As much as we would like to believe that times have tremendously changed for women in the workplace, we still have a long way to go. According to an amazing piece of research conducted by professors from two Norwegian universities, ‘the knee-jerk reaction which automatically makes us put more trust in expressions of masculine rather than in feminine authority seems to lose ground’. This resonates more true in Norway than perhaps any other country, as this is a country in which many females are in positions of power. Some in subtle, and others in not so subtle manner are discarding the notion that they have to borrow from masculine aesthetics to exude power, which can be highly impactful on the way power and authority are perceived in the long run, not just in Norway, but all over the world. Some of the examples we bring you will be inspired by Norwegian female leaders as well as professionals all over the globe.
Passing to power
One of the most subtle steps you can take, as a start, is to follow in the footsteps of a trope identified as ‘passing to power’. What this entails is taking the traditionally masculine attire – the suit, and transforming it into looking more feminine. This is something that is, thanks to the comeback of the power suit, especially the feminine cuts presented by the likes of Stella McCartney, easy to achieve. The cut still keeps certain masculine traits such as wide-leg pants, but you can opt for a silk bow-neck blouse and a fitted, ultra-feminine blazer and essentially have your cake and eat it too. With the usage of tasteful jewellery as well as appropriate makeup and even high-heels, you can exude authority and start breaking the traditional perception of power while still remaining true to your feminine self.
Feminising to power
This is another trope recognized in the research. This one implies tearing down the walls of perceptions of authority in a non-subtle, ultra-feminine way. How? By embracing the dress and in time, making it a symbol of power. This is nothing new, as we’ve seen incredible women such as Amal Clooney rocking incredibly tailored dresses which are completely feminine yet make a clear statement that she’s in charge. Your hair can be long and perfectly blown out, you are free to wear the most stylish accessories, just make sure the dresses in question are work-appropriate in terms of length and cut as you still want to look polished. Speaking of dresses, let’s take a leap and make the iconic DVF wrap dress another office staple. It’s conservative yet feminine, and it balances femininity and workplace appropriateness perfectly.
The millennial tendencies
Thanks to the influence of the millennial generation, we’re seeing significant improvements in the ‘loosening up’ department when it comes dress code. This is precisely why, on your regular days at work, you are absolutely free to wear something completely feminine and even whimsical such as a colourful kaftan. In order to make the look more professional, implement accessories that are more down to earth, such as straight leg trousers and polished bags and pumps that will let the main garment shine and not create and overwhelming outfit.
Never say no to colour
If you feel like busy patterns on dresses are a bit too much for your current workplace, you can always make a statement using powerful accessories. The colours that make everything look more expensive and therefore polished are (aside from neutrals) red and orange, particularly burnt orange, so don’t be afraid to reach for a bag or even super-chic red patent leather pumps when assembling your work armour. You could be wearing the most conservative outfit – for instance a grey pencil skirt and a blazer with a white shirt, but the right accessories will boost your outfit’s overall feminine appeal immensely.
Speaking of accessories
Statement jewellery may be out, but it wasn’t the most appropriate thing to wear to work anyway. Instead, turn to delicate yet poignant minimal jewellery such as pendants, brooches and earrings in silver, gold and even rose gold. They’re the feminine touch that, even though subtle, can make a world of difference. Never underestimate the power of a good accessory. Speaking of which, don’t shy away from red lipstick. Red has always been a sign of not only power and femininity but one of rebellion too, so as long as you keep the rest of your makeup look clean and polished, there is no reason not to make a statement with a bold red lip.
Let’s shake things up ladies and take down the stereotypes together, one outfit at a time.