Dress to Show Power

A Quick Recap on the Power Suit

During WWII women wore shoulder pads as a symbol of solidarity as they contributed at home while the men were away. And again in the 80s for the second wave of the feminist movement; to show a woman’s power in the workplace which began the era of power dressing. These suits and similar fashion choices with strong broad shoulders represented taking charge and embodying power in male-dominated industries.

In 1997 Kasperk did a study that showed men with broad shoulders are not only perceived to be more masculine, but they also possess higher testosterone levels. So, when women want to convey dominance and power thinking it will excel their careers, they turned to clothing to mimic the traditionally thought of as masculine traits. 


But why?

The act of wearing a suit that comes with perceived masculine personality characteristics like courage, independence, and assertiveness coupled with heels or makeup can draw upon feminine traits such as support, empathy, and sensitivity; all being traits that are valued in leadership in the office.

Power Suits 2017

We have been reminded again of the power of the pant suit thanks to Hillary, and it seems that the fashion houses are taking notice. “80s power-suiting vibe is pervading the fall 2017 collections, exemplified by bold blazers layered over high-neck shirting, often paired with tight,
high-waisted pants or skirts and tights. Think Prince meets ‘Heathers.'”-  Fashionista

The worst part of all this? The issue is that women seemingly need a fucking suit to convey our power. My style has always incorporated menswear, and mostly because I like the looser fit; but subconsciously, I wonder if I am trying to convey more power and be more assertive, especially when having a more slender, less curvy figure has differed me from wearing tight “curve hugging” clothing.

 Is there a way to be comfortable in your own skin and represent that without trying to prove something through your style choices?



Co- Founder of Psych n Sex, previous writer and campus educator for the Kinsey Institute & published psychology researcher. Manhattan girl obsessed with post ww2 abstract expressionism, beet juice, vintage clothing & Scandinavia.

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