columnist

AUGUST
2014

POWER DRESSING

Publisher : Magna Publications - CITADEL Pune

The woman of today wants to be assertive and yet humble; independent and submissive at the same time; modern and yet traditional and above all professional and yet a homemaker. Often I observe contemporary women dwindle between these attributes in order to be a perfect mix. But in this whole sense of striving too hard she forgets the role and the power of dressing which make her lose out on her lasting impressions!

From First Ladies to a housewife, a politician and an IT professional, dressing makes a world of difference to your confidence which in turn is exuberated in your persona. It baffles me to see some of the socialites, professionals and students create a fool of themselves in the public eye. Just the other day at a nearby cinema hall, I witnessed a bunch of high school girls dressed in boots, bangles, shorts and full blown make up, giving a ‘wannabe’ impression to all around them. On the other side of the theatre were a bunch of page 3 moms who flaunted every brand possible under the sun ... There were some professionals too, who probably had come straight from work as they had their company tags around their necks, but they weren’t dressed appropriate either. I was truly amazed at their weird sense of well being and had sympathies for all of them.

Pick up any mythological or history book and there’ll always be an explicit description of how the characters were dressed...Be it the Mahabharata, Ramayana or the Egyptian pharaoh Hatshepsut there has always been a certain pen-picture and image drawn for the good, the bad, the seductress and the ugly. So my question is that apart from learning the values, why haven’t these myriad ways educated us of the culture of dressing too? And if it hasn’t why are we ashamed of learning the conformist power-dressing look from the experts.

Having had the pleasure of interacting with fashion writer Robb Young, who has deconstructed the wardrobes of history's most powerful females as per the Forbes magazine, it gives me insight into enlightening not just the simpletons but also the influential women in today’s society about the role of clothing and dressing in our day to day life. Women all over the world have used it to communicate their ideas and their power and why should any one of us be left behind?

Power dressing simply refers to a style of clothing and hair intended to make wearers seem authoritative and competent in their respective sphere of work. It is usually used in connotation for a working woman, but my sensibilities make me encompass the home maker of today as well who is confident, sexy, versatile and a social butterfly. Your clothes should underline and strengthen your image; they shouldn't define it. Nowadays power dressing is less formal, less high-maintenance and is much more confident – you can wear one-of-a-kind clothes (bespoke), no labels or designer mixed with high street labels, vintage pieces and jewellery in order to define your professional image rather than going with the in-crowd and being one of many. Only one person can be on top of the crowd and you better look and dress that way...

It has been said that if you dress shabbily, people will remember the clothes, but if you dress impeccably they’ll remember the woman. You need to update your wardrobe constantly with current items to keep your image fresh and in the moment. Don't get stuck in a rut and routine - you'll be quickly labelled as out-of-date, unable to keep up with modernisation, inflexible and not resilient enough to cope with today's complexity in business or at home. So here are some classic tips for you to follow the mantra of Power dressing:-

1. Look current - make sure that your outfit does not look dated in fabrics, cuts and accessories. Nothing is more aging and draining than wearing clothes which look out of fashion. Make sure that your investment buys have a timeless look and feel, so you can jazz them up for the occasion and adapt them to current fashion trends. Every classic item needs to be worn with in an on-trend way by either accessorizing your look with trendy items or wearing it in line with current fashions.

2. In a professional environment, real power dressing is about standing out from the crowd, so that your professional look is current and presents an image of effortlessness, freshness and the idea that you are up to speed and able to cope whatever is thrown your way. No one should get the feeling that it takes you hours to get dressed - you need to make it look easy, a no-brainer, so that you don't give anyone the impression that you're wasting any valuable time, time that could be better spent on business.

3. Maintain your clothes well. The minute you look unkempt and untidy, people will associate your appearance with your state of mind, your work ethic and see it as disrespectful to your co-workers, companies and clients. Instead of being an asset you become a liability to the company. It is quite simple; look groomed and people will like being associated with you; don't and people will keep their distance.

4. At home give the impression you are someone who pays attention to details when you dress, it indicates you will do the same within your relationships and give the little extra attention needed when the situation arises. Don’t complain of losing your man’s interest; instead work towards it with your unique dressing style. It is indeed tough but not impossible. So try to look pleasant al all times with neat bearing.

5. Create the illusion of the perfect shape. The aim is a neat hour glass figure (which is considered the perfect and most balanced figure of all body shapes). The stripes on the left will make someone look wider (if that's what you need). The stripes on the right make a person look thinner (if that's what you need).

It is never a good style to wear designer labels from top to toe for everyone to see. It shouts ‘look at me' which besides being tacky, shows bad taste and will make people forget what you are all about and what you have to say about yourself. Wearing all designer simply weakens your credibility making you look shallow and loud with no substance. People will forget about you but they won't forget your outward appearance i.e. your dressing- and that is not how you should like to be remembered in any business where you want to succeed. Your dress should reinforce your personality.

So be true to yourself and develop your signature style. Don’t imitate others coz we all are different in not just looks but also in personalities, which explained by how two women will piece an outfit differently. If you favour the classic look, you’ll have a neat haircut and immaculate make-up. If you are not that type you will never pull this off, so why waste your time and energy copying this look and image? You'll only, fuss over your outward appearance and keep checking if everything is in place... Instead, wear what works for you and apply a lower maintenance, less fussy look – it doesn't have to mean being unkempt. Opt for lip gloss instead, choose shirts that won't crease so easily and that have stretch in their fabric (which will ensure not only more comfort but also a better fit), put your hair in a pony tail or pull it up with a clip. If you're worried about runs in your tights then opt for thick ones or stick to trouser suits. Don't try to be someone else or fill someone else shoes; make your own mark by working out what works for you.