Home I'm Back At Work Dressing with authority (and looking elegant!)
Dressing with authority (and looking elegant!)

Dressing with authority (and looking elegant!)

Within the beige walls of many corporate headquarters, women find it hard to strike the right balance of traditional “power dressing” that exudes femininity and their own flair.

One big question women ask me is, ‘How can I have fun with my nine to five wardrobe but still look authoritative?’

Men are a little luckier—even the most fashion-backward male dresser can still look put together by whacking on a navy suit, white ironed shirt and plain coloured tie.

For women, maybe not so easy …

In part one of this series, we spoke about 15 pieces that every working mother needs. I’d like to build on those basics, adding some pizzazz to corporate staples while still exuding a power image.

Every professional working mother needs the following in her toolkit:

Pearl earrings: White pearls, pink pearls or black—whatever takes your fancy. The higher quality, the better, but you can find a multitude of freshwater pearls at many retailers and jewellers across Australia. I personally am a huge fan of a simple but large hanging pearl.

The silk scarf: A vibrant silk scarf can add that oomph factor to a look without comprising on your professional authority. A beautifully-tied silk scarf (think tightly around the neck, casually knotted on the chest or somewhere in-between) can make you look very chic and memorable. Again, different price points to suit all budgets, and all retailers stock varieties.

The basic nude and black patent pump: I love a good bargain but if you can invest in a quality, well-designed and beautiful nude and black patent pump for work, do it. They’re the most functional corporate shoes and the better ones really lift an outfit and add that extra wow factor. Everybody looks at shoes so try to keep them unscuffed, heeled and soled. Don’t use these shoes to traipse over city footpaths and run to trains. In winter, the black ones work well with pantyhose and you can keep the nude in rotation with pants. In summer, both colours work with skirts and dresses.

An eyebrow pencil (or equivalent) and a power lipstick: I’m no make-up expert but having well-groomed eyebrows and a power lippie can make you look very put together (even on those rough mornings – we’ve all been there.) The transformative power of lipstick also means that a basic black or navy outfit can really lift with the right shade of red lipstick. Most department stores (Myer, DJs) and make-up retailers in Australia (I’m thinking Mecca, MAC, Sephora) have friendly assistants who can match your brows to the right pencil and your lips to the right tonal hues. Try it—it’s so much fun and you might get addicted to lipstick like me.

The “right” handbag: Similar to your shoes, an investment in a classic handbag is worthwhile. I personally love structured handbags for the workplace, but I’m also a fan of totes on those days when I’m lugging a laptop. Leather is a necessity, and if you look after it, will last forever.

Until next time, Nina




Nina is a happy mum to three energetic boys and champions flexible working in her media and communications role at a big four bank. Between working and family there isn’t a lot of spare time, but her love of fashion is unwavering—follow Nina at @what_ninni_wears


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