The Power of Dress

We’ve all heard the term “power suit,” especially in reference to the color-blocked pantsuits sported by Hillary Clinton—but pantsuits aren’t the only thing that can radiate power. When a woman feels confident in what she’s wearing—whether it be a dress, a pantsuit, or nothing at all—that, my friends, is power. But, how do we go about feeling confident in our clothes? What about our clothing choices makes us feel self-assured or self-reliant? And if we don’t feel that way, how can we start?

            As I thought about the force behind what we wear (and it is a force to be reckoned with), all of these questions flooded my mind. I started to analyze the reasons I choose the clothes I wear each day and I realized something that startled me—what we wear each day speaks directly to others. Whether we are intentional about it or not, the clothes we put on each morning says something about who we are.

            So, for a week, I decided to put my theory to the test and focus on the feelings behind my wardrobe choices.

Monday was a pretty casual day—I had a lunch meeting at a local coffee shop and then I would be spending the remainder of the day catching up on some writing and reading and possibly running a few errands. Conscious of the day I had ahead of me, I pulled on a pair of Jesse Kamm Sailor Pants because they’re tailored so they look put together and yet they aren’t pretentious. I paired them with a cropped linen t-shirt because it was forecasted to be 90 degrees and humid today and the coffeeshop has no A/C, and since the pants were high-waisted the crop top let me feel free without revealing a lot of skin. I wore it with a pair of classic black vans for comfort (a subtle nod to my middle school days) and the Building Block Peephole Tote, because I like to keep things transparent—literally.

I felt comfortable enough to run my errands but put-together enough to take on my meeting and tackle some writing deadlines I had. As one of my professors oft said in college, you perform better when you’re dressed better—he wasn’t wrong. But, what he failed to realize is that a part of performing better is also having confidence in what you’re wearing.

The rest of the week consisted of outfits similar to that of Monday’s because wide leg pants or high waisted jeans and a tee or simple blouse is my go-to. I like to look structured, but I need to be comfortable, because that is where I find my power and my confidence. But alas, Friday called for something a little dressier than my usual outfit combination.

With some appointments in the afternoon and a dinner in the evening, I needed something that would take me from day to night—I opted for my Kaarem Triangle Midi dress in a sultry blue-grey and a pair of Maryam Nassir Zadeh Palma heels in faux crocodile blue. It was hot out, so a dress was a simple choice, but the cut-out in the back added some intrigue—perfect for dinner. The heels were high enough that they made me feel sexy, but not so high that I wasn’t comfortable to walk in them. I paired it with my Building Block Peephole Tote again, because I had a lot of things I needed to carry around with me, but for dinner I opted to just carry the cylinder that accompanies the bag—it served as the perfect clutch for a night out.

These two outfits were vastly different, but I felt my power in both of them. So why did I feel powerful in them? Why did I feel that these outfits, or more precisely, me in these outfits held force? It wasn’t simply because I dressed for the occasion, or the job, or for the people I was going to be with—it was because I dressed for me. Hillary Clinton’s pantsuits are powerful not because they are pantsuits, but because she feels like a boss when she wears them—she radiates confidence.

The power in the way we dress comes from within ourselves. Yes, we can dress for a special occasion, for the weather, for the errands we have to run, or for the job we have to do, but the force behind what we wear comes from the confidence we have in the clothes we’re in.

They say you should love the skin you’re in, and you should, but you should also love the clothes you’re in. Don’t be afraid to dress for yourself; don’t be afraid to share who you are with the world—because when you do, it radiates power and confidence, and that is hot as hell.

Written by: Kirsten Miller
Photography from Idun's SS16 Lookbook by: Caylon Hackwith