Power Dressing

I’m not talking about Corner Office Suits™ (necessarily) or even Wonder Woman’s cuffs. It might not be your prettiest dress, or even that outfit that flatters you like crazy and always garners compliments. But when you slip it on, you know instantly: You Freaking Rule The World. That clothing which channels and expresses the strongest, most confident and *truest*, “world-is-my-oyster-don’t-rain-on-my-parade” part of you is what I’m talking about.

Metscan posted earlier this week about a new pair of boots, and when she said “the minute I pulled them on, I felt like giving the whole world a kick!” I recognized that feeling in a heartbeat. 


Boots are one of my “power” items. On one of the last days of the Nordstrom anniversary sale, I picked up these Paul Green boots in graphite (and crossed off my list an item I’ve been looking for forEVer – grey ankle boots).

(I must give props to Karen, who brought to my attention.)


Clothing that *moves* is also high on my list of power pieces, which is one of the reasons why I love Eileen Fisher. I knew this sweater was Just Right the minute I slipped it on.


And jeans of course. When I’m wearing jeans, I feel ready for anything.


Taking advantage of some cooler weather this week, I wore the boots, the sweater, my favorite jeans, and my Hermès cuff, and felt like Superwoman all day long. (A mix of feminine and masculine elements also is part of that powerful alchemy pour moi.)


Power clothing puts a spring in our step and a take-no-prisoners gleam in our eye. It’s an antidote to a lousy week (or month, or year) and a talisman when we need an extra bit of strength and resolve. We all should have a few of those items in our repertoire. And we should wear them more often!  


What are your elements of Power Dressing?  Do you wear them as often as you’d like?
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39 Comments

  1. August 11, 2011 / 11:58 am

    Oh it’s the black dress I’m wearing in my post today, it’s ten years old as are my shoes, but I just feel on top of the world in it.
    I don’t dress up very often now, just one e month but I’m quite happy slouching around the rest of the time.

  2. August 11, 2011 / 11:58 am

    Oh it’s the black dress I’m wearing in my post today, it’s ten years old as are my shoes, but I just feel on top of the world in it.
    I don’t dress up very often now, just one e month but I’m quite happy slouching around the rest of the time.

  3. August 11, 2011 / 1:39 pm

    Oh definitely jeans worn with Chelsea boots and a masculine jacket. And my Burberry trench always seems to bring out that ‘don’t mess with me’ feeling.

  4. August 11, 2011 / 2:10 pm

    I love that feeling too. It’s mostly in the cooler weather, when I can wear my boots and best jeans, with a cool blazer. I also have a black vintage 1950’s dress that gives me superpowers : >

  5. August 11, 2011 / 2:35 pm

    My Costume National “New West” black leather boots are my “kick-ass” boots – when I wear them, I feel like I’m top of the world. But I don’t have many opportunities to wear them. For everyday, it’s my Theory suit in black super fine wool.

  6. August 11, 2011 / 2:37 pm

    They are getting a bit old and worse for wear, and I don’t wear them often now, but I have a pair of black tall boots with high chunky heels that always made me feel powerful (and three inches taller). That would make me 5’10”, exactly where I would like to be all the time!

    By the way, Eileen Fisher is opening a shop at Northpark in Dallas. I think it is opening this fall and I am excited about it. I have high hopes that the employees there will now how to style the pieces and will have the full line.

  7. August 11, 2011 / 4:18 pm

    I do not have the feeling of power with clothing.

    Confidence yes and it would be one of my LBD’s or one of my crisp white shirts with masses of pearls laid on.

    Possibly my career choice is a factor…
    working in a school library one really is there to serve and inspire in a humble and gentle manner.

    If I felt power I don’t know what i would choose to wear!

  8. coffeeaddict
    August 11, 2011 / 11:40 am

    I think today’s post is tremendously brave and empowering. As women, even as girls we are taught that the feelings you describe are nothing but pride and unhealthy obsessing about our appearance. In other words all sorts of wrong. We must look pretty and dainty and lady like and maintain a false modesty about it at all times.

  9. RoseAG
    August 11, 2011 / 12:56 pm

    Powerful is subjective.

    I feel powerful in skirts and heels. The boots wouldn’t do it for me. The weathered toe, wrinkled instep and chunky heel make me think outdoorsy.

    For me that’s powerful in a personal/physical sense, not in a Queen of England/Devil Wears Prada mode.

  10. LuxeBytes
    August 11, 2011 / 1:15 pm

    Knee-high Doc Marten boots.

    Black.

