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Lady in a Power Suit

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"This is my crime scene, detective."

Pam: You know, I think there could be a lot of benefits if you could learn to get along with women.
Dwight: Look, I have no problem with women. It's businesswomen and their, their power suits and their shoulder pads. Don't lie about your shoulders!
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Many important people wear suits and, unremarkably, some of them are women. They are cool, calm, and certain. Unflappable in business and lunch meetings, they will not take any man's Trash Talk. This woman is a badass just from the aura she presents, this aura radiating from her power suit. Of course, it isn't the suit that gives her power but it sure doesn't harm the image she's trying to project that she is not to be messed with. On a man's chess board, she's captured the king.

This trope is for the powerful women demonstrating their prowess through an equally powerful suit.

Bonus points if their sheer presence intimidates men of a similar position.

Note that with the outdated image of actual '80s "power suits" — unflattering bulky tweed things with massive shoulder pads — the power suit referred to here will be a much more slim-lined, definitely fitted and quite modern pantsuit, maybe even erring on the side of the traditionally masculine. Whilst characters in the shoulder-padded suits could be examples, it is dependant on how the work presents it: as these were typical office attire for any and all women of the period, to qualify it would require the distinctly powerful woman to be wearing a power suit and for no other woman in the work to wear one.

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Compare Power Hair, likely to be paired with this.

See also Badass in a Nice Suit (which this woman could be), about kicking ass in an awesome suit.

Not to Be Confused with Samus Is a Girl, in case you're thinking of a lady wearing a literal "power" suit.


Examples:

Anime & Manga

  • Fate/Zero's Saber, in contrast to her armored Fate/stay night look, preferred a stylish black suit when working with Kiritsugu Emiya.
  • Integra Hellsing from Hellsing is in charge of a large paramilitary vampire-hunting organization, and is rarely seen wearing anything but a formal suit. She is also a Cigar Chomper and (in the English translations) prefers to be addressed with "sir".
  • Shimoneta: Sophia Nishikinomiya is an influential politician and is always seen in her purple pants suit. She and her husband, Matsukage, are the primary antagonists who lobbied for the increasing censorship laws that have prohibited all manner of obscenity in Japan for the last 16 years.
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Films - Live-Action

  • Pacific Rim: Uprising: Liwen Shao, a no-nonsense technologist and head of Shao Industries, wears elegant white suits in her early appearances. She's initially implied to be a Corrupt Corporate Executive, but becomes a Defrosting Ice Queen and a valuable ally to the main characters.
  • Mace in Strange Days wears a severe black one as a bodyguard/limo driver.
  • The Big Kahuna: As part of his attempt to get his younger colleague to open up about his own preferences, Larry admits that he loves women in business suits.

Literature

  • Worm: Contessa qualifies; she is typically described as a "mysterious unnaturally competent woman in a suit".

