Dressing for success

Have you notice someone in the crowd before and thought, they must be a lawyer or consultant or something like that? It might be the opposite; you saw someone and thought they looked very scruffy so they must do something like gardening or IT.

We all make snap decisions based on less than 30 seconds and yes dress is a part of it. One of my friends is a groovy rock chick, but only in her personal life, business she looks completely different, suits and very conservative, but outside of business she wears the tight jeans, high heeled boots and sequin t-shirts.

It is worth investing in clothes for that first meeting.  I have clothes that I do not wear other than for work or networking, my “uniform” is coordinates, not usually suits unless I visit a client that the work dress is suit for all (yes there are some out there). That does not mean if you are a gardener you should invest in a suit or that you should wear your dirty jeans and t-shirts to a networking event or to visit a client for a meeting.

You need to find a uniform that works for your business. I need to look approachable and welcoming, a power suit does not do this, and they can be intimidating. If you wear jeans to do your actual work what can you wear to visit a client or go networking, what about chinos and a dress shirt without a tie?

If you are not sure you can browse the internet looking for pictures of people in your industry, see which ones you would think, “that is a successful person”, not by knowing the person just by looks, they look successful to you. One thing I have done is buy books on image, Colour Me Beautiful does a series, there is a book for men, that goes through body type, colouring and style.  I can wear a stuffy suite and look tidy but I normally relax the look somehow, naturally.  One client said I have a Bohemian look, I like that. Might not work for your look though.

If a book does not do it then it is worth spending the money on a basic consultation with a stylist, they can discuss what you should wear to make the most of the 30 seconds.  An ill-fitting suit will make the wrong impress as will a suite that is the wrong shape. You may not have to wear the uniform while doing the work but put it on when you meet clients or go networking and it can also give you confidence.  I feel better when I know I look good, don’t you?

Written by Katherine Davison

Katherine Davison

Katherine has been a corporate training consultant for over 10 years and had her own business since 2001.

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