They say that first impressions are terribly important. When you get to know someone their style is just an extension of their personality. But before you’ve passed the acquaintance stage their fashion choices are sending messages they may or may not be wanting on display. Whether you’re starting a new role or have a big presentation coming up, it’s safer to dress professionally when you’re dealing with new people. Here are 8 tips to help you dress for success and impress new business contacts.
Colour is more than an accessory
Do you ever wonder why you reach for a red tie or dress when preparing for a big meeting? How about the blue shirt when you have a new client to impress? Every colour gives off its own message and subconsciously you are making these choices. If you understand the messages you can consciously make the right one every time.
Blue implies you are trustworthy and reliable. It’s great for initial meetings or when you have to smooth over a negative experience with a client or colleague.
Red is a mixed bag. Sometimes it shows confidence and control, other times danger. It’s best saved for times when you need to express authority and confidence such as public appearances or making a hard sell.
Yellow suggests vibrancy, optimism and fun. Thus, it’s not well suited to formal business settings as it can come across immature. Better kept for creative pursuits or when dealing with younger colleagues.
Orange is frequently cited as people’s least favourite colour. For this reason, it’s ideal as a splash of colour in your outfit rather than an all-over feature. Think ties, scarves, pocket squares and handbags to add a brighter side without the negativity.
When in doubt, dress up not down
Just because Mark Zuckerberg wears a hoodie doesn’t mean it’s the best way to present yourself in a meeting with him. It’s tempting to go for casual clothing when you’re unsure of the dress standards. But what if you turn up to a lunch meeting in jeans when it’s at a high-end restaurant? It may also give the false impression you are unprofessional or don’t care much about your job. Rather than risk a dress code faux pas, opt for smart business style until you have established if it’s a jeans appropriate workplace.
Be aware of the dress code
After a while at a new workplace, or building a relationship with frequent meetings, you’ll get a sense of the dress standards expected. Perhaps you’ll both become more casual as your meetings move from the boardroom to cafes. Or you’ll realise it’s casual Fridays every week in the office. Rather than constrain yourself to conservative style for the foreseeable future, keep an eye on what others are wearing and allow your personal style to make a splash.
Include personal touches
All this business uniform talk can have you feeling like a corporate drone. If you’re feeling like a blank slate then it’s time to bring fun back into your usual attire. Quirky socks, pocket squares and even bowties are stylish ways to change up the male suit uniform. While jewellery, hair accessories and interesting nail art can add flair to a woman’s boring weekday wear
Hide your less conventional accessories
We’re more accepting of tattoos and piercings but that doesn’t mean they send out the right message. First preference would be hiding your tatts or removing piercings so that no-one takes the wrong idea from your attire. If you have a highly visible tattoo, make sure to dress smartly to avoid any misconceptions. A well-tailored suit or dress says you mean business while your tattoos let them know you have an artistic side as well.
Creases and lint
Perhaps you could get away with an unironed shirt as a 20-something just starting out; but as your career grows, your grooming standards should take a step up too. Iron your shirts, pants and dresses. Buy a lint roller for quick touch ups of dust or pet hair before leaving the house. It helps to have proper bedroom storage like a spacious closet with hanging space and drawers. You’ll save time if you don’t have to iron anything twice. Plus keeping jackets and coats well spaced apart prevents pilling and different coloured fibres co-mingling.
Pay attention to detail
Putting on a new outfit feels great. Pairing it with your well-worn shoes that are incredibly comfortable, but slightly scuffed is a mess. Keep a stick polish on hand for quick fixes for leather shoes. Suede and other fabrics can be spot-cleaned with the right products from a shoe retailer and it’ll be cheaper than buying a new pair of your old faves.
Wear what feels good
Number one rule, above all else - you should feel comfortable and confident in what you’re wearing. The best accessory is always a smile.
About the Author
Julia Hammond is a Melbourne based lifestyle blogger who currently publishes weekly content over on the MyDeal.com.au blog. She can also be found guest posting on great websites and loves to write about all things work, life and health.