The Art Of Power Dressing Post-Pandemic

By Alison McGill

You know that old saying if you don’t look good, you don’t feel good? So often this one is brushed off as being a shallow thought, but it’s truly one of the most powerful concepts to embrace. If COVID has taught us anything, it’s the value of selfcare and putting ourselves first. With daily routines upended, lifestyles altered, careers pivoted, our whole sense of self has been in flux, with most of us struggling to ground ourselves in the new normal. And let’s be honest, we’ve also lost mucho mojo.

Where do you start to get your groove back? It starts with your wardrobe.

Toronto-based fashion stylist Julianne Costigan is a huge believer in empowerment dressing and it’s a philosophy lies at the heart of her business. In addition to working with editorial and commercial clients, Costigan works with real-life women of influence empowering them to use style to reach their goals and show the world what they can achieve. She says she personally discovered the power of dressing at an early age using clothes as a tool to boost her confidence with she was feeling anxious or nervous.

“I noticed I always felt best about myself when I put on a great outfit,” Costigan says. “The confidence boost is incredible, and I think this is a moment everyone can relate to. Putting on an outfit and feeling like you can do anything.”

In her professional life, Costigan says she had a moment a few years ago during a photo session that completely changed her life transformed how she thought about herself and what she could achieve. “I wanted a new headshot and hired Toronto-based photographer Erin Leydon to shoot me, and I chose to wear this white suit I had in my wardrobe which I loved,” says Costigan. “The way I felt in the suit, and how I looked wearing it in the photographs was incredible. I made me powerful and believe in myself and everything I want to achieve.”

Fun fact: Inspired by her own photoshoot, Costigan has partnered up with Leydon on a custom photoshoot experience for women. Their “Portraits With Impact” sessions offer participants a head-to-toe styling experience (nails, hair, makeup, styling by Costigan and her pro team), and shoot with Leydon.

Below, more of Costigan’s thoughts on how what you wear impacts your mindfulness, the three things every woman needs in her wardrobe, and why men need to rethink their wardrobe on the regular too.

On Why You Need To Dress Up For YOU!
“Living the remote work life means we don’t get dressed as we used to. We are into a new zone and way of thinking and wearing pjs all day is not acceptable. Pre-COVID there were two ways of dressing: Fully dressed and going out of the house, or at home in sweats with no makeup at home. If this time in our lives has taught us anything, it’s that we need to get dressed and get ready for ourselves, not for other people who will see us when we are going out. When change your thinking and stop doing these things for other people, you realized the importance of it and appreciate how transformative an experience it is.”

On The Basics Every Wardrobe Needs
“These are pieces that are great for everyone, of every size, and can be dressed up or down. A great blazer is essential. The fit and colour is up to you, but it’s a piece that universally makes people feel good and pulled together. A great white shirt is always a classic that works—I recommend you have at least one. Lastly is a great pair of jeans. High-rise styles are my personal preference because I find them elongating and universally flattering. Wear these three pieces together, as separates, and dress them up or down with your choice of shoes and accessories.”

On Why Men Should Up Their Style Game
“Thought I work mostly with female personal styling clients; I often start working with their husbands who I am introduced to because they want help with their wardrobe and don’t know where to find it. Most men say their clothes are ‘fine’ and the conversation ends there. It’s not something they typically talk, but slowly those conversations are beginning to happen as men become more comfortable with them. I recently worked with a male client, and he was so excited with his new pieces that fit him perfectly and he chose some new colours and patterns to incorporate into his wardrobe. The transformation in his attitude and confidence was amazing—I love seeing men getting excited about their style and celebrating it.”

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