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Nailing the Basics

Dressing like a power player is a recipe for success with wardrobe staples, fresh accessories and flattering color and proportions as ingredients.

“For your core staples, choose multi-purpose fabrics that can transition from season to season but that you can make new with the current season’s freshest color and/or accessories,” said Fanya Chandler, Nordstrom’s national stylist director.

While Jeanne Branthover, managing director of Boyden Global Executive Search, said that most companies do not expect a business suit on a regular basis, men need to know how to look sharp in a suit and tie in order to impress clients and nail that interview. She added that many men keep a tie and sports jacket in the office to always be prepared for a surprise meeting.

In offices where suits are the norm, power players should strive to maintain a defined silhouette with crisp lines and a rich color palette, Chandler said. For men, suits look best in navy or charcoal with a micropattern, which adds dimension without being distracting.

Rich colors are a power-dressing asset. Chandler said ties should incorporate rich colors and that every color you choose should be a true saturation of that color.

“For example, if you chose red, make it a deep red — not a cranberry red,” she said. “Your other option is to pattern mix the shirt and tie — the smarter the combination, the better the impression.”

Women should avoid soft airy fabrics and items that swing off the body or wearing sleeveless and capsleeve looks.

Colleen Sherin, Saks Fifth Avenue’s women’s fashion director, recommends that women wear either a dress or a tailored jacket with a beautiful blouse that complements a pair of trousers or a pencil skirt.

Chandler stressed the importance of investing in high-quality shoes. These will enable the power dresser to walk better and look better. Heels should be in the mid-to-high heel range along with a slight platform for comfort. Flats are also acceptable, but this will make the look a bit more casual.

“It’s always obvious to me when a woman is really uncomfortable in her shoes, and right there, she loses confidence,” she said. “You can’t fake shoe pain.”

Photo: Frederic Cirou | PhotoAlto Agency | Getty