For women at the top of their fields, the days of taking sartorial cues from the old boys' club are long gone. Women in power are leaning into their femininity and looking more put together than ever in a power dress - the antithesis of the power suit.Share
Rather than armor women with shoulder pads and pants to match the men on the playing field, it conveys power by explicitly pointing out the wearer's gender and elevating it as a celebrated asset, rather than a handicap to be masked in garb traditionally worn by men. Yahoo's CEO Marissa Mayer and Facebook's COO Sheryl Sandberg are the most notable examples of the power dress trend, both often seen in elegant, form-fitting knee-length dresses and pumps.
It's a trend that's growing, with more women choosing a relaxed, wool Donna Karan dress or a floral Betsey Johnson frock rather than a pantsuit. The latest iteration of the power dress is one that captures so accurately and chicly the personality of the wearer, you'd think she was off to meet friends for dinner later in the day.
"I love wearing bright colors and unique textures," said Goodby, Silverstein & Partners' Creative Director Kate Catalinac. Her favorite designers include Temperley London, Kate Spade, Burberry Prorsum and Diane von Furstenberg, as well as designers from her native New Zealand such as Trelise Cooper, Kate Sylvester and Karen Walker, who tend to design dresses with sheer elements and ladylike fine prints.
"Femininity does not equal frivolity," Catalinac said. "But as long as we apologize for it and hide it in the workplace, it will forever be seen as a weakness."
Early in her career, Catalinac was told by some female colleagues that she won't be taken seriously if she dressed "too girly" for work, especially given her position - in the ad world, just 3 percent of creative directors are women, according to Fast Company magazine. "If you're willing to instantly change yourself just to second-guess the people around you, perhaps you shouldn't be taken seriously ... I respect my colleagues, but I'm not cross-dressing for anyone," Catalinac said. (Read more.)