  11. ida
    August 11, 2011 / 1:42 pm

    I do not get much chance to ‘power dress’ so yesterday on a trip to the town (big event for a gal who lives in the sticks) having a chance to wear my Chanel flats & swinging my jumbo gold chained Chanel bag I felt tres chic! Ida

  12. fashion and frank
    August 11, 2011 / 1:59 pm

    I so know that feeling and love it – and you know what it is not necessarily one item that gives me it – it is just sometimes it comes together and you feel on top of the world – love the boots btw x

    http://fashionandfrank.blogspot.com/

  13. Couture Allure Vintage Fashion
    August 11, 2011 / 2:09 pm

    A well fitting jacket does it for me. It used to be spike heels, but I can’t wear them anymore!

  14. August 11, 2011 / 9:13 pm

    Hey, kindred spirits! I bought those boots too, and half my wardrobe is Eileen Fisher. ( Could be that’s why I enjoy your blog) I love heeled boots I can stride (strut) in; very empowering and still feminine.

  15. August 11, 2011 / 9:16 pm

    ankle boots (black combat type Jeffrey Campbell ones are my faves) with well fitting jeans-t-shirt and leather jacket. Sheesh…I sound like the Fonz…

  16. August 11, 2011 / 9:34 pm

    My ultimate power dressing is when I’m in my motorcycle clothing – and on the bike. Boots of course, kelvar lined jeans and jacket, leather gloves and the helmet with a full visor, so I am a mystery.

    Trouble is you can’t walk around comfortably in an outfit like this, so it has limited application!!

  17. Pam @ over50feeling40
    August 11, 2011 / 3:18 pm

    I love this! When I write about dressing to communicate strength..this is what I am talking about…but now I know to say GIVING THE WORLD A KICK! I have many items that I feel powerful in and yes..a great pair of jeans would be one!! This is a conversation that I personally believe it important to keep going from time to time…it is good for all ages.

  18. August 11, 2011 / 10:38 pm

    My red lipstick is my most important power element!

  19. Susan Tiner
    August 11, 2011 / 4:30 pm

    Definitely jeans, and I think also converse all stars. I have been meaning to order some. Yes, a black tee, jacket or cardigan, one of my hand made scarves, jeans and converse all stars. Fun earrings. Watch out!

  20. August 11, 2011 / 11:31 pm

    I like your booties! Lately, for me, I’ve been feeling particularly confident when I wear my black side zip slim pants (no muffin top, just the right amount of stretch) and my sheer-ish black and beige print blouse over a black cami. I think it looks snazzy, but the main reason I like it is because I feel chic AND comfortable when I wear it!

  21. August 11, 2011 / 11:38 pm

    Love the comments! You know for me it is some sort of animal print piece that is my talisman. I feel really confident in my J.Crew matchstick jeans and a heel. When I am physically elevated like that I feel psychologically bouyed also. And colorful pieces. Color gives me true JOY.

  22. August 11, 2011 / 11:53 pm

    One other thing that makes me feel powerful is my dyed eyebrows. Normally, they are blond and don’t show up unless I use eyebrow pencil. When they are dyed, and show up on their own (even when I first awaked in the morning), I feel powerful.

  23. Debbie
    August 11, 2011 / 4:58 pm

    A bright colored blouse, a great pair of black slacks and black heeled lace up “shooties”…they make me tall and long. I love striding down the hallways at work dressed this way.

  24. metscan
    August 11, 2011 / 4:59 pm

    Your new boots are definitely kickers. Great! And I can really relate to your feeling wearing those boots and favorite jeans!
    I´d like to add my long down coat into my list of favorite clothes. When I have it on, I feel safe, secure and comfortable.
    A great bag belongs to my favorites too. I prefer larger bags, and change them as seasons change.
    Thank you for a refreshing post!

  25. August 12, 2011 / 12:30 am

    Gotta be a jacket (no matter what it is made of…denim, tweed, whatever (I’ve never had a leather jacket like this but if I did, I think it would have the same effect) which is a)about 8-10″ shorter than my knees, b)shaped with either seams or darts so that I look as if I have a waist, and c) equipped with shoulder pads. Solid shoulder pads. Maybe not the sort that we used to wear in the late 80s or early 90s but something that says, “Yep – them’s shoulders all right.” That sort of jacket always makes me feel several inches taller, way cool, competent, kick ass, and noticed. And when you are as short as I am, that’s major.

  26. August 12, 2011 / 12:35 am

    Heels. As high as I can wear them. Thanks for provoking some thought!

  27. August 12, 2011 / 1:27 am

    coffeeaddict – I’ll admit it surprises me a bit to hear that young women still feel those pressures to be modest, dainty and ladylike. It’s pernicious, isn’t it?

