DRESSING FOR CONFIDENCE
How A Power Suit Can Boost Your Inner Esteem
I’ve talked a lot about confidence on my blog, whether it’s been taking on the big confidence gap debate and sharing my thoughts on why the gender gap needs to be closed, sharing a little on my own journey to confidence and how I transitioned from ‘i can’t’ to ‘i can’, sharing tips on building self esteem to even touching on how dressing can help give you confidence in the times you most need it. The point is, it’s a topic I am really passionate about, both in terms of helping others feel confident in their daily lives and confident enough to ‘lean in’ to help achieve the things they want, but also personally because my confidence journey has been a steep curve.
It’s often hard to imagine how I was back then, 10 – 15 years ago now, but I really was crippled by low self esteem and the unwavering feeling that I couldn’t do it and that I wasn’t good enough, there’s no reason why, I have had an overload of encouragement, support and praise all throughout my life, but regardless in those teen years the confidence barriers hit me really really hard. Today, I have self belief, I have relatively good self esteem, and I feel confident in my ability to do things, to take on challenges at work, to learn something new, and I have proven to myself time and time again that I can do it if I work my butt off and believe in myself. Don’t get me wrong I have moments of anxiety, stress, and bursts of self doubt, but overall I’ve learnt to support myself and give myself the right confidence boosts to get me through it. And that’s where today’s post comes in.
Working in a high pressure industry, in a job that demands a lot of me and requires strong confidence to tackle big global meetings, multi million pound pitches, and senior relationships and stakeholders, I often rely on a few little ‘tricks’ that I know will give me the confidence and self esteem boost I need. Preparation (nothing beats it), The Super Man pose (or if not that, just talking to myself) and finally, dressing for confidence.
We all know clothes can have a huge impact on how we feel about ourselves, pop on your slouchies and lounge in front of the sofa all day and you know you’ll feel a bit lethargic and not particularly motivated, switch in to your shiny new Sweaty Betty gym gear and before you know it you feel equipped and ready to get moving. The same goes for workwear. If you wear your old worn jeans that probably need to be binned, aged sneakers that have never seen a washing machine, and a slouchy jumper that resembles the comfort of your dressing gown, then yes you’re going to feel cosy, but you’re not going to feel ‘va va voom’ (in the words of Thierry Henry). And sometimes feeling a little Va Va Voom is exactly what you need in a work situation to feel confident, ready and proud. Whether it’s a big meeting, a one to one with your boss, an interview, the introduction to a new client or simply the first day of the job, dressing for confidence is one trick in the book that always works.
For me there are three styling tricks and ‘looks’ that I rely on time and time again to boost my confidence at work, and so inspired by Next’s latest workwear collection & campaign all about inner confidence and dressing like a boss in the workplace, I’ll be sharing my three ‘dressing for confidence’ tricks and looks with you.
Starting today, with the ultimate in confidence boosting styling, the power suit (well my take on it that is).
SHOP THE LOOK & BROWSE MY WORK WEAR EDIT
. STRIPED CIGARETTE TROUSERS . NAVY ROLL NECK . BLACK LEATHER BACK PACK . KITTEN HEELS . GOLD DISK EARRINGS . CHECK COAT .
The power suit, much like Amy Cuddy’s infamous Superman pose pre meeting ritual, is an instant confidence booster. Like good armoury, it equips you with the tools to make you feel powerful, look authoritative and believe in yourself. The key however, is to make the power suit work for you, because my friends the power suit can be done well and make you feel fantastic, and it can also be done poorly and make you feel unstylish and like a fuddyduddy (!). The key to a good power suit, and importantly a power suit that makes you feel unbeatable, is the tailoring. Good tailoring makes all the difference, and when I say good tailoring I do not mean the traditional cropped blazer, cinched waist and straight leg trouser worn with a boring shirt. No No No. I mean tailoring that works for you, your figure, that makes you feel fantastic.
For me this means a high rise cigarette trouser, this is key, anything low rise doesn’t work for me and I can ‘feel’ myself shy away instantly because I just don’t feel confident in it. My curves need managing and an un-tapered, high rise, cigarette leg is the ‘one’ for me – this red striped navy cigarette trouser from Next is perfect. Styled right it’s incredibly smart, but the colour combination (navy & red – my colours) and striped side panel give it a modern and chic edge. When it comes to finding the right trouser for you, my biggest tip is to trust your gut. You will know instantly what works for you, because you’ll either look in the mirror and squirm or look in the mirror and feel a buzz of excitement. The latter means it’s the tailoring for you.
Secondly when it comes to the power suit, I for one am NOT a fan of an overly tailored blazer, least not a cropped length and cinched waist, those cuts aren’t particularly contemporary, stylish or chic, I much prefer a slim fit leg and an oversized blazer that sits below the bottom and looks marginally too big. It covers my sins, instantly making me feel good, and gives the ‘power suit’ a slightly more modern and Scandi inspired feel. Matching bottoms and blazers are a big yes from me (when the tailoring is right, as per the above), but if you haven’t got a matching blazer then a long line blazer style coat works perfectly, especially at this time of year. This navy and green check coat works perfectly with the cigarette trousers and gives the look a slightly more ‘laid back’ feel, which again for me feels right. One word of advice on the power suit, it’s really important that the tailoring of the bottoms and blazer make you feel good, I much prefer and feel more comfortable in a slightly understated, dressed down power suit, than something that looks exceptionally corporate. When it comes to clothes, the looks you FEEL best in, are the ones you’ll look best in. So be sure to get the cut and styles that work for you, and not just the ones that Vogue says is in.
Finishing the power suit is of course your top, jumper, shirt, blouse or cami. At this time of year I absolutely love a roll neck jumper, they look incredibly smart anyway, and more so when dressed with a tailored trouser. You can opt for a fitted roll neck which looks fantastic with a high rise loose fit trouser, or something slightly looser for a more undone look. Given the time of year and my preferred fit, I’ve opted for a slightly loose fitting roll neck that I feel complements the very fitted cigarette trouser perfectly, i’ve also chosen a bold red tone to bring out the trouser stripe and also give me that extra confidence boost (more to come on the power of colour in my next feature). Balancing fitted and loose fitting pieces is another thing to consider, but once again, whatever makes you feel best, is what will be best. Next’s current workwear collection really had a fab range of styles, fits, and colourways to choose from, and ensure you get the right cut for you.
When it comes to footwear, the power suit complements a loafer, a pump or a trainer. For formal work wear situations the trainer may be too casual so I always prefer a pump or a loafer. Don’t go for a heel size you can’t walk in, you want to feel relaxed, comfortable and at ease in your outfit, and a very high heel often can hinder that (unless you’ve trained on the catwalk). I’ve teamed this look with a small kitten heel, not something I usually choose, but I just loved the suede effect of these pumps from Next and felt they balanced smart & comfortable perfectly.
Et Voila, my take on the power suit. Dressing it ‘my way’ to ensure I feel comfortable, because there’s one thing that can immediately distract you and waver your confidence when it comes to dressing, and that’s not feeling comfortable. Dressing for confidence requires comfort at its heart.