Power dressing for women is about asserting themselves and projecting their inner competence. It’s very necessary to power dress to create those first and last impressions of confidence. And it doesn’t have to be difficult if you follow a few straight forward rules.
Rule 1: Simple, stylish and sleek is the way to go.
Rule 2: Choose western or Indian formals based on your personal style preference.
Rule 3: Stick to the power colors.
Rule 4: Bend Rule 3 when necessary.
As women, you are used to wearing a wide range of clothing types, colors, fabrics and accessories. But there are limits of style and line when selecting power dressing clothes and accessories for your wardrobe.
In this post, we shall discuss the general principles. the former although the general principles are relevant for the latter too.
Many believe that power dressing, in fact any corporate dressing, involves western wear. That’s not true. You can choose between western wear – trousers and skirts – or Indian wear – saris and cigarette pants. The basic rule is to keep the lines straight and the frills out. Of course, if you are attending an international conference or meeting, it would be more appropriate to wear western wear.
There will be more from our style scale on how to go about power dressing with trousers, skirts, saris and cigarette pants. The note of caution is to go for a lean, lined look with fabrics that don’t cling to you. These help you project competence. When it comes to power dressed women in western wear, Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsico and Sulajja Firodia Motwani, MD of Kinetic are names that come to mind. In case of saris, one looks to our Foreign Secretary and soon-to-be Ambassador to USA, Nirupama Rao and Country Head-India of the HSBC Group – Naina Lal Kidwai.
Choose the corporate colors of black, grey, navy blue or white for the strong message they send. To give a tinge of color to the sari, you can have a thin border with color or embroidery. The same applies to short kurtis and long kurtas too which should be worn with a straight trouser rather than the traditional pyjama. When you need to project a look of authority, collar is the ideal format. Sometimes you may need to power dress without appearing severe. On those occasions, you can use beige, coral or rust colors. With western outfits, the color recommendation remains the same. You’d do well to add color with a scarf or a stole. Again choose their color based on the occasion. Blacks, whites and grays go with a highly formal atmosphere. You can add peaches and pale blues or even a dash or red for a more approachable look.
Very light make-up that doesn’t run or show up under sun or the harsh glare of lights. A light eye-liner and a pastel shade of lipstick is all we are talking about given the harsh Indian weather. Short, well-manicured nails are necessary. Don’t forget the toe nails either. Nail polish isn’t a must, but if you want one, light shades of silver or peach are fine. Take care of your heels even though your shoes cover them. This prevents a run in your stockings and saves you from embarrassment on the rare occasions when you may have to slip your shoes off. Regular moisturizing of heels and elbows helps.
Stick to the essentials. A chain of silver or platinum with a small pendant of these same metals or diamond is ideal. If gold is to be worn, a very thin chain does it. Small to medium-sized pearls are another all time favorite. You can add a pair of ear studs and a bracelet to match. For a watch, a slim silver one or a steel watch with a leather strap will do. Choose it based on your outfit. When it comes to shoes, 1.5 to 2-inch heel is appropriate and it keeps you comfortable on a long day. Flats don’t go with power dressing, nor do high heels. Blacks are the staple. But you can go for white or brown depending on your outfit. Handbags should coordinate with the shoes, ideally both of the same color.
Natural hair color, which generally means black in India. If you have short cropped or bouncy hair, leave it open, avoid bright streaks that is for casual occasions. If you have longer hair, a French knot or chignon is ideal. At the least, pin the top layer back. A pony tail is too casual. You can leave your hair open, but we’d recommend it only if you can manage it without having to put it in place too often.
The objective is to avoid drawing attention to your dressing with jazzy colors and chunky jewellery. On the other hand, muted colors and straight lines strengthen your image as a competent woman who asserts herself whenever the need arises. Now you can focus on your business at hand with utmost confidence.