As a one-woman business owner and entrepreneur, I’m very aware of the challenges that we women sometimes face when trying to close the gap between being approachable (feminine, authentic, soft, compassionate) and authoritative (strong, powerful, no-nonsense).
This conversation often comes up with my styling clients, because we focus a lot of time on image perception and managing the way we all come across through various style & wardrobe elements. In my one-on-one styling sessions, I focus on teaching my clients how to understand and manipulate style elements to create a unique personal image and wardrobe - that’s equal parts powerful and authentic.
Over the years, I’ve come up with a growing list of styling tricks to have at your disposal that help “turn up the power” in your look when you need it - especially on those days when you have a big event/interview/presentation.
This list is especially handy if you naturally come across as someone who is very open and approachable but crave to be taken more seriously and want to dress in way that’s more polished and authoritative.
Check out 5 of my favorite tips below:
Swap out curved necklines for straight in your tops and blazers.
One of the style ingredients at our disposal is the element of line. Lines appear in our faces and bodies naturally (eye line, eyebrow line, face shape line, hip line, waist line, etc.). Straight/strong/vertical lines come across as more authoritative and they can significantly increase the power quotient of your outfit.
In one example, wearing a blouse with a slight v-neckline and pairing it with a blazer with angular lapels will accentuate the angles of your facial features and send the message of confidence.
Choose dark, contrasting colors over light and muted ones.
Color is another style element that affects the way we’re perceived by others. Dark and contrasting colors add authoritativeness to your look as they read as stronger and more pulled-together (and more masculine). If you have very fair features with little to no contrast, then the true black (jet black) might feel too harsh, so go for a grayish black or dark brown.
Wearing your hair pulled back or straight.
Straight hair sends the message of authority (and hair is one of the easiest details to change up in your look). Pulling your hair back or up (in a tall bun or ponytail) can add a touch of polish and will also expose any angularity your face might have, like a strong jaw or nose. Curls and waves, while girly and fun, can read too approachable – so saving those for your every-day look and going for more height/straightness will add the needed confidence boost on your “power days”. If your hair is naturally very curly and straightening it is not easy, pulling it back into a bun will do the trick.
Heels versus flats.
We all know that flats are comfortable, but It’s amazing how much a few inches can help you in the confidence department. Heels make you walk differently – balancing your body straighter and taller, pulling all the outfit elements together. Additionally, heels physically give you more height, so especially if you’re on the petite side, this gives you more authority through the power of strong/vertical line.
Column of Color Effect:
Dina Scherer with a client by Rachel Doughty
This is one of the biggest secrets in the stylist tool box. The idea of a “column of color” is that you create an outfit of similar shades/tones from head to toe with no obvious harsh color break (like the point where your red top and green pants meet, for example). Wearing all black is one example, but you can also achieve this by combining similar shades of any one color in one outfit. This effect elongates your figure while simultaneously adding height because it keeps the eye moving up and down, not having it stop on any color break. It can also eliminate many proportion challenges (like ending a hemline in a place where it cuts you in an unflattering way), and makes your look pulled-together and professional.
Hope you have fun playing around with these style suggestions, incorporating them into your look and feeling your outfit power turning up!
To see more of my styling tips & fashion inspirations, follow me on Instagram.
Women in the workplace have always experienced a certain degree of discrimination from male colleagues, and according to new studies, it appears that it is becoming even more difficult for women to get acclimated to modern day work environments, in wake of the #MeToo Movement.
In a recent study conducted by LeanIn.org, in partnership with SurveyMonkey, 60% of male managers confessed to feeling uncomfortable engaging in social situations with women in and outside of the workplace. This includes interactions such as mentorships, meetings, and basic work activities. This statistic comes as a shocking 32% rise from 2018.
What appears the be the crux of the matter is that men are afraid of being accused of sexual harassment. While it is impossible to discredit this fear as incidents of wrongful accusations have taken place, the extent to which it has burgeoned is unacceptable. The #MeToo movement was never a movement against men, but an empowering opportunity for women to speak up about their experiences as victims of sexual harassment. Not only were women supporting one another in sharing to the public that these incidents do occur, and are often swept under the rug, but offered men insight into behaviors and conversations that are typically deemed unwelcomed and unwarranted.
