“I envisage the mind of Mary Warnock, the body of Kate Moss and the humanity of Leni Riefenstahl."
On of November 9, 2016, Hillary Clinton gave a memorable statement to the press conceding the presidential win to Donald Trump. Her words were an attempt to bridge the divide that had been brewing in the country for most of the campaign; however, most of us were looking at another message she was giving with her clothes. The Ralph Lauren pantsuit with purple lapels seemed to signify the merging of liberal blue and conservative red. As she spoke of solidarity and working together, one could’ve easily understood the muted color to mean another thing: mourning.
Regardless of how serious we take ourselves, as social creatures we take all the cues we can get from those around us. Clothing is a nonverbal form of communication. This isn’t a shallow concept, but more of an inherent part of human history. Not unlike others in the animal kingdom, we tend to look up to the one who physically demonstrates their powerful position among the group. This tends to be the person wearing the suit, or in this case, the pantsuit.
We hear the term alpha female constantly thrown around. She’s a character everyone wants to be but is afraid to meet. However, unlike her famous male counterpart, most of us are confused about who she actually is. While an alpha male is described as a close call combination of a chest-beating gorilla, mixed with Don Draper mentality, and a slight sexual predator air about them, the woman in power is often confused with “trying to be a man” or the meanest girl around.
To be perfectly fair, I don’t like the connotations for either sex. However, the dominant male is admired by his peers for being the leader of the pack who’ll make every woman drop her panties. The outstanding female is often criticized by other women for trying too hard and is openly disliked by men for not being feminine enough. This is most obvious in the way powerful women dress. If they wear a lacy floral dress, they won’t be taken seriously. But if they choose the trusty pantsuit, they’ll be seen as trying to be masculine. In other words, they can’t win.
Sexism seems to be at the center of these criticisms. Women are expected to be strategic geniuses and have a room full of men who trust and believe them, while still being the perfect housewife when she gets home. If they’re unattached or childless, they’re seen as problematic. Think about the last time you watched one of the million TV shows featuring the man’s man who is a CEO, while also a playboy, and part-time philanthropist. As viewers, we never wonder if this middle-aged man is unhappy because he doesn’t seem like he wants to settle down. We picture him living out his days in his penthouse with its revolving door of twenty something’s. Still women continue to stand out and persevere within this difficult climate. Perhaps one day these leaders will be judged by their actions instead of their personal choices.
If you’re a leader on the rise, paying attention to your wardrobe might seem ridiculous, but it can give you a boost in the right direction. Here are a few outfits that Alpha females have worn to present meaning, even before or without speaking a single word.
Despite people thinking pink is a girly color, it’s also bright, strong, and in-your-face. There’s nothing demure or soft spoken about it. Don’t shy away from it just because of what people say.
Who says you can’t be a powerhouse with a killer sense of style? Don’t feel like you need to change who you are to stand out. Trust yourself and stand tall.
A bold color goes great with equaling daring ideas and statements. Speak your mind through your words as well as your style choices.
Elegance comes from choosing the right accessories to shine but never upstage your presence.
Wear what makes you feel comfortable. You’ll be on the spotlight when you walk in, but when you present your ideas, you’ll wow everyone in the room.
Classic does not mean boring. Trust your instincts and don’t be afraid to try something different or out-of-the-box.
The first female secretary of state once said her elaborate pins were conversation starters. Add a quirky detail that is sure to break the ice.
If you choose to go for a more casual look, choose colors and textures that match who you are. Let your voice be your best accessory.
Be fearless. No matter which outfit you ultimately choose, wear it like an armor. Your reactions and responses to whatever happens will be what the other people in the room will remember.
If I could choose my ideal definition of an alpha female, it would be this: Someone who is unafraid of speaking her ideas while also willing to listen and collaborate with others. She’s determined on her goals, but supportive of others. She stands out, yet chooses to shine a light to those who are ignored. She fights for what she believes in, but never forgets the plight of her fellow humans.
What does an alpha female mean to you?