05/09/2017

Power Up or Power Down? Large Bust Dressing with Purpose

As you might imagine from a company inspired by the powerful look of men's crisp white dress shirts, we're all about the authority that our shirts impart to large-chested women. However, sometimes you may want to go in a softer direction.
 
Take, for example, the executive who let us sit in on her speed styling session with preeminent style strategist Carol Davidson at our pop up shop in April. The executive told us that during contract negotiation sessions in Japan, she was asked to sit in the same chair every time she entered the conference room. What was so special about that chair? It wasn't at the head of the table. It wasn't more comfortable than the others. No, it had been altered to a lower height than every other chair in the room! 
 
You see, the shorter chair gave this very tall executive the same seated height as everyone else around the table. In a culture that values conformity, a simple furniture adjustment helped her blend in. Because her goal was to close the deal rather than stand out, she went along with it.
 
Clothing can be used to the same effect. To amp up her presence in a Campbell & Kate shirt, Carol suggested that the executive pop the collar. To dial it down, she could wear it flat and roll up the sleeves.
 
    
 
 
 
 
Carol pointed out that accessories such as glasses can change our effect on others. For instance, the executive might want to wear more bold statement glasses to make an impact in front of a large group but selected more undertated frames to convey a more approachable message in a one-on-one coaching session.
 
Intrigued, we asked Carol for examples of other pieces that work this way.
"Any time you add a third piece, it visually adds another layer of authority," she answered. (A "third piece" is an accessory or clothing item that adds something extra to an outfit--it "finishes" it or adds interest and personality.) A blazer, less structured jacket, cardigan, statement necklace or even a scarf with substance can add authority.
 
But softening a look doesn't mean removing the third piece! "There are different degrees," Carol explained. "For example, a structured blazer vs. a knit cardigan." Both add a layer of authority, but the blazer, with its structure, is more of a power marker. (She also noted that a Campbell & Kate shirt, with its power markers of structure and collar, establishes authority before even adding a third piece.)
 
When deciding which end of the spectrum to dress for, Carol advises keeping two factors in mind:
 
(1) Understand how you come across naturally. By any measure, the executive at our pop up shop had a very strong presence. Knowing this, there may be instances when she might want to skew toward the softer end of the spectrum.
 
If you wonder how you come across naturally, we highly recommend consulting with an expert image consultant like Carol Davidson. It's her job to give you an accurate and honest read--something that's difficult for a close friend or family member to do.
 
(2) "What's on deck for the day?" As Carol noted, a single daily uniform will no longer suffice for all the roles we play in the work week. If a woman has an important meeting with C-suite executives where the outcome really matters, she's going to go all-out-full-authority. On the other hand, if she has a team meeting off-site, she's still going to look like a leader, but she'll dial it down a notch or two.
 
Finally, no matter what you wear, Carol reminds us that we can more easily pull off any look if we seem comfortable in our own skin, and body language plays a big role in this. Afraid you've over-dressed? It's less of an issue "if you relax your body language and simply step into whatever role you're playing for the day."