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Dressing to Get Shit Done

What Racked editors wear when they want to feel powerful.

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Hillary Clinton at a campaign rally Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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Dressing to feel powerful is something I’ve been thinking about a lot for the past few years, but never more than over the past few months with this election. Up until the primaries, Hillary’s pantsuits felt like an SNL punchline to me. Now, I see them as a symbol of so much more.

When I voted for her then, I wore a bright red dress that I always wear when I want to command the attention of a room. Today, I wore the winter version of that: a leather pencil skirt, turtleneck, and wool blazer. It’s a boss outfit, and something I’m so happy to associate with voting for our first female president.

I am certainly not the only person who’s been thinking about this — and the politics of what we wear — over the course of the past year. Below, a handful of my coworkers on what they wear when they want to feel powerful and get shit done.


I feel powerful in anything with heels — boots, pumps, really anything — and a great jacket. The jacket feels like grownup, "I mean business" armor. The heels, well... much as I hate gendered sartorial norms that are rooted in patriarchy, heels do feel like a grownup item that conveys authority, independence, and savvy. — Ellie Krupnick, managing editor


I would just say it's fairly impossible for me to feel badass without nails done, even still, all these many years after the nail art craze. Today, they're "Stronger Together" blue. — Meredith Haggerty, senior editor


A pencil skirt and Manolo pumps. I can wear anything else with that combo — oversized sweater, faded vintage T-shirt — and still feel like a boss. And it really is those pumps, nothing else has quite the same pitch and shape, or are comfortable enough for me to take the subway (because riding the subway in 4" heels will make you feel like a superhero). — Britt Aboutaleb, editor in chief


When my underwear matches I feel unstoppable! Happens like 2.5 times/year. My GSD outfit though is denim on denim with a bold bright lip and statement necklace. — Aminatou Sou, editor at large


A simple red lip makes me feel like there's nothing I can't do. Regardless of your personal style, red lipstick gives you a feel of authority and can make you look instantly more awake and put together. Plus, it goes with everything. This is the only item of makeup I carry on me everywhere I go. — Annemarie Dooling, director of programming


It's all about my favorite cold-weather coat, a black men's overcoat from Sandro that I bought on sale last winter. The woman who sold it to me — who'd watched me try on a bunch of tweedy, grandpa-ish jackets before I reached for this one — informed me that the second I pulled it on, I literally held myself differently. While that was EXCELLENT sales work on her part, she was actually right: In it, I look taller (because I stand up straighter), more put-together, and more in charge. With some heeled boots, it is my truest power outfit. — Eliza Brooke, senior reporter


When I put a blazer on over anything, I'm pretty sure I'm invincible. I have a really old stretchy one from Express that's held up well, plus this mixed media blazer from 1.State with a fun zipper detail on the waist. Both of those are black, of course. — Laura Gurfein, deputy managing editor


I make a concerted effort with my underwear if I'm feeling (or convincing myself to feel) particularly magical. That half hour of privacy before I board the subway is crucial, so seeing myself half-naked and :fireemoji: does the trick. — DeAndria Mackey, junior motion designer


I have this burgundy pencil skirt from Loft that I bought to wear to my first internship interview at a magazine in Atlanta. It actually still fits me, like, five years later (because Loft's pencil skirts are great!), and I always feel ready to take on something new or scary when I wear it. It's not the most exciting piece of clothing, but it makes my butt look awesome, and it reminds me of how excited I was to start my career. — Stephanie Talmadge, social media editor


Lipstick! If I'm feeling even slightly under the weather, a quick slick of anything MAC makes me feel put-together and like I'm fooling them all. For the full effect, it's usually a dress, a tailored or fitted jacket, and definitely red lipstick. — Cory Baldwin, shopping editor


Being 4"11, I can't help but always feel small and feeble — especially when working in a space like fashion where men and women are constantly towering over me. I think people often underestimate how difficult it is to be taken seriously when you're short.... like when you're interviewing a CEO of an important retail company and you have to sit at the edge of your seat — not because you’re riveted by the interview, but because it's the only way your feet will touch the ground.

I do my best to laugh off the jabs about my height ("You’re the one doing the interview?" or "Are you an intern?" or, perhaps my favorite, "Aw, you’re so cute!") but most often, when I want to feel powerful, I put on a good pair of high heels. It's a trade-off between wanting to feel tall or looking like I'm trying too hard, but usually I opt for the former, because those three extra inches mean the world to me: I walk taller, feel stronger, and am generally more relaxed when I know I won't have to be spoken down to (literally). Getting around in these power-posing heels, though... that's another story. — Chavie Lieber, senior reporter


Easy! Jumpsuits are my power suits. There is something about keeping an outfit to one piece that makes me feel really put together. — Tanisha Pina, associate market editor


On Sunday mornings when I KNOW I have to do work and I KNOW it will take me forever to get focused, I put on a tight, warm turtleneck. I sadly don't need glasses, so turtlenecks help me channel my inner stiff, nerdy smart person. — Rebecca Jennings, associate producer


Not to sound like a total cliché, but heels really do make me feel more powerful, important, and take-charge (mostly because they boost me over the six-foot mark). Of course, that's provided I can actually walk in them comfortably; spindly stilettos often wind up having the opposite effect.

I swear by a tall pair of ankle boots — they're super supportive thanks to the added instep support, and typically feature a sturdier, thicker heel I can wear all day long with no problem. Rag & Bone's Newbury boots, which I own in two different colors and wear at least once or twice per week, are my holy grail. — Elana Fishman, entertainment editor


I need to have my nails done (After School Boy Blazer by Essie for me, in the blue family), and I also must be wearing anything but a dress (i.e. pants, shorts) — something about the added leg mobility really gets me going. My go-to get shit done outfit? Track pants, trainers, fitted hoodie, and a baseball cap. The latter gets me feeling incognito, like a super productive ninja. — Alizah Farooqi, social media editor


A new pair of shoes/shades or pants will definitely get me going. It reminds me why i work so hard. — Anthony Leslie, video shooter