Power dressing gives professionals an air of authority & competency

First impressions count

Power Dressing for Management Jobs

Power dressing is for real. It is not lost on anyone including your recruiter. Our recommendation on this topic today is: be a power dresser and impress headhunters for management jobs!   First impression is indeed the last impression in many cases. For a quick snapshot on why being a power dresser is important, we share some insights from headhunters on this topic.

The idea that one can dress for success is closely aligned to the more general notion of “impression management,” the origins of which go back to the work of sociologist Erving Goffman and his dramaturgical metaphor (the idea that the social world functions like a stage and we, its social actors, are performers).

Power dressing refers to a style of clothing and hair intended to make wearers seem authoritative and competent, especially in professional settings. While references to the style apply more typically to women, the look is the same for both sexes: medium-length parted hair (trimmed on the back and sides for men); dark, conservative, usually matching trousers and jacket (sometimes a long skirt for women); and bold, colorful “accents,” such as ties, kerchiefs, or brooches.

The 1970s books “Dress for Success” and “The Women’s Dress for Success Book” first popularized the concept of power dressing. Back then, the notion referred to the use of expensive clothes with sharp, hard lines that were destined to make people look assertive and angular. But it was Coco Chanel who first radically transformed 20th-century women’s wardrobes – redefining the way women dress forever. She laid the foundations for the feminized but still rigorous version of a tailored suit that was later adopted by women all over the world – from the neat skirt suits to the jackets and coats.

Even today, the concept is still very much alive as we live in a world of appearances – It’s all about looking the part and projecting the right image. It’s about wearing what makes you feel good about yourself, display your best features, and make a statement all at the same time. It’s as much about bold and colorful accents as it is about comfort.

Tips: Be a power dresser and impress headhunters for management jobs

  1. Pick out your clothes the night before, making sure they are well-ironed and free of wrinkles.
  2. Always pay attention to personal hygiene. Remember that a fresh body image reflects a clean professional image as well.
  3. Be appropriate in your corporate dressing. Always dress for the weather. Fabrics like silk and cashmere make for some great office wear.
  4. Choose shirts that don’t crease easily.
  5. Comfortable leather pumps in black, brown, and burgundy make for some great office wear. Make sure your shoes are properly shined.
  6. Tie up your hair in a neat ponytail, or pull it up with a clip.
  7. Accessorize: Adding a well-fitted blazer instantly smartens any outfit. Cufflinks and tiepins are always noticed. Wear a white folded handkerchief in your breast pocket. Carry a leather wallet, and wear an elegant watch.
  8. Don’t mistake power dressing for masculine clothing.
  9. Style is nothing without fit. Your professional clothes should fit you like a glove so that they complement your shape, scale, and proportion.
  10. Mixing too many colors or prints is a no-no.
  11. Keep the makeup minimal (read “subtle”).
  12. Keep your body language confident and composed.
  13. Create your own signature look: People not only differ in their looks, but also in their personalities. Don’t try to be someone else or fill someone else’s shoes; instead make your mark by working out what works for you.

Real power dressing is about standing out from the crowd, so that your professional look is current, and presents an image of effortlessness, freshness, and the idea that you are up to speed and able to cope with whatever is thrown your way. The definitions of what a power dress is have changed over time, but there is no doubt that wearing clothes one feels are the best makes one feel confident, and that’s a good condition to be in when you’re meeting a headhunter for an interview!

“Clothes maketh the man” – There is nothing worse than wearing nice clothes and keeping them unkempt. The minute you look untidy, people will associate your appearance with your state of mind, your work ethic, and see it as disrespectful to your coworkers, companies, and clients. Look groomed and people will like being associated with you; don’t and people will keep their distance. If you give the impression of being someone who pays attention to details when you dress, it indicates that you will do the same within your profession and give the little extra attention needed when the situation arises.


What do headhunters pay attention to in the candidates appearance?

Rebecca Schween, Worldkonnect: It has been found in multiple researches that over 50% of another person’s perception is based on appearance. Appearance is crucial and many well-known articles have been written about the importance of first impressions and the first 30 seconds of an encounter. For me, it is important that a candidate dresses the way they would dress for an interview: Smart and conservative business attire, polished shoes, conservative make up and jewelry (where applicable).

Werner Schmidt, Harvey NashWe also pay attention to the classics: appearance, clothing, body language, conversational behavior, the interest in a position, preparation for the interview etc.

Clive Green, Kellergreen consultingThere is obviously a need for a candidate to be presentable, but the main thing is to ensure they will fit in culturally with the role you are proposing them for.  We work with a major US brand and if a candidate turns up in a suit that is probably going to be the end of the interview! If a candidate does dress a certain way it is important to notice how they would normally approach a meeting and advise them accordingly.


Finally, relax. Remember that power dressing is nothing but dressing in a way that you think is comfortable, stylish, authoritative, and that you feel confident in. The key is to impress headhunters for management jobs – so it’s fair to put your best foot, uh, dress on!



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