Live-Action TV

  • Arrow: Laurel Lance was an attorney, eventual ADA, so she wore suits to her day job.
    • Amanda Waller also wore suits, which helped her project a different kind of power in a job that saw her working with and against vigilantes, mercenaries, soldiers and metahumans.
  • Bosch: Grace Billets is a pantsuits wearing lieutenant at Hollywood Station. It's noted to be a big deal in season 4 where she temporarily pulls out her old police uniform while functioning as Acting Captain to oversee the cops handling security at a planned demonstration outside the police station.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Amy Santiago has a large variety of pantsuits that she wears everyday, fitting her formal and professional demeanor, as well as her highly ambitious nature. She is always looking to command respect from her colleagues, as well as trying to achieve her goal of becoming captain of her own precinct one day.
  • Daredevil (2015): Marci Stahl wears a fair number of pantsuits, such as an all-gray outfit when Foggy and Karen run into her during Nelson & Murdock's lawsuit against a client at Marci's firm, or a blue blazer that she wears to Father Lantom's funeral.
  • Dynasty could well have the trendsetters for the intimidating power suits with big shoulder pads, Alexis the most, whenever they run the Denver oil company.
  • Mad Men Averted in earlier seasons where if women were wearing a suit, it'd be a traditionally feminine or fashionable style (a la Betty Draper or Mona Sterling or Trudy Campbell, the ad wives), very couture (Rachel Menken or Bobbie Barrett), or matronly (Miss Blankenship or Mrs. Olson). However, later in the series, as they climb up the career ladder, Joan and Peggy Olson take to wearing declarative businesswear 1960s style.
  • The Mary Tyler Moore Show can be considered to have championed the power suit, albeit '70s style, as Mary Tyler Moore was an icon for not just women's lib, but also to the emerging women at the workplace.
  • Mrs. America, focusing on the activists within Women's Lib and the antifeminist counter-movement of the 1970s, has examples all over the place.
    • Iron Lady Phyllis Schlafly is an experienced lobbyist and two-time Republican congressional candidate who often is seen in matching, structured two piece suits with pointed collars and a slight A-line skirt and high collars or pussy bows. She averts the trope of being feminist-minded as Phyllis is willing to take advantage of prejudices and fears concerning the changing role of women to gain clout in the political right-wing.
    • Phyllis's ally, Rosemary Thomson, starts out the series in classic dresses and sweaters before graduating to serious suits with bows and high neckline blouses and she is becoming more power-hungry and crueler to her friends.
    • Phyllis's friend Alice, ends the series wearing a power suit (with pants) and with a job as a 411 operator, in stark contrast when she started out as a sheltered suburban housewife in shirtdresses with a regressive view of what women (and by extension, she) were capable of. This is seen as a huge feat in Character Development.
    • Oddly in the feminist front, the number of women wearing a power suit could be counted on one hand. As most of the feminists eschewed rules concerning feminine or even business dress, choosing to express themselves in the stylish and casual pieces of the 1970s. The few that did wear power suits were politicians like Shirley Chisholm (a middle-aged African American Congresswoman who ran for President) or political insiders like the Republican Jill Ruckelshaus.
  • Leslie Knope of Parks and Recreation, who treats her job with the utmost seriousness, is always wearing a very professional suit. The only other member of the Parks and Rec department to wear a suit regularly is Tom, but even then he is constantly dishevelled. Leslie is trying to show that she is in charge here and has things handled.
  • McAfee in The Politician almost always wears masculine trouser suits, befitting her calm and "professional" appearance, despite being in high school.
  • Shiv Roy on Succession switches to bespoke pantsuits once she decides to try her hand at becoming CEO of Waystar.
  • Supergirl: Alex Danvers, Kara's elder sister, swaps out her secret agent tactical gear for a fitted suit in some occasions. These are typically when presenting the public front of her secret service employer, looking both more professional than in a catsuit as well as commanding awe. The other occasions when she wears one are in situations where she is also putting herself in power, compared to when she wears a dress in occasions of letting go of control.

Video Games

Webcomics

  • Ennui GO!: Darcy's usual outfit consists of a blood-red suit jacket and skirt and she most definitely exudes power and intimidation when wearing it. That said, Darcy probably doesn't need to wear a power suit (or any clothes, considering this comic) to be generally intimidating.
  • Hark! A Vagrant:
  • Spacetrawler has Joyce Evans, the no-nonsense CEO of a company named after herself. She's abducted by aliens as she's leaving the office, so she's yet to change out of her business suit. And she quickly proves herself much more competent than Nogg (the alien who abducted her) and becomes the de facto leader of his crew.

Western Animation

  • On Daria, the titular character's mother Helen, a lawyer, wears a slightly updated version of this look (think more Hillary Clinton than Charlotte Pickles below, especially lacking shoulder pads). She onetime takes Daria shopping with her where Helen tries on a powder blue version of her usual matching bright burgundy blazer and skirt.
  • Parodied on the Gravity Falls episode "Boss Mabel". When Mabel fills in for Grunkle Stan as boss of the Mystery Shack, she wears an adult-sized business suit with oversized shoulder pads.
  • On the Rugrats, Charlotte wears a suit like this, complete with shoulder pads.

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