For me, power dressing has always been synonymous with Chanel suits, court shoes and perms. But I don’t work in the city, I’m not Margaret Thatcher and it’s not the 80s. Sadly. So I’ve been left wondering, how do you dress like you mean business, in an office of people wearing New Balance and jeans? Or look smart, without looking like you’re trying to outrank your boss?
Quite simply, I just want to know how a girl can dress to get ahead in 2016. Without blowing a small fortune. Is that too much to ask?
I don’t think so, so on my own personal quest to Impress People at Work Through the Medium of Clothes, I tracked down three exceptionally well dressed ladies and made them tell me how they do it, without spending lots.
Meet the twenty-somethings who prove that power dressing isn’t just for women on the board (although they’ll all be there soon)...
**Name: **Romilly Morgan
Job: Editor at Quadrille Publishing
**Work Style: **I suffer from work style-schizophrenia, not mentally (hopefully) but because from one day to the next my work is different. If I am on shoot for a book I will wear faux fur, a Breton-top, leather trousers and look-a-like Gucci loafer, as I need to be on my feet for long periods of time. If I am pitching for new books or going through manuscripts with authors, I tend to concentrate on my upper half, as this is all the people in the meeting can see.
Bargain Hunting Spots: My recent finds are Snooper’s Paradise in Brighton, O-S-V Secondhand in Copenhagen and 55 Mill Street in Ludlow (this being the jewel of them all as I have never walked away empty handed, happily for them and unhappily for my bank balance).
Name: Alexandra Edwards
**Job: **In-house fashion PR
Work Style: I always try to think about my outfit the night before and consider what I’m doing the next day. I love a good jacket and usually find that this helps to pull an outfit together and make it look a bit smarter. I love colour and can be quite a magpie so I will usually have something on that stands out whether I am dressed smart or casual
Bargain Hunting Spots: Sample sales. But you need to be prepared to hustle! The competition can get intense.
Name: SJ Speechly
Job: Special Bookings Agent, Models1
**Work Style:**I like to be comfortable but smart, in case I have a last minute meeting with an editor or agent. And - I always keep a plain pair of black suede heels in my drawer. Just in case!
Bargain Hunting Spots: Battersea Car boot sale with a good bargain hunting friend or charity shops in wealthy areas – Notting hill, Kings Road, Covent Garden, Fulham – I got a Celine coat for £50 once!!!
5 Killer Tips For Power Dressing In Your Twenties
Fake it ‘til you make it is a popular saying for a reason
People say this because it works. Romilly, who often has high pressure presentations and pitch meetings to attend, agrees - it’s all about psychology. “I have always been told to dress as though I was going to war (albeit a fashion turf one). Psychologically, I feel more empowered and it does force me to adopt the well-versed ‘fake it till you make it’ mentality. If I armour myself in bold and daring garb - a completely non-scientific – outfit-based osmosis takes place whereby my supposed ‘outfit-confidence’ diffuses into my inner-confidence and I have more conviction in my ideas, thoughts and direction.”
People judge you on first appearances, like it or not
You can try as hard as you like to make a sparkling impression in an interview or a meeting, but chances are, someone’s already made up at least half their mind about you. Alexandra figures the only way to combat this is to look well put together. 'People, unfortunately, do judge on appearances. I find it a shame that scruffy is OK now. I like to make sure I am always dressed for an occasion – sometimes the day leads you to unexpected places.' So iron your clothes, brush your hair and make your Mum proud.
In a job interview, don’t let your clothes speak louder than you
It’s hard to know what to wear for an interview, especially if you don’t know the vibe of your prospective office. So play it safe, and show your flair with small, subtle details. 'Don’t dress to show off that you are ‘cool’ or ‘stylish’ or fashion forward and trendy' says SJ. 'Especially in the fashion industry - you can tell when someone is trying too hard and the only place you want to try hard is at work, not on our outfit!'
Show your prospective employee a cheeky flash of your personality ;-)
You want to look like you’ve paid attention to detail, says Romilly. 'I would dress ‘presentably’ (whatever this means) but with a touch of YOLO, that reflects your personality; be it a bling ring, a glimpse of graphic T - or a red lip. Basically, just a hint of your true character that lies beneath your (supposed) consummate professional veneer.' That’s right, a touch of YOLO. Why didn’t they teach us that at school?
And whatever you do...don’t try this on your first day at a new job….
'In some latent romanticism to noughties power dressing - which entirely stemmed from a childhood spent dreaming about finally becoming a writer like Carrie Bradshaw - I wore perilous Zara stilettos on my first day' Romilly confesses. 'To make me look a) like Carrie and b) taller and older. In fact all I did appear was slightly drunk as I attempted to navigate a pave floored office in never-worn pencil-thin heels. I paired this with a mismatched tuxedo, thinking that was exactly what Carrie would wear to her Vogue column hand-in. The only issue being that I was actually just starting a three-month internship…'
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This article originally appeared on The Debrief.