After spending two days glued to TV during a “major weather event”, it was good to see that many on-camera women have figured out how to dress boldly and professionally. It seems we girls have developed our own version of the “power suit” that guys have long had as a go-to.
The most compelling evidence? Female meteorologist who spend long on-air minutes standing in front of weather maps, with no desk to hide behind. Young and not so young. Curvy or sleek. Towering or petite. They all look bold, professional and confident.
Six ways to dress boldly and professionally
Whether you are in still in business or have moved on to another passion that requires a professional appearance, here are six fashion attributes that will add to your bold image.
1. Female figure hints
We are not talking stretched around you like a sausage casing. Subtlety fitted at waist and hips and shoulder with a tapered skirt or tailored pant. Baggy dresses don’t hide anything. They give the impression we are trying to fade into the background. The dreaded invisible curse. Don’t fall into that trap. And don’t even think of resurrecting the old 80’s power suit that made us look like little toy men. Toy anything is never bold.
2. Some color
There are good reasons well-dressed men add in a brightly-colored tie or unexpectedly contrasting shirt under those dark suits. It is attractive and interesting. All black is safe and boring. I didn’t see one female meteorologist in all black. Or if I did, they brought color in with a belt or interesting jewelry.
One of the outfits that made me feel most powerful when I did presentations to big groups was a black dress, black tights and black mini-boots. Yet, I never wore it without a pink jacket or a colorful necklace I got in Puerto Rico. It’s ironic that with all the gorgeous birds in the world, so many of us choose to imitate the crow in our color choices!
3. Just long enough
The most universally flattering skirt lengths are just above, just below or at the knee. That’s because these places are relatively thinner parts of your leg. No matter how buxom or petite you are, the right length makes you look taller. And taller is bolder.
I personally love right at knee or just below. Stand in front of a mirror and wrap a pareo around your waist so it hits you at different lengths. Look at each length with shoes on. Which is best for you?
4. Emphasizes a body part that is good on every woman
That is the area between wrist and elbow, where a ¾ length sleeve points the eye. Great for statement jewelry or to emphasize where the feminine waist tucks in. Please, please, please, no matter what your age, don’t wear puffed sleeves and a high waist.
While watching the Weather Channel during Hurricane Harvey, I saw a young meteorologist wear a mini skirt and puffed sleeves. The only thing worse would have been a baby-doll dress. I admired her because her powerful self confidence and knowledge overcame her Little Bo-Peep outfit. But I still I hate to see women give away any of their power.
5. Anything but crew neck
Crew necks for women were created by an evil stepmother. If you’ve busty, it makes you look like you are wearing a fabric covered shelf. If you’re not, it can make you look like Bruce Jenner in the middle of his transition. Abandon this unflattering rounded silhouette for more committed necklines – V’s, boat necks or slighted scooped (no cleavage) all work better for professional settings. If you have a crew neck dress that has all the other positives, wear a damn scarf with it or the crew neck will destroy the whole look.
6. Shoes that build you up
Comfortable classic pumps in just two colors can see you through most situations. Buy a pair in nude and in black. Each pair should have some heel height.
I recently heard about VivianLou insoles on a podcast by two female TV producers. These insoles shift the body’s weight from the toe to the heel when you wear high heels. I’m trying out a pair and will let you know if they work.
I’m doing this because I haven’t seen a pair of flats that doesn’t undermine a professional image as much as the dreaded baby doll dress. While a pair of flats that works may be out there, I still love the way I feel in heels. More powerful and in control. Like putting on armor.
For fall and winter, try black tights with black mini boots, also with some heel height.
Dressing boldly and professionally puts you in charge
In my last years in corporate America, this was my power outfit. Good to see women dressing boldly and professionally all over the TV.
The other plus is this power outfit consolidates our wardrobe. Most days, I work at home in sweats and jeans most days. A couple of times a month, I do talks to groups. I don’t have to worry about what I wear because this outfit never fails me. Like men with their power suits and colored ties, a colorful necklace or interesting bracelet ads some personality while maintaining a bold presence.