I Wore An '80s Power Suit For A Week And Now I'm A Powerful Woman
This was a journey I wasn’t prepared for.
There comes a time in every female’s life where they yearn for something more, something to fulfil them and give them purpose.
Hi, I’m Cassie. I’m 22 years old and have recently felt this very absence. It was a feeling I just couldn’t shake. As I sat alone in bed watching Working Girl, I thought maybe it was time to take the next step in life. Every woman longs to hear the tiny pitter patter of silk shirts and shoulder pads, but was it really my time to don the power suit and become a powerful woman? I was about to find out.
– I had to wear two '80s power suits for a full working week.
– I could mix and match the suits and use a couple of items from my wardrobe.
– I had to be out of my comfort zone for the whole week.
– I had to listen Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5” every morning.*
*This wasn’t an official rule but just a rule everyone should live by in general.
Honestly, at this point I am filled with regret, which is ever-so-subtly implied by my very awkward smile. Going into this I had forgotten two very important things: the first is that I am a sweaty person and that silk is an unforgiving fabric; the second is that I can’t walk in heels. I was self-conscious and pretty much spent the day trying to keep my arms down so no one saw my sweat patches and tottering around in my Primark heels I’d bought the day before, sounding like a supply teacher. Was I feeling powerful? No. Did I feel like I could moonlight at a children’s party as Daphne from Scooby Doo? Yes.
On Day Two I abandoned the heels because the fear of falling down an air conditioning vent was too great. Instead I opted for boots, which felt less authentic but a lot less perilous. I think in December I could have got away with this outfit, but honestly I just felt like everyone was looking at me on the tube. This red and green suit felt extremely festive, as if I was a head elf off to chair a panel on women in the toy industry – yet another dream I didn’t know I had until I harnessed the power of the power suit. This power gave me the confidence to tell a co-worker that she needed to step up her game (as pictured above), despite me in no way having the authority to tell her that.
OK, so maybe I didn't confront anyone, but I did feel like maybe I could speak up a bit more. I kind of understood the psychology behind power dressing.
I wasn’t around in the '80s and I really have no grasp on the era; the shirts were in the wash, so I decided to pair the purple suit jacket with purple polka-dot trousers and purple loafers. Somewhere deep in my subconscious I have associated purple with the '80s – I blame the 1985 film The Color Purple. At lunch I popped to Primark and bought black lace pop socks to wear with my loafers so I would look more '80s. The problem with this look is that it meant my shoes slipped off a lot and twice, TWICE, a man picked my shoe up for me when I was walking upstairs in the train station. This is not the modern-day Cinderella story I was hoping for, but maybe the one I deserved.
In the above photographs you’ll see me pretending to lead a meeting on business, despite the fact I had to google how to spell the word business and honestly I don’t even have a grasp on my own finances. Somehow, photographing my shoe falling off didn’t seem very powerful.
Day Four was the day that I realised I clearly don’t practise self-love enough and should invest in an iron. I basically spent the whole day visualising my mum’s Facebook message of disapproval for when she reads this. Sorry, Mum. I'm not one to dress in all one colour but I actually didn't hate this – it was bright but I felt weirdly cool. After three days of power dressing I felt oddly comfortable dressed fully in jewel green. Crinkled but confident.
In this photo you can see the exact moment the shirt with sewn-in shoulder pads gave me the ability to fathom a plan for world peace (read: desperately trying to look professional while my co-workers wondered what the hell I was doing).
Here I am at my happiest, channelling the one thing I’ve always wanted to be: a Cadbury's Caramel bar. Also, on this day I got told I looked like Emma Stone, which is a complete reach but that compliment has since been the source of all my energy, so I will definitely revisit that look. By this point I was honestly feeling myself and was no longer missing shorter hemlines. I’d stopped feeling like an Ugly Betty cosplayer and more like a powerful woman. I’d not only attained a quiet confidence from dressing outside of my comfort zone, but also gained a pair of sturdy calves from wearing heels all week. This was by far my favourite look. I loved the yellow and the purple skirt together and I'm definitely going to take up the hem a little and wear this again.
What I Learned
– I value an above-the-knee skirt more than I thought I did.
– I care about what I wear and everyone else's opinions on what I wear a lot more than I previously thought.
– You can pretty much wear anything and your colleagues will be like "yasssssssss".
– Those compliments make a big difference to how I feel, and honestly gave me the biggest boost.
– I should add more colour to my wardrobe.
– Dressing powerfully does make you feel more powerful, and I definitely feel more confident in what I wear now.
– Suits are uncomfortable and jumpers were invented for a reason.