Style Guide: An Ode to Claire Underwood’s Power Dress Code

Style Lists

House of Cards’ Francis Underwood may have stolen our hearts with his conniving stratagems and unforgettable one-liners about kittens becoming cats, but, as the saying goes, behind every great man stands a great woman. In the case of the Underwoods, a fashionable femme fatale at that. In many ways, Claire Underwood keeps the wheels in motion. She makes moves imperceptible to nearly all around her and is ruthless when it comes to Francis and his ascent to the presidential throne. Her motives and razor focus translate to a wardrobe cut to kill with architectural design, sturdy fabrics and body conscious silhouettes.

Not one to blend in, Claire’s style is regal yet incredibly strong. Though she possesses the same stylish yet stately presence we have come to expect from our First Ladies, Claire will not be donning a pink Chanel suit or pillbox hat á la Jackie Kennedy any time soon. Never vulnerable, Claire’s clothes reflect her hard as nails casing. With a light touch of makeup, muted color palette and powerful dress, we can see why Francis chose Claire to be his queen. With Season 3 nearly here, release date set for Feb. 27, we anticipate some striking fashion from this modern-day Lady Macbeth.

10. Everyday Trench


When the weather in Washington D.C. is as unpredictable as the politics, a classic tailored trench is just the coat for a stroll through a nearby cemetery and a minute of peace. Perfect for work, day and night, the classic trench is a staple for all closets, but pay close attention to fit. Whether oversized or perfectly tailored, how the shoulders fall makes all the difference with a crisp, professional style.

Follow Claire’s lead in the Hop, Zip and a Jump Raincoat from ModCloth.

Photo via ModCloth

9. Stud Earrings


Although Claire’s bank account may be able to afford lavish pearls and tennis bracelets galore, she smirks at the expected accessories of America’s elite and takes a more understated approach with her jewels. Always simple—silver and gold studs for earrings, a sophisticated leather band watch from time to time—nothing is ever over the top, and nary a necklace in sight. Besides, Claire leaves the ring-rapping to Francis.

A little flashier than her usual smooth-faced studs, these Versus Gold Lion Stud Earrings from SSense would suit Claire all the same and hint at her warrior within.

Photo via SSense

8. Neutral Tones


A closet full of boring neutrals? No way. Nothing about the Underwoods is boring or dull, even when stepping out in beige. With a wardrobe chock full of warm caramels, cream, smoky gray and charcoal black, Claire takes her neutral game to the White House and looks impeccable in these tonal garments. The trick is to be aware of your particular skin tone and what neutrals play nicely with your personal hue. Whether warm or cool undertones work best, neutrals are a key element to any work attire.

Try out cpctank%20tops_-″>Michael Kors Hammered-Satin Tank from Net-A-Porter to channel your inner Claire.

Photo via Net-A-Porter

7. Body Conscious Evening Wear


Body-con dressing can run tacky real quick so, to achieve the tailored elegance Claire evokes in her form-fitting go-tos, remember (once again) that fit is key. Body-con does not mean skintight. Instead, play up your favorite features and make sure nothing is too tight, no matter the movement. Sitting, standing, stretching in a dressing room helps detect any trouble spots, and always make sure an exposed zipper runs straight. Color blocking with muted tones retains a classier element as well. Last but not least, one key aspect to body-con is posture. No matter the place—a stressful on-air live television interview, or an inauguration ceremony—Claire stands heads taller above the rest with shoulders back, making all of her clothes straight and stylish, too. Posture is key, just like mama told us.

Get into the body-con game with French Connection Manhattan Body-Con Dress from ASOS.

Photo via ASOS

6. Sleek Frames


As with her understated jewelry, Claire proves that a sleek pair of glasses can promote your look from head of the table to office boss. Although she wore her frames much less in Season 2, it will be interesting to see if Claire dons the pair more or less as First Lady.

See moves ahead of the rest with RB5226 from Ray-Ban.

Photo via Ray-Ban

5. Midi-length Swing Skirt


When not strapped into a body-con pencil skirt, Claire keeps everything proportional with her midi-length swing skirts and dresses. The style recalls Grace Kelly as Lisa Carol Fremont in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window when she appears in the black and white tulle tea-length dress. A softer, more feminine style, Claire manages to bring a “power” element to the look with sturdier, heavy fabrics. Even the sweet ribbon belt reads commanding with its stark contrast between black and white. This silhouette works well for those with little time to spare between work and happy hour.

Check out this Contrast Bodice Dress from Mango to try a midi-length look of your own.

Photo via Mango

4. Suit Dress


Often found in a dress, Claire knows how to pull off all types, even the elusive suit dress. The white number she wears to the cocktail reception for the later-on library naming ceremony at Francis’s alma mater, The Sentinel, is appropriate, classy and still running just a touch on this side of sensual. The over-shrug keeps the lines demure, but, with the buttons and pin-cut fit, Claire makes another great statement in her sky-high heels and dress suit while saying little, at least not to whom you expect.

This Lela Rose Half-Sleeve Silk Trim Shrug from Bergdorf Goodman captures half the look of Claire’s dress suit.

Photo via Bergdorf Goodman

3. Pomade


Never a hair out of place, who knew the pixie cut could be so impeccable and tough? Rather than the usual shoulder cut bob or razor short sides, pulled up ponytail or curled under ends, Claire keeps her hair closely cropped, but just long enough for a set of wispy bangs to play with. We have yet to see her go through an awkward phase, and we doubt we ever will.

To get the right amount of hold to keep all your hairs in line just like Claire’s, try Creative Cream Wax from Kiehl’s.

Photo via Kiehl’s

2. Three-Quarter Length Sleeves


The three-quarter length sleeve can play classy and regal or casual and just-so depending on the styling. Either way, this cut brings a coveted elegance to any dress or top. A flattering length for all arms, we bow down to Claire for bringing the three-quarter length sleeve back into our lives.

Try your hand at this Rene Dress from Nasty Gal to get the most out of a three-quarter look.

Photo via Nasty Gal

1. Men’s Button Down


A men’s button down is a necessary staple in any power-closet. Claire knows how to get things taken care of, whether in the office, at home, or on the steps of a hotel—minutes away from her charity gala event. With a men’s button down, perfectly tailored and tucked into a skirt or long trouser pant, Claire takes the menswear look to new heights with unexpected feminine touches. A button or two undone turns evocative rather than provocative, and the soft, folded over sleeve cuffs and collars make this a casual yet down to business kind of look. This same attitude is all part of Claire’s allure—until she is ready to pounce.

This IDLF Cotton Button Down from UNIQLO achieves the same all-American style as Claire’s go-to.

Honorable Mention: Francis Underwood’s Blue Ties


Not to be outdone, Francis knows his way around a designer suit. While the Underwoods both exist in a neutral-based, classically basic, high-tailored existence, Francis and Claire appear effortless, strong and always unified in their pursuit to the top of not only the country, but, quite possibly, the world.

A blue tie is signature Francis and we would expect nothing less than this Italian Silk Repp Tie from J. Crew.

Photo via J. Crew

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin