For years, women have struggled with their wardrobe choices when it comes to creating their image and style for the corporate arena.
While men have their standard suit and tie as their go-to professional wardrobe, we will question what we should wear to important meetings, interviews or presentations to make the right impact.
As women, we are also notorious for putting more pressure on ourselves to look good than men. And we struggle with vulnerabilities around our professional image and appearance due to societal pressures. It can be exhausting and stressful to constantly consider “what should I wear”, especially if you want to elevate your leadership status, make an impact and own the room.
But the truth is, what you wear as a professional woman, business leader or female executive is a vital part of creating an effective leadership style and showing up as an empowered and confident woman.
Is The Power Suit A Thing Of The Past For Women Leaders?
It’s no secret that, as women, we can have insecurities around our image and appearance at work. And for years, there has been a kind of unofficial dress code for women leaders to follow.
A nice pair of heels, skirt suit, or tailored dress with an accent jacket. Pantsuits for a power look, and we pretty much have it covered.
But then came a global pandemic which meant #WFH became a ”thing”. This has shifted the goal posts for female leaders in many ways. Work-life balance is easier to accomplish and has seen considerable improvements in how we all work together on the virtual stage.
Today our online personal brand and image are now more relevant than ever before as we show up online daily to provide our services, pitch our ideas and conduct business.
Making an impact with our leadership style is now more challenging as we lose the energy and presence we can project in person. Yet, it’s easier in other ways as now we are only visible from the waist upon a 22-inch screen.
Working from home has given us more freedom to relax and become more comfortable with our appearance and the way we dress for work. Mindsets have shifted, and leaders everywhere have adapted their leadership style to accommodate the ”new normal”.
So as we start returning to the office, or splitting our week between the office and home, what now? Does this mean the power suit for women is a thing of the past?
You may like to read Want To Build A Brand And Image That’s Undeniably You? Ask 3 Magical Questions!
‘Power Casual’ Is The New Leadership Style That Packs A Punch And Shows You’re A Confident And Empowered Female Leader.
The pandemic has fast-tracked the casualisation of our working wardrobes, and people aren’t as focused on getting so dressed up today as we used to be in the past. I, for one, am so grateful for the opportunity to be more relaxed with my wardrobe choices.
The pressure on our professional style as female leaders has eased off, and it offers all of us the opportunity to add a bit of personality to the mix. But you must be careful not to be too casual to undermine your authority or how you want to be perceived as a leader.
A great pair of (clean!) white sneakers added to a power suit will tone down your leadership style and add a splash of individuality whilst maintaining a level of authority. A plain crisp well fitted round neck T-shirt instead of a blouse worn under a tailored jacket is a simple touch that can take you from a relaxed home office style to executive chic in an instant. But remember, you still want to command respect in your role and exude the presence of a leader in your business.
So casual accents need to be added to your professional style in moderation. Always consider who your audience is, the occasion, and where you will be showing up. Make sure your professional imprint is consistent and that it reinforces the perception that you are a leader.
To me, our wardrobes and fashion choices as female leaders are a form of self-expression and a savvy tool that we can use to empower ourselves. I have always believed that when choosing your clothes and defining your appearance, one of the best attitudes you can take is to “what you see, is what you get”.
Showing up looking fabulous on the outside without the confidence and energy that speaks to the person you are inside; can come off as inauthentic and misrepresent who you are as a leader.
There’s nothing worse than someone trying to be something they’re not. Who you are shines from within. This new sense of ‘power casual’ for leaders gives us the freedom to dress for success on our terms and make our mark freshly and uniquely.
You can also check out: Top 10 Branding Tips To Elevate Your Professional Image Online + Your Online Image Checklist
Build A New Hybrid Wardrobe Capsule To Amplify Your Leadership Style And Express Your Individuality.
So how do you strike a balance between dressing for the office and working from home?
Hybrid dressing is now a real ‘thing’ to consider when establishing your female leadership style and executive presence. Creating a new mixed wardrobe capsule is the answer to balancing your individuality with a bold, unique leadership style.
Consider what’s in stock in your casual and workwear wardrobes and select the best pieces to mix and match. Pick your top tailored pieces out first, and consider which will work best with your casual selections.
When considering your hybrid looks, make sure you have at least one quality tailored garment as a staple, so you exude a level of sophistication and style to your look.
Once you have sorted through your wardrobe and selected your main capsule pieces, write a wish list of new casual (or tailored) essentials to buy to infuse into your wardrobe to complete your unique hybrid leadership style.
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