The rise of power dressing for both men and women has become a major topic discussed throughout the world. Thanks to technology providing us with social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, promoting the importance of feeling confident and empowered through our outfit choices is now easier than ever before.
When we think of empowerment, connotations of confidence, individuality, and ability spring to mind. We have experienced huge changes towards a more inclusive and equal society. But what exactly makes us feel empowered?
One thing is our choice of clothing and footwear. Whether we have a keen interest in the latest apparel the fashion world presents or prefer to stick with the same go-to outfit that has become our staple over the years, clothes can make us feel confident.
With this said, we discuss how clothing can make a stand for empowerment and make women and men feel confident outside the office.
Heels and the gender neutrality movement
In recent years, the gender-neutral movement has taken society by storm. Gender neutrality is a movement away from segregating people by the binary concept of ‘male’ and ‘female’. Instead, we see individuals as ‘people’ rather than be defined by their gender and the stereotypical associations with them.
Nowadays, the diversity of heels has become the perfect representation of what the gender-neutral movement is all about. Although stereotypically worn by women, heels are now a popular choice of footwear for all genders. In fact, high heeled shoes were originally created as military footwear – with the heel keeping horse riders in the stirrups. The heel, therefore, was once most popular with men as a sign of power and military prowess. Over the years, the design became linked to women, but in 2020, it seems the style is finding its footing across all genders once more.
According to a recent survey we collected, 22 per cent of men say they feel empowered wearing heels along with 25 per cent of women. As for specific age categories that feel empowered by heels, 56 per cent of 18 to 24-year-old females feel empowered while wearing heels and 46 per cent of men in this category feel the same.
As the world continues to abolish gender-orientated clothing, heels are a powerful symbol of this movement. Thirty-year-old Ashley Maxwell-Lam explained that after talking to a female employee about how wearing heels made her feel confident and empowered, he too decided to buy a pair for himself. Since then, he has swapped the flats for heels to work two or three times a week.
Clothing and confidence
Other than empowerment, many people think that clothing can provide a sense of confidence in both your appearance and personality. There is no magic formula as to what clothes are considered to be ‘empowering’. This is up to every individual to decide what they feel the most confident and strong-minded in.
The founder of workworkwork.co, Katherine Ormerod, explains that she finds empowerment in clothing through a variety of different colours, prints, and pairing unusual items together. She then explained that after her confidence was shot as a result of making the decision to go freelance, she purchased a new pair of jeans which improved her mood and confidence.
For the likes of blogger and entrepreneur Frédérique Harrel, she explains that she allows for her different moods and personalities to determine her day-to-day outfit: “I like my outfit to translate my mood and it often has to look crazy! (…) If you mash everything together, that’s pretty much my perfect outfit.” She goes on to explain that the bolder the colours, textures, and shapes of the outfit are all factors she considers when power dressing.
Power dressing with trousers
The original concepts of power dressing are centred around wearing clothing items that reflect an important and powerful position in business, politics, or other superior roles. However, power dressing isn’t just for those that are in a position of high authority – it is for everyone who wants to feel empowered in their day to day lives.
Historically, women wearing trousers wasn’t an accepted form of dress. But now, feeling powerful and self-assured when wearing this attire is commonplace.
Many fashion brands place empowerment with trousers at the heart of their image. The likes of Khloe Kardashian and Emma Grede’s denim brand ‘Good American’ is the perfect example of this. In an interview with Elaine Lipworth, Chloe Kardashian describes their brand as a ‘revolutionary’ movement that is “all about empowerment”. She continues to explain that she dislikes the phrase ‘plus-size’ and instead has created a brand that embraces all body types and sizes.
With the world continuing to place empowerment as a priority, finding ways we can empower ourselves and those around us is vital. Although a simple pair of mid-heel shoes might seem humble enough, for many people they symbolise much more than just a fashion statement.