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5 Power Dresses and When to Wear Them

March 09, 2018 | Filed in: Your Closet

Part 1 of our Power Play collection was all about suiting: sharp blazers (plus underpinnings), streamlined trousers, and polished skirts. Now, we’re thinking about power in dress form. The power dresses in our new collection include a variety of cuts, colors, and fabrics, but they all make you feel 100% in charge. Read on for five scenarios that call for a certain kind of power look, and shop our collection to find a piece of your own.

1. When power means poise.

The Isabelle dress in brick red.

The situation: “Don’t forget—dinner with my parents tonight!” Your significant other calls as you head out the door on your way to work, stopping you in your tracks.

“Right,” you respond, attempting to conceal the fact that you had completely forgotten.

“And remember, they insist on eating at 6:30.”

And so you find yourself sneaking out of the revenue meeting early and hailing a cab uptown, praying for light traffic. The silver lining: Dinner is always at the in-laws’ neighborhood Italian joint, which happens to be quite delicious. The downside: your tendency to spill is magnified by the preponderance of marinara sauce.

What you need: A dress that shows you’re cool as a cucumber, even when your mother-in-law gives you a look as you order a second glass of wine. Opt for the Isabelle, a timeless piece that combines a formal collar with a playful A-line skirt. Bonus points: It’s machine-washable, and the brick red color can hold all your chicken parm-related secrets.

2. When power means traversing the country at superhuman speed.

The Olivia dress in black.

The situation: You snooze your alarm one too many times, and then gasp as the time flashes across the screen. You’re due at the airport in 30 minutes. You go into full-on sprint mode, tossing toiletries into your suitcase and sprinting to your car. By some miracle, you make it to the gate in time, boarding just before the doors close.

Settling into your seat, you pull out your laptop to review your presentation notes (you’ll be speaking on your first-ever panel), only to be informed by the captain that your flight has been delayed because the plane is “too heavy.” (Yes, that’s a thing.)

Hours later, you arrive at the conference directly from the airport, feeling frazzled but looking on-point. The panel audience is bigger than you’d expected, and all eyes are on you as you settle into your seat. Action time.

What you need: An outfit that can hold its own at 30,000 feet and in front of a no-nonsense audience. The Olivia, an elegant, jacket-inspired dress that inspires confidence and projects authority, is your secret weapon.

3. When power means playing your cool card.

The Nikita dress in rainforest.

The situation: In an effort to streamline your calendar, you’ve strategized by loading all of your appointments into a single day. The problem, you realize as you scan through your schedule, is that this means navigating multiple environments. How do you choose a look that will go from a coffee date with your mentee, to a dentist appointment, to a charity luncheon you don’t remember RSVP-ing to, to a client meeting, and then to your kid’s swim meet?

What you need: A relaxed, comfortable dress that can withstand lying down in the dentist’s chair, but look just as sharp as you argue your point across the conference table. The ever-cool Nikita is just the thing, thanks to its loose silhouette, flattering tie at the waist, and high-low hem that will be sure to impress your fashion-forward mentee.

4. When power means confidence.

The Jeanette dress in brick red.

The situation: It’s 10:17 a.m., precisely 13 minutes before you’re due for an interview. You’re trying not to get too excited, but it’s tough—it is your dream job, after all. Comfortably stationed at the Starbucks across the street, you sip your coffee and mentally review your notes (again). Applying for this role was a huge leap, not to mention a major time commitment. When you received the email invitation to come in for an interview, you promptly broke into a celebratory jig. You want this job bad.

What you need: A sophisticated, no-nonsense outfit that lets you do the talking. The streamlined Jeanette checks all the boxes—and keeps you warm while doing so, thanks to its relaxed sleeves. Bonus points: Our tried-and-true mélange fabric has enough stretch to allow for pre-interview power posing—or whatever it takes to calm those nerves.

5. When power means faking it.

The Suzanne dress in morse code.

The situation: Your phone rings just as your alarm goes off—it’s your co-worker in full-fledged panic mode. She’s supposed to lead a workshop on résumé writing at your local university, but she has the flu.

“Can you fill in for me?” she croaks. You quickly agree, realizing only after you hang up that you have no idea how to lead this workshop—since when is your co-worker an expert in résumé writing, anyway? Nevertheless, she sends you a deck and talking points, which you quickly attempt to memorize. Aptly enough, the advice you remember most vividly from your own job searches is right there in the final slide: “Fake it ‘til you make it.”

What you need: A dress that wears multiple hats, just like you do (you are a newly-minted expert in résumé writing, after all). Meet the Suzanne, a polished number that can be worn open as a lightweight trench or closed as a shirtdress. Plus: The subtle-but-punchy print is sure to get the class’s attention.

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Alexandra Johnson is the brand manager at MM.LaFleur, where she started out as a summer intern. Her happy place is the room housing Monet's Water Lilies at MoMA. Read more of Alexandra's posts.

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