The State of The Modern Power Suit

Featured Image by MR. DANESH HANBURY
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instripe suits, double-breasted blazers, padded shoulders, they all seem to be far gone in today’s style. Power dressing has experienced a bit of a falling out since the eighties.
As more companies accept a relaxed dress code in the offices, power suits seem to be an unnecessary thing of the past.

But are they?
It turns out, the fascination of power suits hasn’t faded in history yet. In fact, well-dressed men from all over the world are reinventing power dressing. With new ways to combine patterns, colours, and of course removing the padding and the awful square cut, the power suit seems to have a bright future in front of it.

But, like every style, power dressing has it’s guiding rules. While rules have a vague part in today’s style, in order to understand power dressing you’ll have to learn the foundations.


What is Power Dressing

MR MICHAEL DOUGLAS & MR CHARLIE SHEEN on the set of "Wall Street" (1987)
MR MICHAEL DOUGLAS & MR CHARLIE SHEEN on the set of “Wall Street” (1987)

Power dressing originally started in the mid 70’s as a way for the ladies to establish themselves in environments dominated by men. Ladies wore tailored suits with padded shoulders, skirts and turtlenecks. Padded shoulders would later become a suit staple in men’s power suits.

By the beginning of the 1980’s men stole the term (what would we do without you ladies). The fashion movement defined by boxy cut suits, wide lapels, long ties, pinstripes and double-breasted blazers was all the rage back then.

The style used different colours to influence, structured jackets to make an individual appear larger and other clever ways to make the wearer look and feel larger than life.

Today, modern power dressing consists of well fitted, often custom tailored suits, always with wide lapels. The button-up shirts of choice are solid oxford button-ups, shirt with contrasting collars, or ones with a striped pattern. The 80’s staple of double-breasted suits is still strong today, with more and more men embracing the double-breasted blazer trend.


How to Power Dress in 2018

A modern power suit by MR JUSTUS HANSEN
Photo by MR JUSTUS HANSEN

The majority of power dressing in 2018 closely resembles that of 1980 with small changes and tweaks to make the look modern, and overall, better looking.

The Power Suit

You can’t be power dressed without a proper suit. The 80’s power suit featured sharp cuts, wide lapels, and (overly) padded shoulders.

The Power Suit’s Lapels

The modern power suit preserves some of the features of the traditional power suit. While skinny lapels are in trend, wide lapels are a must in every power suit.
Wider lapels give the impression of a broader chest. While welcome to skinnier guys, bigger men should be careful with wide lapels. If you are tailoring your suit, it’s best to consult with your tailor. If you are buying off the rack, make sure you try a couple of different lapel widths. It’s always best to see how different lapel styles look with your build and face.

The Power Suit’s Buttoning

As we mentioned above, power suits are mainly double breasted. Today you can go for single or double breasted. Both types of buttoning look great.

However, as double-breasted suits grow in popularity, we encourage you to go with a double-breasted. It looks better, makes you look broader in the chest and shoulders, and when the fit is on point it flatters your body.

The Power Suit’s Fit

Here, on the Gentleman Zone journal, we’ve always preached that fit is king. No matter the style of the suit, you can’t look good if the fit is bad.

Depending on your build, you may need to adjust an off the rack suit, you may have to custom tailor one, or you are lucky and an off the rack suit fits you perfectly.

If you are unaware of how your suit should fit you can read our guide on the topic of suit fit.

The Colours and Pattern of the Power Suit

We mentioned briefly that power style used colours in order to manifest and command power. While power style isn’t necessarily meant to influence others the right colours can make an individual feel more powerful.

Power dressing is a great way to make yourself feel better in an environment that you don’t feel comfortable in and colours can accompany everything.

For patterns, you can often see power suits in stripes. While we do not recommend wearing a suit ‘a la Capone, you can surely experiment. One thing you should always mind when going for a striped suit the fit and your body style.

For tall men, vertical stripes will make them look taller. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try if you are above average high, just be mindful.
Windowpane is another very popular option with power suits. They do look amazing. In our opinion, large windowpane suits look best, and keep the formality, as smaller windowpane can look a bit childish on a suit.

The Power Shirt

Amazing striped shirt combined with a power outfit.
Photo by MR CARLOS DOMINGUEZ

With the power suit out of the way, it comes the harder part – the shirt. How do you match it with the suit? What colours to wear? Fit? We’ve got it all covered.

There is a subtle art in wearing a power shirt. It has to speak, but it shouldn’t be loud. It should match well with the suit, and it should look good with ties. And, while neglected, the power shirt can be substituted.

Today, a power outfit can look just as good when you opt out for a turtleneck or a long sleeved polo shirt.

The Colour and Cuffs of the Power Shirt

Just as the suit, the power shirt should be the right colour in order to look the place. With power dressing, a crisp white button up is always a safe bet. However, shirt in that style often is striped too. You can easily see crazy colour combinations such as purple and white, olive and white, and even pink and white.

While striped button ups have their place to look good, we suggest you bet on solid button-ups. Colours such as white, salmon, light blue and even light green will work great on striped suits.

Another feature of shirts worn with power suits are the cufflinks. A shirt with cufflinks would typically cost more than one with normal cuffs.

Button-Up Substitutes

You can swap the button up shirt with other tops. Turtlenecks and long-sleeved polos can also look amazing with a power suit.

The Power Shoes

For the shoes, you can go with anything that you like. While we would suggest staying off from loud and super shiny shoes, you can experiment with different colours. Brown, oxblood and even suede shoes can look amazing.

Another great way is to go with boots. Monk strap boots can give great dimension to your power outfit.

The Power Gallery

We couldn’t skip on showcasing some of our favourite modern power suits on Instagram. Make sure you follow the gentlemen bellow to further inspire yourself!


Power dressing can be something more than just a style from the past. The movement still has room to grow and when done properly it can make you look amazing.
Not to mention the freedom we have today in office wear. You can experiment with different type of footwear and colour combinations.

Evgeni Asenov

For the last 4 years I've been enthusiastic about men's style, lifestyle and fashion. Trough trial and error I've learned some things in this area and now I'm here to share with everyone who might be interested.

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