I’m not superstitious, but I do admit to having certain clothes in my wardrobe that I choose to wear when I have an important meeting. Somehow, these items give me assurance that my appearance is suitable. Thus, I am less self-conscious and can focus on the subject matter and pay attention to my audience. I suppose this is my way to dress for success. At any rate, it’s something that is within my control and frees up part of my brain to concentrate on more important issues.
Dress for success still matters
For better or worse, we have become a more relaxed society. Formalities in the workplace, dining etiquette and clothing have all taken on an air of casualness. Due in part to the pandemic, a friend mentioned he hasn’t worn pants with belt loops for three years! This informality may be caused by the influx of millennials into the workforce or the changing client landscape. Still, the concept of dress for success shows respect for others and can help establish your personal brand.
Appearance is powerful
There is an abundance of support to show how attractive people earn a higher salary, are more promotable and are considered professional, trustworthy and credible. What’s more, first impressions can make or break even the most spontaneous of relationships.
I recall the impression made by a new general manager to a television station I worked for two decades ago. Each day, this man accessorized his suit with suspenders, cuff links and pocket square. Indeed, he looked very “GQ” but was welcoming and approachable. His manner was warm and friendly but there was no doubt who held the senior position. Quickly, he inspired other staffers to step up their fashion game.
Corporate culture is reflected in dress codes
Depending on your industry, your position and socio-economic factors, your dress code will vary. In some companies, dress codes are designed to minimize distractions, maintain safe conditions or establish uniformity. According to successstory.com, adhering to dress codes contributes to higher productivity and team building. Some companies encourage “casual Fridays” or alter dress codes for events intended to help retain employees. Regardless, your decision to dress for success can be one of a personal nature.
How you dress is a form of communication
More accurately, how you dress communicates a perception in others as to how they see you. Psychologists call it a halo effect: an error in reasoning in which an impression formed from a single characteristic influences multiple judgments of unrelated factors. To clarify, how you dress transfers many messages that you cannot control. Just as you strive to communicate clearly, you should dress to distinctly define your brand. Irrespective of the halo effect, when you dress for success, you should attempt to look your best for your industry and environment and appear ready for leadership opportunities.
How to dress for sales success
Often your prospect will determine the most appropriate sales attire. Dressing well will not close the deal for you. However, dressing wrong can cost you the deal before your car cools down in the parking lot. Jobsite sales calls require special attention. Heels or loafers may not be the best choice for visiting a construction trailer, and you need to be mindful of safety regulations at certain locations. If you are wearing a jacket and your prospect is bare-armed, take a moment to mimic as closely as possible their appearance.
You can rarely go wrong with high quality, well-fitted apparel that is clean and wrinkle-free. Skirts or dress pants, rather than jeans, show that you are making an effort, just as long-sleeve collared shirts or blouses are preferable to short sleeves. Scruffy casual is acceptable in some instances. However, it’s not only about clothes. Give special attention to your skin, hair and nails too.
Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com
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