Fashion as a Form of Soft Power

Inspired by Drew Joiner’s video, On Fashion as a Form of Soft Power.

In early December, I traveled to San Francisco for a 2024 Annual Planning offsite with a group of 25 Product Managers and Senior Engineering leaders from my company. Despite being the least experienced, youngest person in the room by more than a decade, I made sure I wasn’t dressed like the youngest person in the room. I wore a collared white shirt, black trousers, a tailored blazer, and boots, which coincidentally matched the outfit of the VP of Product. Although I was the most junior employee, I looked and felt like an executive.

Soft power is a concept in international policy that refers to the ability to influence others through economic and cultural means, as opposed to coercion or military force. For example, while the United States has the most powerful military in the world, you can argue that its soft power is even more strong. The world consumes American culture whether it be Hollywood movies, Hip Hop music, or technology products.

On an individual level, one can exert influence through their demeanor, communication style, and appearance, rather than relying on intimidation or physical strength. Dressing appropriately is an important aspect of this. It is often advised to dress for the job you aspire to, rather than the job you currently hold. By putting effort into your appearance, you demonstrate self-respect and gain the respect of others, whether it be in business, dating, or any other aspect of life.

January 10, 2024

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