by Samuel Boyne

Photo by Mollie Coyle Photo by Mollie Coyle

Attending a school like Georgetown, you’ve most likely stumbled upon the term “power dressing” more than once. This term applies to dressing in such a way to present oneself with authority and confidence, usually in the workplace. Power dressing is usually a term associated with women due to their relatively later entrance to the corporate world in comparison to men, as well as the prevalence of narrow expectations for men’s attire (i.e. suits). In the late 20th century, when women prominently gained the freedom to scale the corporate ladder, power dressing became a prominent feature of the image presented by the ‘efficacious woman.’


Of course, as all styles change due to the ebb and flow of the fashion world, power dressing has seen a variety of faces. From the stocky, shoulder-padded suits of the 1980’s to the modern outfits of powerful women depicted in shows like Scandal or House of Cards, a clear transformation in what types of clothing count as power dressing is evident.  While the looks of the 80’s were driven by the social pressure on women entering the corporate workforce to appear more manly and “professional” through a deduction of femininity, the rising presence of women in power since then has led to changes in such expectations – changes for the better, as many of us would agree. While patterns and bright colors like pink or yellow would have originally been deemed unfit for the professional standards of power dressing, now such aspects of a woman’s professional style can actually augment her presence in the workplace. With boldness of style comes boldness of character.

Photo by Mollie Coyle Photo by Mollie Coyle


The mindset of blocky navy suits is gone, and trendy tops – paired with a sleek blazer if you’re feeling it – are in. Of course, inspiration can still be drawn from the styles of the most powerful women of the 20th century. Margaret Thatcher always dressed like one would expect the prime minister of the UK to dress, formidable and classic, and her look will be remembered as such. And of course, studying at Georgetown, we can’t forget Hillary Clinton and the trends she has set forth, as her variety of bold and colorful outfits are known far and wide as examples of well-executed power dressing.


Now, while sticking to the classic black and white is always a safe bet for professionalism, don’t be afraid to accessorize with color. A bright bangle or statement necklace can make the difference from unassuming to formidable. Moreover, don’t shy away from dresses and fabric mixing. ‘Solid color on solid color’ shouldn’t define your professional gear, so remember that adding patterns is an excellent way to boost your presence in whichever environment you find yourself to be. Try out pencil stripes or houndstooth for a more classic look, or some bold chevrons or polka dots for a modern, daring look. Women have strived for this level of freedom in the professional world. Take advantage of it and empower yourself through style, but as always, don’t forget to be yourself.

Photo by Mollie Coyle Photo by Mollie Coyle

Posted by:Thirty Seventh

Georgetown's premier fashion and lifestyle blog.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s