Six psychological fashion weapons you need in your business wardrobe
A good business wardrobe consists of solid suits and pencil skirts, sure. But sometimes a woman needs more: some looks that help her to impress. Or to deflect. Never underestimate the power of your fashion choices!
What does a good business wardrobe consist of? For sure experts have explained this to you a thousand times: a few very high-quality shift dresses, suits and blazers in navy, black and beige. Sure, these are no-brainers - but the reality is different. In fact, no work day resembles the next: new allies, new enemies, new challenges! Can some very exquisite but boring business looks be the answer to it all? Of course not.
Remember Hillary Clinton the moment she stepped in front of the cameras to admit her defeat to Donald Trump? She wore a grey and vibrant purple Ralph Lauren suit. Most of us interpreted her choice as a feminist symbol. But in her memoir „What Happened“, she explained her decision as a nod to bipartisanship: blue plus red equals purple (she also revealed that had she won, she would have declared victory in a white suit, as a nod to suffragettes). What she wanted to say with her look was actually not what was heard - but that is beyond the point. Perfectly fitting clothes are armour for a woman because they make her feel comfortable and confident. The more exquisite they are cut, the easier it is to forget them. This creates space in a woman´s mind for more important thoughts, right? But clothes can be even more powerful. Wittily chosen symbols deliver a message. Sometimes they confuse your opponents, sometimes they gather your followers behind you, but most importantly do they help yourself to be the woman you want to be, in that particular day. So, even if most of us probably do not participate in the battles on the international stages of power politics, none of us should underestimate the psychological power of clothes - just keep these chic weapons in your fashion quiver. And don´t worry, they are definitely non-violent.
1. The Happy-Go-Lucky
Every working woman needs a floaty, nonchalant silk dress with a bold print - flowers, stripes, everything that lifts your spirits is allowed. Worn in the right situation, this becomes a witty weapon of deception: nothing is more confusing for old white men than a smart woman in a very feminine dress! Always to be worn when people who are not taking you seriously are involved. Let´s play!
2. The Badass
Remember Clare Underwood in House of Cards the moment she becomes President? To underline that she is taking over power, she wears a sharply tailored dress, buttoned-up to her chin, rigid military style. Sometimes a woman needs to play the general - on her first day as CEO, in crisis meetings - in short, for taking the lead. In these situations, everything with military-inspired details like bold buttons or shoulder lapels works. A more classic men´s style power suit with well-defined shoulders will do the trick as well. Tip: the higher the heels, the more empowering the look.
3. The Bomb
No businesswoman on earth wants the image of the woman who climbed up the ladder because of her looks. And of course, showing a little bit less skin and curves is much sexier anyway. So the Bomb, aka your most body-con dress, Alaia style, should never be used with male colleagues. It should be reserved for dates - and fierce battles with female opponents. If somebody is working hard on getting your job or sabotaging your project, you need to unsettle her. By simply looking fabulous, every day! It is all about occupying her brain capacities to distract her. But don´t lean back in your (midi-length) bombshell outfit and watch her struggle with her own fashion choices for too long - better to use the time with developing a better strategy.
4. The Disco Queen
Bad publicity is better than no publicity. And sometimes you need a little career push. So why not give them a reason for gossiping while you think about your next successful move? Nothing turns heads more than some really crazy shoes. They can be glittery, they can be scandalously high over-the-knee boots - the most important thing is that they are conversation pieces. Means: not only are they a statement, they are worthy of being talked about. This usually also works when you have to wake up a dull overworked crowd in a meeting room, by the way.
5. The Working Girl
Sometimes you get in touch with people in the field; therefore you need a crisp, perfectly tailored shirt made to wear solo. No matter if you go to see the stylists in a photo studio or workers on a construction site, there is nothing worse than appealing detached from reality. If you do not want to end up in an image disaster like Melania Trump with her high heels worn in a catastrophe zone, you better go low-profile. Note: it is better to tune it down too much rather than putting too much effort into it. Good role models are: Lady Diana visiting a mine-field (button down-shirt, chino pants, Tods), and Michelle Obama in her vegetable garden (angler´s vest, tight jeans, Converse). Wear your most excellent ballet flats if you can´t stand sneakers. But don´t even think about a heel. Rolled-up sleeves are a must too, even if only as a symbol: you should at least look like you are ready to get hands-on.
6. The Penitent
You lashed out at a colleague in a meeting or messed up a project, in short: you screwed up. Nevermind, nobody is perfect. We suppose you admitted your fault at the same moment and moved on. But maybe the others have not. So just to be sure, keep your head down the next day, fashion-wise, and emphasise your contrition with what you wear. So black it is - accentuated with a crisp, white collar - doesn´t matter if it a round Peter Pan version or something more classic. It shows your integrity but also lends you the innocent flair of a maid - a perfect attitude combination for winning in court, too!