“You think I don’t know what rouge can do for bone structure?” Priscilla Garrick, a civil servant in 1940s Britain is questioning her underling, Feef Symonds, for attracting the wrong kind of attention — the kind that distracts men and destroys potential. With her pinned-up hair and unflattering grey power suit, she is determined to be twice as good as the men are. It’s the only way to survive in a traitorous world that is recovering from a war and heading into another.
A lot has changed since 1945. So much has still remained the same. Women still need to be twice as good. In many roles, their choices about their personal lives and their wardrobes are scrutinized and judged as incompatible with their aspirations. In an increasing number of roles, thankfully, they get to make those choices authentically. Michelle Obama has experienced both worlds. She did great under scrutiny, but we are more excited about what she gets to do without it. And we learnt a thing of two about power dressing. It’s unapologetically bold, authentically individual, and at once consistent and dynamic
1. Unapologetically bold
The modern power suit need not be grey, unflattering, or structurally rigid. Michelle Obama’s interpretation is rich in bold and jewel tones. The cuts are deliberate, sometimes structured, other times light and draping, yet always capable of projecting both authority and femininity.
2. Authentically individual
They are just suits, but when she wears them, they become Her suits. From pairing her tall frame with monochromatic styling and strappy heels, to accessorizing lightly with brooches and beautiful earrings, Michelle Obama’s suits are elevated beyond their suitedness, to her individual style.
3. Consistent yet dynamic
A possibility exists for complacency once one has developed a personal style that feels authentic and comfortable. The trick is to balance personal style with novel cuts and ensembles — the glittering balenciaga boots that added an element of sensation to her usual monochromatic power silhouettes, the off-shoulder jumpsuit cuts that switched up the power suit, the cropped blazer that made the usual power suits just a little bit more fashion-forward. . .