Power Dressing and Influence in Today's Entrepreneurial and Startup World
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Power dressing today includes a multitude of options that go far beyond a dark blue suit or a crisp sari. Various global brands in all economic brackets have entered the fashion market, and numerous homegrown brands have mushroomed, leaving people spoiled for choice. Even most fashion-illiterate can find inspiration only a click away. But through all this, the motivation behind why people power dress has remained unchanged - to be strategic in influencing how they are perceived.
The struggle to communicate who one stems from the lack of harmony between one's personality traits (assertive, shy, quirky, etc.), physical characteristics (body type, skin tone, hair colour and texture) and clothing values (fashion likes and dislikes). It is easy to be misunderstood when your clothes are not quite right for the structure of your body or don't go with your personality. Bridging the gap between these three elements is key in determining your personal style, and this bridge can only be built through deepening self-awareness.
Think of power as having a sense of understanding and command over your values, your personality traits, and your physical body; as being self-aware about your appearance, your identity, the roles you play, your goals and dreams, what you want to achieve in this life, and what principles you want to follow.
The Modern Wardrobe
Power dressing is nothing but a reflection of these things, keeping in mind the location you’ll be in, the occasion you're dressed for, and the company that you keep. When these elements come together in a coherent fashion, you are bound to make a statement that is both powerful and lasting.
Once you have mastered a level of self-awareness, you can start building a wardrobe that will make the desired statement.
Wear darker hues to appear credible and intelligent
Wear structured garments with angular lines and strong contrasts to appear authoritative and in control
Wear thick, stiff, opaque fabrics to look more distinguished
Add layers to a basic outfit to look more formal and put together
When in doubt, always stick to the basics
Don't get stuck in the trend trap - Invest in timeless and versatile pieces so you can create multiple looks on a budget
Classic patterns like pinstripes, pindots, and paisley will never fail you
Soften tailored garments with untailored elements or layers to appear dependable and conscientious
Add a pop of colour or quirk to an otherwise muted outfit to come across as more approachable
Avoid large prints as those seem unprofessional
Avoid tees and denim, especially distressed ones
Wear colours in the family of your eye colour, preferably one shade lighter, to bring more attention to your face
Always focus on good grooming and hygiene
Tips For Everyone
These tips can be applied to both Indian and western looks, and are great for anyone who wants to start power dressing. But a good outfit only becomes great when you infuse it with your own personality. So a CEO may feel compelled to wear a suit but could have fun with a number of added elements. Men can get creative with the design of their cufflinks, the patterns on their socks, the frame of their glasses, and the colours on their ties and pocket squares; whereas women can play around with the design of their watch, earrings or brooches, add statement pieces like a scarf, or experiment with the fabrics and patterns of their suit.
When making snap judgements about individuals based on how they look, people are often driven by conditioning. So even though it's important to follow some rules, it doesn't mean you can't still have fun with what you wear. Such a look would be credible, but still interesting, and reflective of the person behind the garments.
Having said that, power dressing means different things in different industries. Top executives in creative fields can wear mismatched suits, and often have a lot more leeway with colours and prints. But do think twice before wearing shades of red - a colour that denotes power, and passion for your work, but can also be interpreted as too romantic, and therefore undermine your abilities and contribution.
Historically, people dressed in ways that identified them with their community, their social strata, and profession. So clothes were meant to reflect a sense of belonging. Even though times have changed, and we don't adhere to such systems any longer, clothes can still be used as a powerful resource in communicating your authority, the role you play, and how you wish to be perceived in order to get the opportunities that you want. Clothes still reflect a sense of belonging, only now it is to the “culture” you choose to belong to.