Leather is the New Blazer

Is the leather jacket finally upstaging the power suit? Hillary Clinton might not agree, but plenty of high-ranking women, from Google to General Motors to government, are rocking the powerful look. Take Margo Georgiadis, the former Google exec turned Ancestry.com CEO, looking both stunning and like she could make millions for your business in this number.

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Still skeptical that leather has made it to the hallowed halls of power? Check out GM’s Mary Barra, Senator Tammy Duckworth, and Sallie Krawcheck, CEO of Ellevate Network and once known as the most powerful woman on Wall Street. Although it’s an age-old classic for the hip subculture, leather is coming into its own in the workday wardrobes of women who might not have dreamed of it a decade ago.

So what gives? Leather is empowering to the wearer. In a business context, it can be intimidating -- in a more serious way than a leopard print is intimidating -- which is quite to the point. It wasn’t all that long ago that women felt the need to adopt a menswear wardrobe, complete with suit and bowtie, to be taken seriously. That ultra-conforming phase was supplanted by the intimidatingly broad shoulders of the Armani power suit, which was followed by a long stretch of generic black suits, followed by us finding ourselves. Finally, in the age of women finding their voices, we’re feeling confident to express our power unapologetically. All at once, leather signals an air of confidence, a bad boy vibe, a certain comfort with our sexuality, and a rule-breaker message that, until recently, might have drawn “can you believe she has the nerve?” murmurs in proper company. One doesn’t wear leather unintentionally.

Has leather made it into your professional wardrobe yet? Margo Georgiadis layered on complexity with the leather bomber over a black lace top. Try a leather moto jacket over a trim sheath dress or go all out manly and wear your leather with a great pair of trousers. There are plenty of ways to make your point. Power to you.  

BUSINESSAneesha Rao