Power Dressing

First popularized in the 1980s, power dressing refers to an effort by the wearer to convey a sense of dominance, confidence and professionalism through his style of dress and hair. During the greed decade, power dressing was characterized by boxy suits with significant shoulder padding, double-breasted suits, dress shirts, briefcases, and silk ties. The overall palette of this wardrobe was dark, although power dressers understood exactly how to use bold, colorful accents, such as a red tie paired with red socks to heighten the impression they left on others.

Recently, following the slight upturn in the economy, designers have brought power dressing back, minus the ‘80s edge. Here's how to pull off power dressing in 2010.

Power Dressing

 Mr. Hare Miller Scotch Grain - Credit: Mr. Hare

Mr. Hare Miller Scotch Grain

Basic black leather shoes is a must for any power dresser. With their soft scotch-grain leather construction and a high-shine toe cap, these slim shoes from Mr. Hare are a fine example of the simple, luxurious style you're aiming for. As you would expect from shoes handcrafted in Tuscany, these come with a hefty price tag, but it’s worth it if you plan on power dressing with any regularity.

Pair them with dress socks in a bold color (say, a deep purple), matching your pocket square or tie to your socks.

Price: $662
Where to buy: See Mrhare.co.uk for the nearest location
 Fitzgerald Fine Stripe 1818 Suit - Credit: Brooks Brothers


Brooks Brothers Fitzgerald Fine Stripe 1818 Suit

The cornerstone of power dressing is, of course, the suit. But not just any suit. By definition, a power suit should put all the other suits in your wardrobe to shame. It's the suit that commands respect and makes you look -- and feel -- like a million bucks. It should also be one of the finest suits you own, so prepare to save up for it and then splurge when you find the right one.

Brooks Brothers’ Fitzgerald pinstripe suit is a shining example of a modern-day power suit. Narrow lapels, higher armholes, a two-button closure, slim-fitting flat-front trousers, impeccable Italian tailoring, and a flattering drape all combine to give the wearer a lean, elegant look.

Price: $998
Where to buy: BrooksBrothers.com
 Geoffrey Beene Cool and Dry French Cuff dress shirt - Credit: Macys.com



Geoffrey Beene French Cuff Dress Shirt

Once reserved for more formal events, French cuff dress shirts have made a comeback in the business world. And when paired with a power suit, it's easy to see why they've experienced a resurgence in popularity -- they add a dramatic yet refined finish to an already upscale ensemble. If you're shopping on a budget, however, a French cuff dress shirt is one place you can save some money as it will largely be concealed underneath your blazer. This one from Geoffrey Beene is machine washable, but still exudes a sophisticated style. To carry a polished look through your ensemble, opt for tastefully shaped cuff links in sterling silver.

Price: $34.99
Where to buy: Macys.com

 Theory Garris Vest - Credit: Theory.com

Theory Garris Vest

When you call it a day and head out for an afterwork martini, you'll want to abandon your blazer for a more casually tailored vest. Theory's four-button wool version is made from a textured wool stretch fabric that adheres closely to the body, showcasing a defined physique to its best advantage. On days when you don't have any business meetings that require top-notch power dressing but you still want to convey an air of authority, pair this vest with matching trousers, a dress shirt and a tie.

Price: $195
Where to buy: Theory.com
 Thomas Pink Deep Red and Pink Aires Spot Silk Men’s Woven Tie - Credit: Thomas Pink


Thomas Pink Deep Red Woven Tie

Given the neutral colors that dominate a wardrobe geared toward power dressing, the place to add bolder statements -- a cornerstone of power dressing -- to your suit and tie combos is in the accessories department. This 100% silk, deep-red tie from Thomas Pink lends just the right amount of character to dressy ensembles and provides some much-needed contrast against a navy suit and white dress shirt.

Price: $91
Where to buy: ThomasPink.com
 Kenneth Cole True Colors Briefcase - Credit: Kenneth Cole


Kenneth Cole True Colors Briefcase

The wrong bag can completely ruin an otherwise incredible look. When you don a suit or other dress clothes, for example, it appears out of sync if you're carrying your stuff around in a back pack. For work, a briefcase is the most ideal bag because it makes you look like you take your job seriously.

Kenneth Cole's leather model features a handle as well as a removable shoulder strap that makes it easy even for commuters to haul their necessities around. What's more, it has plenty of space, including a laptop sleeve that can accommodate a 15.4-inch screen, two main compartments, a zippered document pocket, and room for your phone, business cards, pens, and more.

Price: $195
Where to buy: KennethCole.com
 Florsheim By Duckie Brown Shoes, Electric Blue - Credit: Duckie Brown


Florsheim By Duckie Brown Brogue Shoes

Part of power dressing is adding bold elements in unexpected ways to what would otherwise be a more, well, regular work look. One place you can feel free to play around when power dressing is with your shoes, experimenting with wild colors, for example. These calf leather Florsheim by Duckie Brown shoes have a classic shape and style that makes them appropriate for teaming with a suit -- but their electric blue hue will give your dressy outfits a bold, contemporary edge.

Price: $395
Where to buy: Florsheim.com
 Lanvin Double-Breasted Blazer - Credit: Neiman Marcus


Lanvin Double-Breasted Blazer

Double-breasted blazers were a mainstay of ‘80s power dressers. This time around, however, you'll see this power-dressing staple revived in a less square-shaped, much more flattering way. Lanvin's merino wool blazer, for example, combines the respectability of a double-breasted jacket with the softness and suppleness of a perfect-fitting sweater. Team it with a white dress shirt and trousers for day, and take it into the weekend by swapping your dress pants for a pair of jeans.

Price: $935
Where to buy: Lanvin.com is launching soon

The ‘80s were all about excess in every sphere, including fashion and business. The result was what we now think of as some pretty comical getups. Thirty years on, however, we can look back at the original inspiration for these cringe-worthy ensembles and find some merit in them. Power dressing, for example, is a concept we can still relate to because looking pulled together and prepared for work is just as important now as it was then.



  1. I think a variety of pocket squares would be valuable to groomsmen. Different styles and colors that exactly match bridesmaids gowns. WHAT DO YOU THINK? IS THERE A FUTURE IN THIS FOR WEDDINGS. http://www.PocketSquareZ.com


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