Dressing for success as an entrepreneur can be a challenge. Your company culture, your clients, your location and your comfort level, can all factor into deciding what works best for your small business. Television shows like “What Not to Wear” illustrate what fashions are in style and how to achieve similar looks. The show also reiterates that the image you project through your attire can have great meaning and speak to your level of confidence. Perhaps most significantly, how you dress and present yourself can make or break a sale depending on whether a potential customer takes you seriously and trusts you with their business.
So how do you know what to wear? Business suits or golf shirts and khakis? A skirt or slacks? Or, something else? The following are some tips to keep in mind as you determine not only what you wear to work, but also the dress code you want to establish for your small business.
- Bear in mind that, in some “roll-up-your-sleeves” work environments, business casual is not only appreciated but may help boost productivity, raise morale and create a team-oriented culture (think software start-ups, music industry businesses). Casual dress is becoming more and more common in all industries. In fact, 75 percent of U.S. workers dressed casually on a daily basis, according to a survey from a major clothing manufacturer.
- If you do have a casual dress policy, even if it’s only on Fridays, be sure you’re clear about what constitutes casual dress, and what does not. Employees may not realize that there’s a big difference between a t-shirt and jeans versus an unstructured jacket and baseball cap. Some employees may take casual dressing too far.
- In challenging economic times, even laid-back companies are returning to the business suit – especially for customer meetings. Customers have said they feel more at ease entrusting accounting and legal services to someone who looks both serious and prosperous.
- Dressing formally doesn’t mean being flashy or showing off. Wherever you shop at, make sure your suit is well tailored and well fitting with a secure hem. Your shoes should be polished. Consider things besides your clothes when contemplating your appearance. Haircuts and make up (for women) should be neat and understated.
- When in doubt on how to dress, it’s generally better to over-dress than under-dress by preparing for the most formal possibility. Keep a blazer in the office – in the event you need to give your look a more professional edge.
Lastly, it’s important to be comfortable with what you’re wearing so that you’re able to concentrate on your work. It’s possible to dress to impress – while keeping your individuality. At the end of the day, you should always feel like yourself.
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