This ensemble was inspired by my own love for suits and a recent conversation on the forum about power dressing. Crisp tailoring, luscious fabrications, perfect fit, a sleek silhouette, and intense polish is the armour that shields us at work and in social settings. On some subconscious level, a suit gives us the confidence to fight back under adversity. There’s definitely something about wearing one that makes us feel authoritative, powerful and strong.
The bouclé Chanel suit is the original power suit, and is still widely worn by women in politics, business, and high-end social settings like charity events. Its retro integrity and rich history make it a chic modern classic that will stand the test of time. By all means invest in a Chanel suit (or a lookalike) and feel fabulous.
But looking to the past for power suit inspiration isn’t our only option. We can also look to the future. And if my instincts are correct, the future of power suits is already with us today. Not yet commonplace on the retail floors, but ubiquitous in popular culture. The look is fashion-forward, comfortable, crease-resistant, slimming and wears like iron. It’s a graphic vibe that is thoroughly modern. A look that can make us feel superhuman. I call it the Super Suit.
I’ve stuck to dark neutrals and primary brights, but feel free to use any colour palette. Here are the components:
Jumpsuit, Leotard or Dress: For an authentic super suit vibe, choose a leotard in a silhouette that works with your body type. Or go for a leather mini dress if you prefer a little coverage on the thigh area. To make less of a statement — “ultimate power suit lite” if you like — choose a jumpsuit, as I have done in the outfit on the far left. You don’t need to wear tights with this option, which makes it somewhat less “super”, but it is a good option if you’re not into hosiery.
Tights: You’ll need tights for the leotard and mini dress options, but not for the jumpsuit. Choose a full or cropped length, depending on what works best with the footwear. You can create either a low or a high contrast between the tights and the rest of the outfit. Low contrast will create a column of colour and is more conventionally flattering. But there’s no doubt that a high contrast is more bold, more fun, and delivers more impact.
Cape: The cape was made for this ensemble. You can choose either a long or a short version. The former works well for the “lite” rendition and for petites. Longer capes make a bolder statement and are a slam-dunk for Team Tall. Lace capes add textural interest, especially with monochromatic versions of the outfit. Bright capes in solid colours make the most powerful statement. Just what you need when presenting to board members at the next annual meeting.
Patent Boots: It’s all about boots and only high shine will do. No substitutes. Heels add height to your outfit, enhancing your physical presence. Choose booties, mid-calf lengths, knee-highs, or over-the-knee styles. Choose neutrals or brights, depending on which works best with your outfit. It’s an extra bonus if the boots have steel toes. Some of my clients swear by the practicality of a reinforced toebox when it comes to resolving workplace conflicts.
Accessories: A wide belt adds structure and definition to the silhouette and is an extremely popular accessory with this ensemble. Cuffs, gloves and masks are optional but do add to the mood. A shield can be useful in some situations. Choose one in colours that work with the palette. I vote metallic or brights. Black shields tend to look heavy — especially with an all-black suit — so stay clear of those.
Finally, while my renditions above are for the ladies, men can also get in on the action. Here’s a photo of my client Sam in his own super suit, which he wears when he wants to feel particularly strong for a day of work defending the house from all manner of intruders. You look fabulous, Batsam. Thank you for being a stylish and powerful inspiration to us all.