9 Items Powerful Women Never Wear to Work

Updated 11/13/18
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The offices of Clique Brands are constantly flooded with two things: powerful women and game-changing outfits. Call us biased, but that kind of positive energy on all fronts is addicting, encouraging us to dress like the best version of ourselves at all times while simultaneously clothing ourselves with the confidence needed to face the day. But what do the powerful women outside this office wear on a daily basis? Perhaps more importantly, are there items they would never wear?

We decided to take this opportunity to investigate, reaching out to a handful of some of the most influential women in the industry to learn about the intimate details of their work wardrobe essentials. What was the main takeaway? That the definition of "feeling powerful" varies depending on who you talk to, but the common denominator is always feeling like the woman you want to be. The correct portrayal of "power" in this case is in the eye of the beholder.

Some of the wonderful women ahead revealed that showing up to work in running clothes makes them feel like they can conquer the world, while others regret to say that jeans in the office are a big no. Differences aside, these lovely ladies are an inspiration to women everywhere, and if their good taste doesn't convince you of that, their wise words will.

Curious to learn more about the work wardrobe essentials of some of the most powerful women in the industry? Scroll down to read what they have to say.

Cass Bird

"I won't be seen in sneakers. Aside from that, I pretty much wear anything—dresses, denim, separates."

M'O Exclusive Odilia Floral Poplin Midi Dress
Brock Collection M'O Exclusive Odilia Floral Poplin Midi Dress $1325
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"Whenever I wear anything uncomfortable or that makes me self-conscious (like, is this too low-cut, too tight?), I regret it. Worrying about that stuff all day hijacks your brain, and it's hard to feel powerful when you're fidgeting with a waistband. I'm big into black, and—just like everyone who's tried on this skirt—I'm obsessed with it. It looks fantastic with a mule, a low heel, or even when you're feeling really boss, a sneaker." — Erica Cerulo

"The older I've gotten—and the more confident I've become—the more I've purged anything uncomfortable from my closet. Ultimately I just feel so much more powerful in sneakers than I do in the type of heel that makes me stop to wonder if it's really worth the pain involved to get up and go to the bathroom. Ideally, you find something in between the two, but given the option, I'll always choose the arch support. And what's a bigger power move than showing up to the office in your (chic as hell) running gear? Powerful women get to do—and wear—what they want." — Claire Mazur

Dream It Skirt
Of a Kind Black A-Line Midi Skirt $115
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Tournament Leather Sneakers
Common Projects Tournament Leather Sneakers $405
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"I would never wear heels or any brand-new shoes without a backup pair in my bag. You never know where the day will take you or how much breaking in a new pair will require. I always have two bags with me—one larger work bag and one smaller purse or clutch I can grab for the essentials when running to lunch or a quick meeting. Monochromatic outfits always make me feel a little more powerful and together even when I may be dealing with a million things on the inside. Sometimes when I am getting dressed and go for the T-shirt drawer, I stop and remind myself a blouse will make you feel and look so much better today. Luckily, we have some very cute tops for fall that are easy to throw on with a pair of jeans and make getting ready in the morning a little less work—you already have a full day of that ahead of you."

Cher Stretch-cotton Flared Pants
Staud Cher Stretch-Cotton Flared Pants $205
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"There aren't so many rules that say what a powerful woman wouldn't wear so much as what she would wear, and that is anything that makes her feel confident, which is exactly how she got to be powerful. It is different for every woman. For example, I almost never wear jeans to work because they're not polished enough and not the image I want to portray as a person running this company. But I know plenty of very powerful women who do wear jeans and look fabulous and powerful. A powerful woman knows what becomes her and allows her to strive. I'm cautious saying this because you always hear the same trope about a suit making you feel powerful, which can be perceived as a holdover from more sexist times, but for me, I actually think it's true. A good suit makes me feel comfortable and sophisticated at the same time."

Sedgwick Jacket
A.L.C. Sedgwick Jacket $595
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"When I used to work for Louis Vuitton, because I am quite small—and it was a time sneakers weren't quite as fashionable yet—I used to wear heels every day for the whole day. Almost everyone at the office wore heels, so I couldn't really go to work in flats or ballerinas.

"Now that I have my own brand and work from my studio in Corfu, I can wear whatever I want to work and really only wear heels when I travel for work. It's quite liberating, but sometimes I miss dressing up for the office like I did in Paris. That said, I can't stop buying heels. … I have no self-control when it comes to quirky pairs of heeled shoes or boots."

red pearl embellished 65 suede leather mules
Miu Miu Red Pearl Embellished 65 Suede Leather Mules $990
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"As someone who has gleefully worn Uggs and sweatpants to work for weeks at a time, I'm not sure if I should be immediately disqualified. What I will say is that I feel most effective at work when I am comfortable. So I always dress for comfort and to support my mood, hence the Uggs/sweatpants matter. The one thing I would never wear to work, ever, ever again, is a pair of jeans that are just way too tight, because not being able to breathe means not being able to work. Plus, unbuttoning your pants at your desk isn't acceptable as a C-level executive.

"All that being said, I have a vintage leopard coat that makes me feel like I could rule the world, so I guess that's my power piece."

Petite Leopard Faux Fur Coat
Topshop Petite Leopard Faux Fur Coat $130
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Daniel Grandl

"Because I work in a creative industry, power dressing to me is slightly more understated and dressed down. There are very few rules as to what I cannot wear to work, but there are things that I will never wear. One of my biggest rules is that I never wear anything too revealing. In order to feel confident in a business environment, I need to be comfortable, and I don't ever feel comfortable wearing something that is going to be too exposed. I am fortunate enough to be able to wear denim to work, so I always make sure to incorporate one element that is elevated into my outfit. For example, I'll style my jeans with a gorgeous silk blouse from Ellery, a heritage blazer from Stella McCartney, or a stiletto heel from Gianvito Rossi."

Nouveau Pussy-bow Stretch-silk Satin Blouse
Ellery Nouveau Pussy-Bow Stretch-Silk Satin Blouse $895
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"Since we consider Create & Cultivate a true startup, my 'work' outfits range. When we are on site prepping for a conference, I'm in leggings—I love Beyond Yoga and Nike. I also always rock a fanny pack. I need my phone and a measuring tape at all times. When I know I have a meeting or someone is coming in to shoot the space, I love pieces from brands like & Other Stories, Zara, COS, and Creatures of Comfort. I'm feminine but simple. A lot of my work outfits are neutral colors like navy, taupe, and black. I always joke that I could live in Eileen Fisher. I feel most powerful when my presentation is doing the talking, not my outfit. As I get older, I'm less about mixing and matching crazy patterns and more about keeping it simple so I can get out the door and get things done. I very, very rarely wear jeans. You'll never catch me in a high-waisted Levi. Or a stiletto. Love them, but they're not for me."

Zara Minimal Collection Skirt $70
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"I would never wear anything bodycon or too short if I want to be taken seriously for what I have to say rather than feeling sexy—it's a different mindset. My go-to pieces are a crisp white shirt—I have loads from Tome to Jil Sander and Haider Ackerman—and a jacket with a twist—perhaps a colored tux jacket by Racil or a check double-breasted blazer from Balenciaga." 

Hourglass Houndstooth Wool Blazer
Balenciaga Hourglass Houndstooth Wool Blazer $2990
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Jack Pleated Washed-silk Shirt
Equipment Jack Pleated Washed-Silk Shirt $280
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This post originally appeared on our sister site, Who What Wear.

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