The “suit effect” or how to look confident and powerful in clothes

by Barbara

How to look confident and powerful in clothes |

I believe in the empowering effect of clothes. Both for yourself as well as for making a desired impression on others. So does Florenza. In this guest article she will explore the suit effect and how clothes can change your life. Enjoy!

I have always wandered why women in the movies look so self-confident.

Do you remember Meryl Streep in “The Devil Wears Prada”, where she interprets the middle-aged editor-in-chief of the most popular fashion magazine in the world? She just looks perfectly in control and, whenever she speaks, her words are trusted and sometimes terribly feared.

Perhaps you are thinking that this only happens in movies and that reality is quite different.

Then, I personally experienced Vogue’s editor-in-chief at a fashion show.

I was at Milan Fashion Week for the Spring Summer 2015 season with a pass for Versace’s show. When I entered the exhibition hall, it was crowded, people coming and going, journalists and editors looking for their seats.

The show was about to start, but the catwalk was still dark and nothing seemed to happen.

Then Anna Wintour made her entrance and took her seat, the lights went down, the music started and the magic began.

Anna Wintour is a powerful woman indeed. But what if we could “steal” a bit of her allure to get instant respect from others and grow our self-confidence?

What if we could add a bit of her authority in our everyday life?

You may be surprised to know that it may not take more than an outfit improvement!

Research has shown that we often judge a book by its cover… so why not change that cover! Authority clothes are often suits. Take some inspiration from Anna Wintour’s dress-code.

how to dress like Anna Wintour |

Outfit formula

  • Wear a dress and a blazer or pants and blazer
  • combine them tastefully
  • keep the outfit simple and sleek and
  • you’ll get what I call the “suit effect”.

Now imagine yourself entering the most elegant shop of your town. How do you think you would be welcomed? How much attention would you get from the clerk?

Experts say much more than if you would wear an ordinary outfit.

This theory stems from the fact that we tend to give much more attention to people wearing uniforms. We instantly perceive those people as authoritative, and we are more likely to act upon their requests or agree with them.

The ”suit effect” is a tremendous way to get something you want with less effort

As an example, imagine the shopping situation just described, the clerk will be more accommodating and helpful with you. She will likely suggest you the prettiest things in the shop and not just the most expensive ones..!

This is just an example, but imagine how being approached like this can actually make you feel special, and grow your self-confidence.

Starting small and making little changes to your outfit can lead to great benefits over time. Ultimately it could change your life!

how to look powerful with clothes |

Have you ever tried the “suit effect”? What is your strategy to feel more confident and powerful?


Anna Fiorenza is a thirty-something Italian style lover, founder of the blog FemaleJungle. She believes in the life-changing power of style and clothes, for the connection they have with our self-perception and confidence. To get more tips on how to empower your working wardrobe and your life, sign up to her free email updates.

Related posts:

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Accidental Icon

What a great post and so how clothing can project an aura of power. Actually there is research that backs up everything you are saying and I talk about in my post “Grey Matters”.
What we wear can actually change our brain and how we attend and perform, so if you want to be as powerful as fashion editors be aware of what you are thinking when you wear a piece of clothing.
Accidental Icon



Hi Accidental Icon,
You may not remember me, but I wrote you on twitter last week to compliment you for the strong personality you have and put into your blog, so it’s a real pleasure for me to have my guest post commented by you!
I think that, as women, we should focus on being style strategist more than fashion victims. Style and fashion are a great resource in order to communicate our personality and improve our self-confidence, so we should learn to use them at our advantage!
Much love -Fiore-



Interesting article and fabulous outfit!


Jodie filogomo

I so agree!!!



I recently experienced this effect when I dressed up deliberately to return nine dresses I had bought online. On occasion in the past I have been treated rather flippantly by young salespersons when returning items. This time I swept into the store feeling absolutely confident, was greeted instantly by all three sales persons present, and completed my returns easily and pleasantly. Thank you for this timely post!



To be confident and to show it to the world is a matter of inside power ,and should come from inside and not from what you wear.That is the huge problem with our snob world ,because people tend to “see” you through your clothes,and we let that happen. I saw many “smart attire” wearing women who seemed smart only when they were silent…Once they have opened their mouth,it was a huge intellectual disaster.
So,don’t let people judge by what you wear. I don’t say that you should wear ripped jeans to your work,but in places like shops,you should not wear something “smart” just to make them attentive .



Although that would be true in the ideal world (that we are judged for our inside) in the real world that often does not happen. Often initial judgements are made on appearance. I don’t see this changing any time soon and whether you like it or not, clothing and grooming will have an influence on how people perceive you…..


Greetje Kamminga

I got this down to a T, haha. And yes I have “worked the crowd” in my days. With presentations they say: 20% is content and 80% is presentation/appearance. If I have to achieve a goal, I will definitely think about the best way to dress. And yes it helps.
It does not help you to be loved by anyone, but that is for other moments and other days.



I agree Greetje. And no, you will never be loved by everyone, as you will never be able to please everyone. I learned that lesson a long time ago….


kay kerns

This article speaks the truth….we are judged by our appearance. I try to dress so I feel confident, and as long as the clothes are comfortable this works out ok. If I’m in dressy stiff or uncomfortable things the effect is negated. I like that plaid sweater/coat in your examples. Actually in the colder months a decently tailored coat THAT FITS would do the trick most of the time. 🙂



You’re right Kay, feeling confident is the first step to get a positive mindset, take control and manage situations. Since everything in life depends on how we see it and on how we feel about it, little strategies that give us confidence can really help!



This would make an interesting gender discussion. Do men have to ‘power dress’ also to get respect? Personally, I never do. Then again, I have never had to return nine suits at one time. lol



I think the point is valid for both sexes. I know that my (very casual) husband makes a point of looking the part when he has an important presentation or wants to get a new client…

Another discussion though is whether men are JUDGED similarly to women for their clothes and there the answer is a resounding NO. A male presenter for a popular daily show in Australia wore the same suit for an entire year! Noone noticed or commented. His female colleague however, who wore something different every day, received constant criticism!



I totally agree!



I read about the presenter who wore the same suit Sylvia! I agree that you do get treated differently if you are power dressed and I have certainly used this myself on many, many occasions at work and doing presentations.



This post is exactly about where I am in my life right now… I’m doing a major overhaul of my wardrobe and hair to polish my image as I’m seeking work after a year-long hiatus. And blogging it, of course!

As a plus-size woman, I face additional challenges… especially size discrimination. So I figure that I need to be even more polished that is typical of female attorneys in my rural area, to “compensate” for my size. My other major challenge has a lack of professional wear that fits my frame, but Lane Bryant actually has decent suit separates that are ideal for me… first time this has happened since I gained weight over the last seven years.

I read an interesting post by researcher/author/blogger John T. Molloy about how female professionals need to keep the jacket on, as removing it leads to a shift in perception from “professional” to “support staff”. That’s a bit of a challenge for me, as I HATE wearing sleeves. But I went to a professional function last night, and kept my jacket on even through dinner. I did feel different… more polished as I did so.



Perhaps try to find jackets that are even more comfortable. Some of them have 3 quarter sleeves.
Another option to give a try is to use a sleeveless vest. These can look very polished if you buy one is nice fabric. Even more so when you belt them.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: