FMP Photography: Power Dressing Mini-shoot


In definition, power dressing is the concept of using clothing to imitate the idea of wealth and authority. The trend in fashion captures the zeitgeist of the late 70s and into the 80s for emerging businessmen, politicians and formal industry employees.

The concept enforces the perception of authority and wealth and on a deeper level could also be depicted as a disguise for vulnerability within business.

Throughout history, confidence has been the factor to lead nations and despite an obvious lack of clarity in decisions, all successful leaders would have utilised their image (well dressed and seemingly collected) to gain fortification.

Following this idea arises the tactic of using fashion to inflict control in leadership. Whether this be in a democracy or dictatorship – undoubtedly it’s a fact that both historical and modern day rulers utilise the high value of their appearance to either gain a supporting or instil fear, for maximising their influence over a party.

Furthermore, it was my intention to experiment with both modern and vintage garments. Interestingly, the combination of old and new attire allowed me to create two contrasting looks – which surprisingly complimented one another in shape and attitude.

I wanted to exercise the concept of setting a tone through Power Dressing and therefore decided to style outfits, which I felt represent power and authority in the juxtaposing location of a friends bedroom. I surprised myself with the effectiveness of the outcomes considering the limited availability to resources. The first outfit was a gold, satin, pinafore style shift dress. The bold statement colour juxtaposed with the femininity of the satin pinafore was really powerful in itself, while the golden hues could be representative of royalty or high levels of authority. Interestingly the dress was of a ‘miniature’ length which typically wouldn’t be seen on a female figure of power which thus challenges the perception of modern day rule.

As shown, some of the photos are seen to have been styled with a belt whereas others allow the shift shape of the dress to speak for itself. I experimented with the belt because of the stark contrast between the two pieces. The belt is heavy, industrial and entirely inappropriate for the theme of power Dressing, yet the dress is light, feminine and still contextually inappropriate – revealing just how specific societal views are on ‘dressing to impress’.

In converse, the second outfit that I put together was a black vintage, tailored suit belonging to a member of my family. I had asked to browse the wardrobes of a selection of people however once I’d set my eyes on it – I knew the suit represented exactly what I was intent on expressing.

In physical quality the two piece is really well put together. The fabric was a heavy wool blend with neat binding running down the outer leg seams.

The jacket (complimentary to the trousers in fabric and design) incorporated shoulder pads to withhold a firm structure in conjunction with the demanding weight of the wool. The sleeves were of a suitable length – not too long! While the collars laid flat for a professional finish.

Immaculate in detail and precise in design the suit, to me, was the epitome of class and made for a perfectly adequate representation of authority. Furthermore I accessorised the suit with the chunky, black industrial belt – for specifically a modern twist. Cinching in the waist touches upon the transition of women into both the workplace and places of authority and leadership. It additionally juxtaposes the idea of hiding shape, conversely manipulating the former appearance to bring it forward into the modern day. Rather than using this suit to disguise what is already prominent, the belt enables the wearer to accentuate her shape and thus use it as a force of power in itself.

I wanted the makeup minimal and the hair tied back in a low ponytail for a professional appearance. Further to this, the priority of the shoot was to showcase the garments in styling and photography therefore I didn’t want to experiment too much within other fields. Perhaps in future, make up and hair is something I can look into however for this shoot specifically, it was not so important. See outcomes below.

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