Women are said to take up less physical space than men – and therefore leave a more neutral or demure impression – in business meetings and other professional settings.
This issue of taking up less space can be resolved, in part, by emulating our male counterparts. Specifically, sitting upright in our chairs, spreading out our documents and files on the table in front of us, and using a powerful, affirmative voice are great ways to expand the amount of physical space we use.
But, taking up physical space can also be resolved by dressing boldly, with strength and confidence, while still observing all of the conservative norms that the legal field requires.
Here is a three-step mantra for dressing boldly at the office, leaving no mistake that you are a force to be reckoned with.
It’s called a power suit for a reason. While in ultra-conservative settings women are generally advised to wear skirts, when it’s time to make that gender-aside impression, a full pantsuit is key. Choose a bold color (a navy pinstripe, such as this one from J.Crew, is a great choice) and make sure it is perfectly tailored.
Opt for a wide-leg to give the impression of a strong, grounded stance (think Angelina Jolie on the red carpet – she stands with her legs about a foot apart as if to say, “I’m here and I’m not going anywhere”). A great pair of high heels will serve you well under a pantsuit, too. If the pant is tailored correctly, only a half-inch of the heel will show – the remaining three and a half inches are your secret weapon!
While you will want to take care to wear a shell or blouse under your suit that is conservative and professional (read: nothing low cut, sleeveless, or otherwise provocative), a well-designed, intricately tailored top in a strong color will bring you – and your professional contributions – to the forefront. A red scalloped silk top under a navy suit, for example this one from Loft, or a deep green ruffled top paired with a grey suit would be perfect choices to reflect that you are confident, self-assured, and in it for the long haul.
Often we refer to the statement necklace as a way to be fashion forward but appropriate in a professional setting. In meetings and other instances where we are speaking to a group of people, gesticulating here and there is a great way to emphasize certain things and to deliver key points in a powerful way.
If you are wearing a tasteful statement bracelet, this will put a point on your gesticulating. It serves as an anchor, of sorts, to make you memorable and unique. Opt for something large and brightly colored, or consider layering several delicate bracelets to create a statement piece of your own. Cuff bracelets are a great option for the professional female, such as this Ivory Pearl Cuff from BaubleBar. While your jewelry should never be a distraction, a statement bracelet is the perfect way to reveal a little something about who you are. The more people get to know you, the more they care about what you have to say.