The Power Suit

In the interest of resuming work, and getting down to business once again, both personally and for the many who have been impacted by the current economic depression, I offer this new installment of DASHEEN called Resume Work.

This one hopes to lead and aid in your ownership of your life’s work.

At this point, we should all be aware that it’s not about how good you look on paper. Whether you are of the functional, chronological, combination, targeted or even CV (Curriculum Vitae) crowd, it can all feel like a crap shoot.

If you are a person interested in climbing someone’s ladder, well on your way, have been summarily released (fired, laid off etc) from ladder-climbing duties, actively looking and pursuing job offers or you an entrepreneur or as I prefer a passion-preneur, everyone who is an individual with a hustle should have a Power Suit!

What is a Power Suit: A power suit for my money has always been about superb tailoring that gives the confident man/woman who wears it an aura that is an indelible and unmistakable first and lasting impression!

A Power Suit is about CONFIDENCE, which is not akin to arrogance. Much like a perfect signature scent, this CONFIDENCE should herald your arrival. It signals that you are here and your purpose is to leave your mark.

A more studious definition:

A power suit is a conservative tailored suit worn by men or women to project a sense of self-confidence and authority. The phrase came about in the 1980s, when a big-shouldered, dark-colored suit was the norm for anyone who wanted to be taken seriously in the business world.

So there’s some history there, but I’m not interested in evoking images of Wall Street and/or congressional types and the men and women making up the ranks. The current height of joblessness and workers apathy requires a definite more focused and individualized approach.

The word nondescript comes to mind when I think about all the good advice given for dressing to interview. “Dressing” lends itself to the food world with much more aptitude that when applied as a descriptor of who you want to be on this journey. It doesn’t speak to your style or your vibe or what you uniquely want to bring to the table.

My take-away from all the how-to-dress-for-the-job-you-want advice over the years has been: If I have to dress like a clichéd idea of an accountant, then I simply wouldn’t be applying.

My thinking again here: While I know I could represent a first-rate, stellar version of myself, I could not and would not do justice to someone else.  Obviously this theory only holds water, if you’re NOT applying for an accounting or acting role.

You see, I am convinced that even in these hard times, the career/job/venture hunt should also not be about a pack mentality. And, I am very well aware that the experience of many as they’ve gone through the job-hunt-ringer, has been that of the mass interview. However, especially there, you need to excel at being an individual, and even a bit of a rebel.

Truth and experience says you must be virtually everywhere to win an audience with someone or anyone.  Woody Allen says that “80% of life is showing up”  That is some divinity right there. It is nothing but the truth! You and your power suit need to show up!

The Power Suit is ready and willing to become the live conduit between YOU and that audience.

Your Power Suit should:

  • Define you to the point where putting it on any other shoulders renders it mute, and causes it to be ill-fitting. This is the YOU filling out that suit.
  • Remind you of who you are at the core and why you are here (there) in the first place.
  • ALWAYS get you at the very least an audience.

BOTTOM LINE: Your Power Suit is your NEW RESUME and your NEW ATTITUDE.

I hope some are cheering right now.  I know it’s been hard on so many levels for so many, but not to worry, your style session follows:


You have lots of room for play and color.

Your suit starts with a full evaluation of your body, wherever you’re at. Too often we wear a suit whose silhouette not only has nothing to do with who we really are, but does nothing complimentary for the body we live in. I love MyShape as my personal body cheat sheet. Give them a look-see.

Where are your seams hitting? Would you shine in a princess seam? A more boxy pro­file, a peplum design? What about a light trench-style?

What about the waist of your pants? Are they hit­ting you at the most flat­ter­ing point? Can you pull off a high-waisted trouser?

Don’t limit your­self or your options. In fact, you might consider deconstructing that pant or skirt suit totally and/or opt for a dress instead.  I happen to think that there is nothing more powerful on a woman than a well tailored sheath.

Psyche's Sheath Style

Psyche's Sheath Stylings

The lines of a sheath has universal appeal, and please know that one hitting you just below the knee to about mid calf will pay dividends.

Black is always wonderful and powerful all on it’s own, but consider one in jewel tones along the lines of deep aubergine, garnet, sapphire etc. And if you must do black, consider one that is one-shouldered or bandeau if appropriate, since all will be pulled together with a jacket and/or I’m almost nervous to say a cardigan with substance (something Chanel-inspired comes to mind).

Still needing inspiration, check out the lovely Psyche (pictured above), over at Economy of Style who does wonders with a sheath dress! Her closet choices hit all the high points of well-loved, individualized power dressing.

If you have now figured out the jacket shape that suits, then you have a game changer on your hands. But ah, this is only a beginning, let’s consider shoes.