Restricting interaction with women in the workplace is not a solution, but a mere attempt at deflecting from the core issue. Resorting to isolation and exclusion relays the message that if men can't treat women how they want, then they rather not deal with them at all. Educating both men and women on what behaviors are unacceptable while also creating a work environment where men and women are held accountable for their actions would be the ideal scenario. However, the impact of denying women opportunities of mentorship and productive one-on-one meetings hinders growth within their careers and professional networks.
Women, particularly women of color, have always had far fewer opportunities for mentorship which makes it impossible to achieve growth within their careers without them. If women are given limited opportunities to network in and outside of a work environment, then men must limit those opportunities amongst each other, as well. At the most basic level, men should be approaching female colleagues as they would approach their male colleagues. Striving to achieve gender equality within the workplace is essential towards creating a safer environment.
While restricted communication and interaction may diminish the possibility of men being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment, it creates a hostile
environment that perpetuates women-shaming and victim-blaming. Creating distance between men and women only prompts women to believe that male colleagues who avoid them will look away from or entirely discredit sexual harassment they experience from other men in the workplace. This creates an unsafe working environment for both parties where the problem at hand is not solved, but overlooked.
According to LeanIn's study, only 85% of women said they feel safe on the job, a 5% drop from 2018. In the report, Jillesa Gebhardt wrote, "Media coverage that is intended to hold aggressors accountable also seems to create a sense of threat, and people don't seem to feel like aggressors are held accountable." Unfortunately, only 16% of workers believed that harassers holding high positions are held accountable for their actions which inevitably puts victims in difficult, and quite possibly dangerous, situations. 50% of workers also believe that there are more repercussions for the victims than harassers when speaking up.
In a research poll conducted by Edison Research in 2018, 30% of women agreed that their employers did not handle harassment situations properly while 53% percent of men agreed that they did. Often times, male harassers hold a significant amount of power within their careers that gives them a sense of security and freedom to go forward with sexual misconduct. This can be seen in cases such as that of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. Men in power seemingly have little to no fear that they will face punishment for their actions.
Source-Alex Brandon, AP
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook executive and founder of LeanIn.org., believes that in order for there to be positive changes within work environments, more women should be in higher positions. In an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin, Sandberg stated, "you know where the least sexual harassment is? Organizations that have more women in senior leadership roles. And so, we need to mentor women, we need to sponsor women, we need to have one-on-one conversations with them that get them promoted." Fortunately, the number of women in leadership positions are slowly increasing which means the prospect of gender equality and safer work environments are looking up.
Despite these concerning statistics, Sandberg does not believe that movements such as the Times Up and Me Too movements, have been responsible for the hardship women have been experiencing in the workplace. "I don't believe they've had negative implications. I believe they're overwhelmingly positive. Because half of women have been sexually harassed. But the thing is it is not enough. It is really important not to harass anyone. But that's pretty basic. We also need to not be ignored," she stated. While men may be feeling uncomfortable, putting an unrealistic amount of distance between themselves and female coworkers is more harmful to all parties than it is beneficial. Men cannot avoid working with women and vice versa. Creating such a hostile environment is also detrimental to any business as productivity and communication will significantly decrease.
The fear or being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment is a legitimate fear that deserves recognition and understanding. However, restricting interactions with women in the workplace is not a sensible solution as it can have negatively impact a woman's career. Companies are in need of proper training and resources to help both men and women understand what is appropriate workplace behavior. Refraining from physical interactions, commenting on physical appearance, making lewd or sexist jokes and inquiring about personal information are also beneficial steps towards respecting your colleagues' personal space. There is still much work to be done in order to create safe work environments, but with more and more women speaking up and taking on higher positions, women can feel safer and hopefully have less contributions to make to the #MeToo movement.