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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!

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. Frequently worn by the High-Powered Career Woman.

Note that with the outdated image of actual '80s "power suits" — unflattering bulky tweed things with massive shoulder pads — the power suit referred to here will be a much more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.

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.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • 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".
  • Kaguya-sama: Love Is War: Fujiwara's diplomat mother Maho is shown wearing a suit jacket in her only onscreen appearance (it's unclear if she has pants or a skirt since she's only shown from the waist up). Most of the other mothers in the series tend to wear more feminine clothes, even if they're successful businesswomen. Fujiwara herself is also shown wearing a suit and skirt combo as an adult when she follows in her parents' footsteps as a politician, thought the effect is somewhat lessened by her continuing to wear her hair bow.

    Comic Strips 
  • Perhaps one of the earliest examples of this trope in print can be found in Nell Brinkley's 1928 comic serial Dimple's Day Dreams. Flighty Ms. Delphine (or "Dimple" to her friends) daydreams of a career in politics, fantasizing about being elected Mayor, or Governor, or even President. An accompanying Imagine Spot depicts Dimples wearing an immaculately tailored double-breasted suit over a diaphanous blouse with exaggerated bell sleeves and a lacy cravat. Her fitted trousers are embellished with bell-bottom cuffs of the same gauzy fabric. The idea of a woman president in a power suit was wildly progressive (and perhaps overly optimistic) at a time when women in the United States had only won the right to vote 8 years prior.

    Film — Animation 
  • The Bad Guys (2022): Diane Foxington has one as her usual attire while doing her job as Governor. After the failed Sunnyside heist, Mr. Wolf mocks the suit when he's venting at her.
  • In Turning Red, Ming usually wears a green blazer on top of her blue and green dress.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • 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.
  • Heathers: This is what Heather C. is trying to invoke by having her clique wear blazers at school. Notably, she, as the leader, is wearing the most attention grabbing ones, and, as soon as she is killed by Veronica and JD, the others abandon the style entirely. Unusually for the Trope, the Heathers abide to the padded shoulders style, as the film is from the 80's, but not strictly to the suit part, as they - being highschoolers - prefer a more youthful approach to the Power Suit look.
  • 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.

  • Fate/Zero's Saber, in contrast to her armored Fate/stay night look, preferred a stylish black suit when working with Kiritsugu Emiya.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Broad City: In "Mochalatta Chills", Ilana hires several unpaid interns to do her work for her, and in her new position as a boss she buys herself a power suit to show her authority—in all white which she calls her "white power suit".
  • 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.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Dee wears a yellow pantsuit while serving as a youth basketball coach in an apparent attempt to look authoritative. Mac tells her she looks like Big Bird.
  • 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 (2015): 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.
  • The X-Files: Scully's Consistent Clothing Style, starting with some very early 90's plaid suits with shoulder pads to the more stereotypical black blazer/pencil skirt combo from season 3 onward. Such an iconic part of her character that in season 7's "Hollywood A.D.," in which a movie is made about Mulder and Scully, Tea Leoni, who plays her, can be see sporting one, along with a red wig and exaggerated version of Scully's cross necklace. She asks Scully to teach her how to run in the high heels that naturally accompany such an outfit.


    Video Games 
  • In Control, Jesse acquires one of these after completing the main story, when she accepts her role as Director of the FBC. There's another one she can acquire via an optional side quest which is the same suit except gold.
  • Arlecchino the Knave of Genshin Impact is one of the eleven Fatui Harbingers, who dresses in a suit that serves to give her a more masculine and menacing air.
  • Helltaker revolves around the titular protagonist acquiring a harem of demon girls in fancy suits, each of which are capable of killing him easily. The main reason the game was even made is because the creator thought there wasn't enough art of hot demon girls in fancy suits.
  • League of Legends: Renata Glasc is the most successful businesswoman in all of Zaun, rivaling the economic powers of the city above, Piltover. She always wears a cleanly tailored and very angular white suit. If you keep her from her goals in any way, she will use her influence to destroy you and everything you love.
  • Samus Aran from Metroid is a variation where the Power Suit makes her even more Badass.
  • In Pokémon Sun and Moon, a now-adult Anabel from Emerald is the leader of an International Police agency to confront the Ultra Beasts, and she wears a very nice suit.

    Visual Novels 
  • Dr. Mosely/Zeta from Double Homework is not in a traditionally portrayed role, but she is indeed very powerful, and she will not hesitate to exercise her power.

  • 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.
  • Ziggy Pig and Silly Seal (2022): Roxanne, Silly Seal's wife, is never seen without her power suit and black stiletto heels.

    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.


Video Example(s):


Business Suit Strip

Dancing to the song "Money Can't Buy It", Demi Moore's Erin Grant goes from a business suit to a skimpy gold thong bikini.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / YouCanLeaveYourHatOn

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