Women are changing the meaning of ‘power dressing’, forgoing high heels and business attire for comfortable clothes that make them feel their strongest and most confident selves.
I started an impromptu conversation online in 2022 when, after donning sneakers on stage due to a leg injury, I asked my fellow keynote speaker peers why haven’t we always dressed for comfort when presenting on stage. Before long the #speakersinsneakers hashtag started gaining traction.
The COVID-19 pandemic gave us many reasons to reassess our relationship with work, no more so than our work attire. While working from home in our sweatpants and favourite sweater, what we put on that day didn’t make us any less professional or productive.
When our brains can be used for the important aspects of our day, instead of using them to decide on which shoe goes with which outfit or worrying about how on earth we are going to be able to stand or walk in heels, we can then focus more on the aspects of our work that matter.
Unwritten (societal or workplace) rules about having to wear heels may even lead to employees spending more time at their desks, which prevents them from having the micro-breaks that their brain needs.
Lastly, uncomfortable shoes can also get in the way of workplace socialising, critical to building our professional networks.
So let’s switch from power dressing to ‘empower dressing’. Leave the high heels for the wine bar on the weekend and revel in the unlimited sneaker ensembles for the work week, because dressing for yourself will never go out of style.