Power: the capacity or ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events. Katherine Power: Who What Wear’s co-founder and CEO, and our resident power-dressing guru. With years of experience under her ultra-stylish belt, Power has perfected the power-dressing formula, and is graciously sharing her well-honed tips and tricks.
There’s no need to actually be in a position of power to dress powerfully. Power dressing is for anyone who wishes to display confidence, appropriateness, and professionalism. Scroll through for Power’s best advice and favorite items. And yes, that is her real name.
What are the best powerful colors to wear?
I believe that any color (or even print) can be powerful, as long as it’s a very tailored silhouette and paired with the right separate. For example, I often wear a pale pink Jenni Kayne blazer, but the sharp shoulders and geometric hemline keep it from feeling too girly or precious. I wear it with a fitted gray top and slim black pants.
What are the top 3 items that every working woman should own?
1. A very well-fitted black blazer. This is where you should invest in something carefully crafted, even if that means paying more. If you can’t find one that fits perfectly, buy a blazer that fits you perfectly in your largest area and have the rest tailored by a professional.
2. A black motorcycle jacket. This can be taken from day to night, and will instantly make you feel pulled together and in-charge, whether it’s slung over your shoulders with a white party dress, or worn with a pair of wide leg trousers and a silk button up top.
3. Black pointy-toe pumps. I find that suede makes the easiest transition from the office to dinner or evening event. I have multiple pairs of black Manolo Blahnik Suede BB Pumps ($595), including a 4-inch heel for the office, as well as a custom-made 4.5-inch heel pair for night.
You might see a theme here: BLACK. If you invest in strong black pieces, you can mix them with other colors and styles to feel a bit more powerful.
What styles should be avoided?
To generalize: things like tiny florals, novelty prints, or pastel lace. But to be honest, I can think of ways for these things to work, if paired with one of the power-exuding items mentioned above. It’s more about how you style these items and how they fit.
What are your go-to work wardrobe designers/brands?
Jenni Kayne, Celine, Isabel Marant, Raquel Allegra, Zara, and J.Crew.
What is the most important lesson you've learned since starting your career, when it comes to power dressing?
To have a few key items that, no matter what I wear with them, will make me feel comfortable, confident, and professional. For me it’s a pair of slim black Celine trousers (I wear them at least four times per month), my Manolo pumps, and some great Isabel Marant or Jenni Kayne blazers. Err on the professional side, over looking “fashionable,” if you’re in doubt. In the end, you’ll feel more confident if you lean a little bit more on the conservative side.
What would you consider your signature power accessory to be?
Probably my men’s-size watch, or my blue leather Hermes Ulysse MM Notebook ($380). Both go with me to every meeting.
Scroll through the below for some of Power's favorite powerful pieces.
Manolo Blahnik Tayler Bicolor Leather d’Orsay Pumps ($735) in Black White
Band of Outsiders Leather Moto Jacket ($1,595) in Black
Equipment Cotton Slim Signature Blouse ($74) in Klein Blue/Black
Helmut Lang Gala Stretch-Twill Blazer ($460) in Black