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The Return of Power Dressing in 2018

June 24 2018

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New wave music, leg warmers and parachute pants never quite managed to transcend the 1980s, remaining lost in the decade they triumphed in. Only one trend has managed to escape the ‘80s cliché and make a dazzling return to the fashion scene in 2018: power dressing. 

The luxury designers showing their collections on the recent Fashion Week ’18 runways in Paris, Milan, London and New York all had one thing in common. You guessed it, the power suit. From Alexander McQueen and Balenciaga’s exaggerated shapes to Altuzarra and Marc Jacob’s strong tailoring, corporate wear is everywhere this season. Unlike the 1980s bold statement pieces, this rebooted trend takes notes from muted Parisian style and modern femininity. 

We can praise the fashion gods for the revival of the power dressing movement, with its feminine twists on traditional menswear. The standard greys and blacks, found in masculine clothes, are challenged with checks, stripes and pastel hues, while dominant shoulders are contrasted with cinched waists, representing women’s strength in the workforce without jeopardising their femininity. 

As every fashion buff knows, Coco Chanel is credited with inventing power dressing in the 1920s. She borrowed elements from menswear; dressing as a strong independent male while parading herself as the ideal modern women. Chanel’s philosophy of style revolved around the symbolic power and authority associated with black clothing and upper-class male sportswear. The iconic designer was championing women’s equality and female empowerment in a society that did not.

If women were marking their territory in the office in the 1980s and Chanel was steering away from gender roles in the 1920s, what are the designers of 2018 trying to shake off? The return of power dressing isn’t just a fashion statement, it’s another wave of women’s equality smashing the recent rise of sexual harassment in the media. 

In an era of #TimesUp and #MeToo, women are fearlessly turning to blazers, padded shoulders, pantsuits and corporate skirts to unite against harassment. Power dressing and gender equality go hand in hand, and while fashion alone won’t solve these issues, it unifies strong women, banding us together to fight for the same cause. Next time you shrug on your blazer, or slide into your RP Skirt, take a moment to look in the mirror. Not only do you look like an absolute QUEEN, you’re also a part of a global movement hailing female empowerment. You go girl. 


About The Author

Kayla Wratten is currently in her third and final year of a Bachelor of Journalism at Queensland University of Technology, minoring in Fashion Communication.  Her ideal day involves reading Vogue or Frankie with a cup of green tea by her side, dreaming of exotic travel destimations and catching a yoga class.  She loves nothing more than writing about her passion for fashion, interviewing designers and sitting front-row at Brisbane's runway shows.  You can read more of her work at

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