    Tabitha – that dress is killer and you look smashing in it!

    RoseAG – it’s true, “powerful” is very subjective!

    LuxeBytes – oh my yes.

    That’s Not My Age – yes, a trench has lots of powerful connotations.

    ida – chic can be powerful too!

  28. August 12, 2011 / 1:31 am

    fashion and frank – that’s a great point about it sometimes being about the combination of items. And sometimes it happens quite by accident.

    Couture Allure – jacket is a good one. I think that’s true for a lot of us re: the heels!

    Patti – your vintage dress sounds great! Would love to see it.

    Louise – both sound like great options!

    Susan – what is it about boots? They are sometimes so right. Glad to hear about the EF! Hope they are well-stocked.

  29. August 12, 2011 / 1:39 am

    Pam – yes, it’s good to stay in touch with that feeling. I would think as a teacher it’s very important for you to feel strong and in charge.

    hostess – well, confidence is important too. And feeling strong.

    Susan Tiner – I love my Converse too! It’s hard to go wrong with jeans.

    Debbie – that sounds fantastic. I’m a big fan of “shooties” too.

    metscan – thank you! Your long down coat is an excellent piece for your climate and life.

    Cherry – indeed we must be! I love stacked heel boots too.

  30. August 12, 2011 / 1:44 am

    melissadecarlo – your outfit sounds cool, but not like The Fonz at all!

    Northmoon – and I’ll bet riding the bike is a powerful feeling too!

    WendyB – I would’ve guessed that red lipstick would be near or at the top of your list!

    LunaStitches – thank you! The outfit you describe sounds very cool and chic.

    kbfenner – finding just the right black pants is SO satisfying, isn’t it? Love the image of the slim pants and black sneakers…

  31. August 12, 2011 / 1:55 am

    karen – oh yes, the animal print is definitely your style signature. I think you have an interesting point about the heels and feeling elevated.

    Susan – that’s interesting about your eyebrows! I think maybe anything that gives our face more definition (brows, red lipstick) feels more bold and powerful.

    Toby Wollin – you really know what works for you! That sounds like it would be a good and powerful style on almost anyone. Are you able to find jackets like that or do you have them made?

    fashionoverfifty – another vote for heels! I like them too, but am more limited these days in how high I can go.

  32. August 12, 2011 / 3:38 am

    I love that sweater! I need to try it on. Thank you for you blog, I enjoy it so much.

  33. kbfenner
    August 11, 2011 / 11:38 pm

    A perfectly fitted blazer, silk scarf and my new favorite Talbot’s black thick microfiber pants with slim-ish straight legs, and a pair of Ecco black fashion sneakers….

  34. Terri
    August 12, 2011 / 3:50 am

    It’s curious to me that what feels ‘powerful’ has changed over time. I think most recently that reclaiming some more feminine qualities has been interesting…and perhaps, empowering.

  35. August 12, 2011 / 1:37 pm

    As you might imagine, hats help me feel empowered. I can change the feel of the day with just the right headwear. And those boots are killer!

  36. August 12, 2011 / 2:03 pm

    This summer, it’s been my new (dark) raw denim jeans, straight/slim utilitarian cut, turned cuffs, with a white v-neck T and a good black jacket (Smythe). I feel impervious and happy both!
    A great dress with good boots or a mod. high-heeled pump can do it as well.
    And my stomp-worthy Fiorentini&Baker cavalry-type boots.
    Fun post and I love the conversation.

  37. Tiffany
    August 12, 2011 / 7:04 am

    Boots and jeans also for me, plus my long dark red leather coat. I once had a student tell me I look like Trinity from The Matrix in it – and I feel like her too! Occasionally a dress and heels will also make me feel like I could rule the universe …

  38. Frugal Scholar
    August 12, 2011 / 2:01 pm

    Wonderful boots and a belated happy birthday to your little (not so little) guy.

    Strangely, I don’t mind spending a lot on boots and will have to try this brand when I am near a Nordstroms.

  39. September 4, 2011 / 2:28 am

    I love this post! You put in words so elegantly what I feel dressing and even power-dressing is all about. It is how you feel wearing the clothes, when you know they are right for YOU, the you you feel and want to project. It has nothing to do with pretty and demure, or feminine or dressing for success or conventional ideas of style or beauty. You sound powerfully confident when you describe your outfit and how it makes you feel.

    For me it is often a combination of elements, often including something traditional with something not-so traditional, but it could be a plain dress and killer pumps. So I guess I would have to go for the combination of pieces. In the fall and winter it is often boots and jeans for me, with a fabulous sweater or jacket.

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