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Five Ways to ‘Boss Up’ Your Wardrobe for Power Dressing

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at St. Andrews chapter.

2020 was a tumultuous year not only in terms of the pandemic, but also in fashion trends. Last year saw the rise of a fashion aesthetic that was somewhat a mix of the 90s nostalgia with a hint of Y2K. A lot of 2020’s style was determined by Tiktok and Instagram, where pleated skirts, oversized hoodies, sweater vests, flared pants, dainty jewelry, and sleek hairstyles became instantly popular among the youth. Mainstream fashion brands like Zara and H&M are selling clothes in neutral colors, with co-ord sets remaining popular from 2019, and shoulder padding making a comeback. 

Power dressing is all about channeling your inner boss and owning your confidence. By definition, it is whatever you wish it to be, and that can include breaking conventional fashion rules. Perhaps 2021 could be the year for fierce fashion choices in fabrics, hues, and styles. To provide a little inspiration, here are five ways you can ‘boss up’ your wardrobe to power dress. 

1.    Choosing an outfit that makes you feel powerful

Kamala Harris taking oath of office for vice president at the 2021 presidential inauguration
Photo by U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Kevin Tanenbaum distributed under a Public Domain Mark 1.0 license
The common misconception about power dressing is that women have to wear suits to look like a boss, but really dresses, shirts, shorts, and more can be forms of power dressing as well. A conventional route to power dressing would be to opt for tailored pants and blazers, and the current trend of shoulder padding could also help boss-up your closet. However, any outfit that makes you feel like ‘you’ should be your ultimate outfit for power dressing. This can  include jeans, and with a sprinkle of confidence., even your favorite pair of joggers can be your perfect bawse outfit for WFH (Work From Home).

Another aspect of power dressing is keeping a uniform. No, this doesn’t mean looking like Steve Jobs; it means maintaining a color palette of clothes in your wardrobe. Ditching the funky trends and opting for neutrals, pastels, or the classic black and white is a good way of maintaining your wardrobe’s color palette. A perfect example is that of Madam Vice-President Kamala Harris, who has an amazing color palette for her wardrobe. 

The 20s will be all about fighting gender norms in the workplace and in fashion. Each body is different, and we cannot categorize our bodies into certain shapes, so wear what makes you feel the happiest version of yourself. 

2.    Accessorizing with statement pieces

Courtesy of GLDN

Balancing ‘attractive’ and ‘powerful’ is really important when it comes to power dressing, and this is where accessories come into play. The late British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, remains a fashion inspiration for accessorizing with statement pieces like her infamous pearls. You do not have to go for fancy earrings, chunky rings, expensive watches, or heavy neck-pieces – simple accessories like hoop earrings could do the trick for you. 

The ultimate key to power dressing is to let your appearance compliment your character instead of outshining it. Go for jewelry that adds to your personality instead of weighing it down. Dainty jewelry, the current obsession, could easily serve as your statement accessories.

3.    “I do my hair toss, check my nails”

Sofia Gonzalez

Hair, makeup, and nails can really be the deal-breaker in power dressing, as a lot of power dressing has to do with grooming. Acrylics can be expensive and are not compulsary when power dressing. However, manicured nails and press-ons can really step-up your power dressing game. The pandemic taught us a lot of things, including how to have pamper sessions at home, so you won’t have to make frequent trips to the salon. However, you can still treat this article as a sign to spend a little extra (guilt-free) on your salon appointments!

When it comes to hair you don’t need to dye your hair in funky colors to stand out. A sleek and simple hairstyle like the one sported by Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez can also add character to your appearance. For makeup, I would say focus on ‘more skincare, less makeup’. Maintaining a good skincare regime is extremely important to carry that youthful 20s glow into your 30s. This is why you should never forget your sunscreen and retinol!

4.    When in doubt, ditch the heel

low-depth of field photo of person holding navy stilletos
Andrew Tanglao/Unsplash

Have you heard the saying “when in doubt, wear heels?” Disregard that. Heels can be arduous to walk in, and not all of us are gifted with toes that can endure the pain of wearing heels for more than a few hours. Although heels may provide you with a classier look, sneakers can make you look more approachable and spontaneous. 

Always make sure your shoes are comfortable, because there is nothing boss-like about roaming barefoot while carrying your heels in your hands due to shoe bites and painful blisters. The classic VANS and Converse could work in your favor, but if you’re looking for something dressier, wedge heels and pointed pumps could be worth a try.

5.    Above all esle, confidence

You will not be able to give off that ‘boss lady’ vibe unless you truly feel like a boss within. We all have our Monday blues days where we just cannot get ourselves to look put together, and it’s okay to feel that way because all boss-women have their off days: nobody’s perfect. Once you are confident in your appearance, you are going to be the boss lady you have dreamt of being. Confidence is your best outfit. No matter how well-tailored your pants, how limited-edition your handbag, how expensive your watch and shoes, or how blingy your jewelry, it all boils down to how you carry yourself, and whether you channel your confidence to the world. No matter what you choose to wear, make sure you carry it with not 100% confidence, but 200% confidence.

It’s never about the high-end fashion pieces sitting at the back of your closet or how expensive you look. Power dressing is about projecting you. It is all dependent on the image you want to portray to everyone. My mom once told me that “it’s you who wears the clothes, and not the clothes who wear you,” and this saying has always resonated with me because if you are not comfortable in how you look, no one is going to believe that you are a boss. In this world which continues to lack body positivity, power dressing is a tool that puts you in the spotlight to showcase your inner self to everyone. You should truly give it a go to see how much better it will make you feel about yourself. 

Syna Singh

St. Andrews '24

Syna Singh is a third year at St Andrews majoring in Financial Economics and Management. She is originally from India but has lived her whole life in sunny Dubai. Photography, traveling, tennis and blogging are some of her interests. In addition to that, she hates being unproductive but also loves binge-watching true crime series, kdramas, rom-coms and of course, The Office!
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