Instead of a functional pump, why not a functional peep-toe pump or slingback with a fresh manicure on display. This shoe doesn’t have to be beyond 2 inches even. Just a smidge of height and the opportunity to add some color, even an irreverent one will set you on the path.

At the very least, you’ll have a mood elevator for when you look down and take that final breath before going in to get your job!

I’ll leave the hosiery decisions to you. My feelings—freshly shaven legs with a little glowing lotion or a light application of gelled oil will establish things nicely.

And I would never, ever tell a woman what to do with her hair, but rather offer a small suggestion: Think 40’s, 50’s glam in the way of a chignon (off to the side).

A smart watch, some interesting & meaningful studs, a clean, naturally made up face, specifically leaning toward a nude (bronzy or skin-tone) or a punchy matte lip (I’m feeling Revlon’s Matte Line) or stain. With a barely there made-up face, a slight wing on the liner plays to beautiful advantage and adds positive interest.  If there must be gloss, center it in the middle and keep it there.



While I would love to see you all pivoting in some Ozwald Boateng, I understand that you need the job first, but that the environment may not be all the way inclusion to this kind of hit parade.  But there are some takeaways from Sir Boateng’s take on Saville Rowe.

No longer should you relegate yourself to the domains of Black, Navy, Grey or Brown. Now the call here isn’t to abandon. We are only re-imagining your suit here, not deconstructing as we suggested above with the ladies.

Think texture that could go anywhere from suede to linen. I pause at seersucker, but then again the power suit is not just about the Corporate right (or left).  It’s exclusively about generating confidence.

Think sheen that is all of a subtle shine. I read somewhere that such a suit makes a man look lively, vigorous and virile. I can dig that, so I imagine that you can too.

Think a graduation of color that is ombré going from a lighter jacket to a dark pant in the same color family. Be unconventional and take it in the other direction—light on the bottom and dark on top.

Think a thicker pinstripe. And oh yes, you can and should wear a pinstripe suit during the hunt!

If you remain shy on any of the above, consider a punchy (color) shirt or tie. In the latter, a Windsor knot with a bit more flair or even a skinnier tie would not be inappropriate.

Watch your proportions with everything, your jacket should not hit your kneecaps (not the venue) and the hem of that pants will thank you if it can just brush the arch of your shoe. If you are ankle grazing, then my expectations are that that pant is slim streamlined.

Serious note: Your movement should never be impeded by a power suit.

Patent leather shoes would be nice touch. The high shine and intensity is sure to bring a modicum of attention. Are you ready for it?

Cuff-links are not necessary, but would add a serious, deliberate edge. I’m telling you as a friend to go for it!

I won’t tell you what to do with your hair. A clean Caesar. Twisted up. Fro-ed out. Dreads pulled off the face and held in queue at back. A sleek or tousled do. Do your do!

And I know you have a statement watch so get it set, ready and go.

I would caution the wearing of any other statement jewelry other than the optional cuff-links though.

From head to toe all things must be considered in the makings of Power Suit. Remember, it’s not about any brand, it’s about YOUR BRAND! And I hope you are developing it.  For now your mission is to WOW them!


The Power Suit is also a power trip. Beyond the trimmings, it is also about a positive, proactive, power-game. You must absolutely believe your own hype. After all, the suit does not make the man or woman. It only aids in the flight.

Feature Slider Photo Credit:  Street Etiquette

[author] [author_image timthumb=’off’]http://dasheenmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Blowing-in-the-wind-Bio.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Hi there, I’m Tynisha Leon, writer, mango-lover, founder and Editor-in-Chief of DASHEEN magazine — the online destination where Culture. Feeds. Imagination! If you seek to inno­vate, pro­mote and/or contribute to posi­tioning a Caribbean peo­ple and gen­er­a­tion most positively then link me! Bless! [/author_info] [/author]

6 Responses to The Power Suit

  1. Power Suits make all interviews worth it! LOL … I better get my shoe game up though!

    • Yes girl, you always wear a beautiful pop of color on those toes, now go get you some kitten heels in a peep-toe of course, and let them hear you roar! lol

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  3. Fabulous post! Thanks for the mention.

    I totally agree with your points on what a power suit should do. I take it even further by saying that all our outfits communicate messages to the world. At times, we even communicate things we are unaware of.

    • You are so right Psyche. It really does go back to first impressions, because you never know who is watching or if you will ever have another opportunity at it.

      Thanks for adding to the thoughts here!

  4. Tynisha, what a divine perspective on Power Suits..! The resources you have pulled together and elaborated on have given me renewed vigor on style within my profession. Being an attorney demands class, rather than dullness – and I hope to take some of your wisdom with me on my Spring shopping.
    Much love!

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