Power dressing

by Admin
Updated: July 20, 2018

There are many benefits of power dressing including personal brand identity and saving time

There has never been a time in history when appearance didn’t matter. Appearance affects how we relate to each other. People argue to what extent it should make a difference but the simple truth is that it does. When the goal is to get on with work (as opposed to making a particular statement), a misleading appearance can undermine that process but time spent deciding what to wear is a distraction.

Having a well-thought-out strategy already in place is the solution.

“Power dressing” is an expression coined in the 1970s and generally referred to dressing in a way associated with upper income white collar males, namely, “suit & tie.”

While the details are out-of-date, the association is still valid and the fundamental idea is as important as ever. If you are going to adopt a methodical approach to your appearance, you might as well dress powerfully.

  1. Save time - you already know what to wear.
  2. Show you care - if you take care of your appearance you probably also take care in other things, such as work.
  3. Show you are a team player - sharing common themes builds solidarity.
  4. Establish your personal brand identity - add something understated to your look that makes you unique.
  5. Show you have status - your clothes are not cheap or shabby.

There is no single outfit that provides everything in all situations so here are my guidelines for making good decisions...


Quality comes first.

Quality is not synonymous with “designer.” Also, it isn’t necessarily expensive (but it won’t be cheap).

When you find something good, buy at least three.

If buying something fitted (such as a suit) get it fitted. Ideally have it made to measure.

Tip: Adding a high quality accessory such as a watch or bracelet increases the perceived quality/value of the whole ensemble.

Yes, my wardrobe contains many identical items.

Wear the same thing every day

Some people in some industries seem to be under pressure to wear different clothes every day. Resist.

People will quickly accept a standardized version of your appearance. They will find comfort in it because they know they can rely on you.

Even though the look is the same, use subtle differences to establish that you wear fresh clean clothes every day.

Modern classic

Avoid fashion. The problem with fashionable things is that they go out of fashion. These days it happens very quickly.

Base your look on classical styles. By definition, they have stood the test of time and they don’t frighten people.

Wear black

Do I need to explain this?

Be fit

The fitter you are, the better clothes look on you.

Lounging at home

When I’m working from home, which I’m fortunate enough to do most days, I work in my PJs. But these are not clothes that I sleep in - they are power PJs that specifically assert that I am my own boss. I complete my morning ritual and take getting dressed seriously. The difference is only that I wear lounge pants and a T-shirt. This gear is super comfortable (especially in hot weather), but it is also high quality and fairly expensive.

Business casual

For me, it is a black T-shirt and jeans. Dressed down = with sneakers, dressed up = black suede shoes.

Once again, this clothing is also high quality and fairly expensive - but I can do anywhere and do anything dressed like this.

Power suit

Regardless of your gender or orientation, a plain black trouser suit is the way to go.

It doesn’t matter if you have tattoos, piercings or imaginative hair, people will take you more seriously in a suit.


If you choose to wear a necktie, there is only one knot: The full Windsor. But it does not work well if the tie is too thick.

Given the foregoing advice to wear black, a black suit + white shirt + black tie has that special agent which might be not what you’re really going for. At the very least, a black tie with texture can counter this. Small details of color help.

If you’re choose not to wear a tie, don’t wear a shirt that is intended for one unless you wear something instead of the tie. Even a decorative button can work well.

Half/Mandarin collar shirts are my preference. I don’t like T-shirts with suits.

Impractical clothing

Formal appearance is always impractical.

If you intend to actually do anything - even as simple as a quick trip to the supermarket - you don’t choose to wear a suit, put on heels, or grow your nails long.

This is because the purpose is to show that you are sufficiently important/powerful that you do not need to do manual tasks yourself.

More info

“Buying a Suit in Hong Kong” at checkbeforeyoutrek.com.

“Why Women Who Wear All Black Are Never To Be Messed With” at thoughtcatalog.com.

“Perfect Power Tie Knot? | How to Tie a Double Windsor Neck-Tie” at realmenrealstyle.com.

“Why Chinese Men Grow Long Fingernails” at vagabondjourney.com.

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