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The timeless charm of power shoulders

Many designers at the recently concluded fashion weeks in Milan, Paris and New York have presented their experimentations with bold shoulders

British model Naomi Campbell presented a creation for Balmain menswear ready-to-wear fall-winter 2024/2025 collection show, as part of the Paris Fashion Week on 20 January
British model Naomi Campbell presented a creation for Balmain menswear ready-to-wear fall-winter 2024/2025 collection show, as part of the Paris Fashion Week on 20 January (AFP)

Wide-cut suits with big shoulders and wide lapels, synonymous with power dressing, are getting more attention on the runway. 

Donatella Versace set the mood for it in Milan last month, pushing the house's power tailoring to extremes and offering everything from hourglass jackets to tuxedo pieces. 

During the Paris fashion week, exaggerated shoulders made their presence felt at Louis Vuitton, Balmain and Alexander McQueen. At the New York Fashion Week, Beyonce sparkled in a crystal jacket by Gaurav Gupta that had statement shoulders.

Synonymous with the adventurous dressing of the maximalist 80s, power shoulders continue to stay popular commanding instant attention both inside and outside the boardrooms. What is it about this silhouette that makes it so timeless?

Also read: Ultra high-waisted trousers are hot again

Esha Bhambri of label House of Fett observes that power shoulders symbolise strength and confidence, qualities that are ever-relevant in today's fashion landscape. "They embody more than just a style; they convey an attitude. They have this ability to transform the wearer's silhouette, offering a visual statement of authority and poise," she says.

Today, power shoulder dressing is not limited to blazers or suits, though. It's visible in categories such as dresses, blouses and shirts as well, says stylist Bharat Kukreja.

He suggests styling power shoulders in balanced proportions. "Pair them with bottoms that are tailored or perhaps opt for a pencil skirt. One can pick high-waist bottoms, which can create balance by drawing the attention to the waistline. Keep the jewellery as minimal as possible, probably a pair of stud earrings or a statement watch," he suggests.

Since one would want to lay focus on the shoulders, one should finish off the look with a sleek hair look. "Go for a ponytail or a gel look with a bold lip colour," Kukreja adds.

Power shoulders' adaptability across decades also highlights their versatility, seamlessly fitting into both formal and casual contexts.

"A power shoulder blazer paired with high-waisted jeans and a minimalist T-shirt can create a look that's both impactful and effortlessly chic, perfect for everyday wear. For those aiming to make a statement, combining power shoulder pieces with streamlined bottoms and standout accessories can elevate the entire ensemble," says Bhambri.

You can also pair it with a dress. 

Designer Abhishek Sharma observes: "Style a power-shoulder cropped jacket with an intricately detailed sheer dress. Blending the bold with delicate would be eye catching." 

Also read: How to make old fashion new

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