me feel confident that highlight my curvy figure well. Belts are awesome.
    -color, always.

  7. Coleen

    Heels. Of any height. At 6’1″, wearing heels is essentially a form of social disobedience. It never fails to amaze me how much ingrained ideas of what a woman “should” look like or how tall she “should” be come out when I strap a pair of heels onto my feet.

    I also wear jewelry that I’ve collected from around the world as talismans. Often the pieces are not large or overstated, but they remind me of who I am and where I’ve been.

  8. poodletail

    Black, white, gray, and navy are my power colors. Prints and bright colors sap my energy. I love to *see* color but don’t like to wear it. Maybe my power comes from being inconspicuous? Food for thought.

    I feel most powerful when I lace up my running shoes and slather on my SPF50. At that moment I don’t care what’s the number on the scale or if my skin is flaky that day. I am powerful.

    • Lindsey

      I totally agree about not seeking power in bright colors and prints!

      I try really hard not to but sometimes I get so caught up thinking about how others will judge me based on my wardrobe choices. I work in a very casual, male-dominated environment where I don’t feel comfortable wearing make-up or super feminine clothes, which is where some of the judging preoccupation comes from. Most of the time I’m very grateful I don’t have pressure to dress up but sometimes, it’s oppressive.

      On days when I want to rock it, I’ll wear heals and click-click-click all the way down our usually silent halls and relish it! Maxi skirts also give me that feeling sometimes too.

      • Brigitte Marie

        I agree with neutrals feeling more powerful. I feel like the focus is more on my presence and what I have to say than on what I’m wearing. I can’t imagine wearing a pastel blazer over a flowery dress to a big presentation. But it’s because I work in a male dominated work space that I do wear make up, so I’m surprised you say you wouldn’t wear it for the same reason.

  9. Eliza

    I agree with Colleen about the effect of heels when you are already tall. I also find that clothing with a lot of volume -full skirts, a big coat, etc- tend to make me feel like I’m defying the notion that women should take up as little space as possible. I know that heels and full skirts are seen as very feminine pieces of clothing, but in many ways, I feel like I’m rebelling from the socially sanctioned image of femininity most when I wear these things. It’s a feeling that I’m larger than life, and instead of trying to shrink myself back down to scale, I’m emphasizing it. I call this my “Amazon” mood.

  10. hendel d'bu

    black, black, black.
    Blame it on my residence in the Pacific Northwest, if you must, but black is my go-to power color.

    Love the blog – just discovered it and am really enjoying it!

  11. Anne

    Dresses: I would never have named them as a power item a few years ago but they are now. Dresses draw attention to all the work I do to keep my body from falling apart. They show off the slim waist and toned arms from yoga and paddling and the legs defined from running. When I pair them with a great pair of shoes and a belt I feel like I am telling the world that I am feminine and stylish and that I am more than capable of kicking your ass if you provoke me.

  12. Madame Là-bas

    Dark brown or aubergine are my power colours. Really good shoes from Spain make me feel firmly planted on the ground. A strong piece of jewellery, especially selected makes me feel confident. I used to like a structured jacket for authority but now I am retired and more amply endowed, draping is better.

  13. prettypink

    Hot pink (yeah !) and blood red are my power colors. A good pair of sturdy, comfortable heels always make me feel rooted and are almost a necessity at my 4, 11′ frame. Well structured blazers with dresses make me feel classy. Since I am really petite, I keep the jewellery small and beautiful- Chloe +Isabel style. A french manicure is perfect to make me feel queen- like 🙂

  14. Laurel H

    Heels, lipstick, and a blazer. I’m 5’8″, so not as tall as Colleen, but I love towering over other people, especially men.

  15. Claire

    “man-sized watch” – hehehe, that’s a big watch. 🙂

    these days, it’s black, grey, green, pants, spunky earrings & scarves, shoes i can walk in (ie, New Balance athletic shoes) w/ socks. boots if i could!

  16. Cassandra

    Love this post! I am on board with most of your list. For me, power dressing usually involves some amount of black, usually pants, a pair of killer heels, and some amount of androgyny (love a masculine/feminine, hard/soft mixture). I also like to mix in some metal somewhere.

    It’s a look that makes me feel a little edgy, very sexy, and kind of ferocious – super confident and powerful! Isn’t it amazing how much emotion clothing can evoke within us or bring out to the show the world?


  17. Patricia

    My ideal “power outfit” is something like I wore to my college auditions– an experience (as any music major can tell you) where you DEFINITELY need to feel as “superpowered” as possible. I had a navy polka-dot dress (conservative hemline and neckline, but still a little curve-hugging), charcoal grey tights, a cardigan of some sort (either a bright color or my favorite dark-grey one), the insanely comfortable black-brown leather knee-highs I’ve dubbed my “adventure boots”, my grandmother’s (totally fake) pearls, and my sunset orange peacoat and gray/olive/black brocade scarf for outerwear. It hit all the talismans I usually reach for: mostly earth tones with a few bright colors (I’m usually a colors girl but earth tones are like comfort food to me, especially in the winter), a reliable take on my winter “uniform” (dress, tights, cardigan, boots), my very favorite print, comfortable and easy to move in while still looking polished, and a few nostalgic talismans (both the pearls and the scarf are “pieces with story”… well, I guess they all are now since I survived audition season in them!). I swear I felt more confident going into those auditions in that outfit than I could’ve ever imagined– definitely the power of clothes at work.

  18. Thursday

    A pencil skirt, and the colour red. Even if it’s just my knickers! A pair of shiny red wedges also helps.
    I also feel an extra boost when wearing a piece of jewellery I picked up in my overseas travels. When I’m sitting in a meeting with people who want to make my life difficult, it helps to remember how far I have gone and how much I have achieved on my own!

  19. Sarah

    6ft tall heel wearer here ( and big fan of the colour red). When I am asked why I wear such high heels, I say why be less of what you are? Be more! I’m never going to be short by wearing flats, why not celebrate what I am. The few times I have worn flats to work, people have assumed I had the day off.