BUSINESS: How do you dress for success?

Posted on 4/11/2012 by Matt Walters

How do you dress for success?

I am amazed at what I see when I visit offices or am introduced to people at daytime meetings.  I get that you can be making 6 figures or more at be 24 years old, but going to worked in faded denim, t-shirts and tennis shoes;  do these people think it is a status symbol to dress like you're homeless or just rolled our of bed to attend a meeting?  On the other hand, I have met with business owners who work from home in agriculture businesses and show up looking like they came off a page in Esquire magazine.

I believe this shows the dramatic shift that has occurred in business attire in the past decade as different industries and age groups have developed their own set of acceptable business attire rules.

When I started my career working as a hotel sales manager, I paid close attention to GQ magazine and referred to my copy of 'Dress for Success'.  The idea was simple "Dress to Impress".  I think we have lost the importance of a first impression and how that translates into judgements, perceptions and long-term relationships with propestive customers.  Always being a sales person, I have always been a firm believer that first impressions do matter and there are some very simple rules to follow when interacting with other businesses or industries.

Know your audience.

Before you meet with someone, you should know that company's dress code. "Business casual" has a lot of meanings. Call the front desk at the company and ask what the company's dress code is and what the men and women wear.  Part of your responsibility is to understand that company's culture, including its dress code.  Ask for examples, especially of the senior most person who will be in your meeting.

Customers coming to you.

Think of driving in to the valet at a Four Seasons Resort.  Depending on whether you are in an urban area, a tropical island or a suburban golf resort, the staff is dressed to set the tone of the primary reason why you are there.  When customers meet you or your staff, does your attire present what you product represents and the image you would like to project?

Always dress up one step.

If the person you are meeting with is in denim, you wear khaki. They wear sport coats without ties; you are in suits without ties. The point is that you always dress one step further up the clothing ladder than your prospect, but not two. One step says that you respect and value them. Two steps can send a loaded message.

It's not just what you wear--but how you wear it.

Without exception you should always have polished shoes, pressed shirts and well-fitted pants with a belt that matches your shoes.  I am sure you are thinking, "Really, people don't know this one by now?"  and others of you are thinking "How do I iron a shirt?".  When your clothes are pressed, buttoned down and well-fitted, you convey that you are a person who pays attention to the details and are professional 

Grooming always trumps style.

Hygiene Matters!  Picture yourself or someone else, if you're wearing an awesome Hugo Boss suit but you haven't been to the barber in a couple of months, you'll give a bad impression.   Be aware of grooming essentials that matter:  fingernails, facial hair, haircuts and oral hygiene.

What is your company's 'uniform'?

When I worked for Hyatt, we were strongly encouraged to wear white dress shirts, and choice of black, navy or dark grey suits.  As much as I didn't like being bound to these restrictions, I understood that the company views its staff as an extension of the brand.   The purpose of every company is to sell something and it doesn't matter what the product is.  The point is, be aware and proud of your companies culture and identity.

View yourself from an outsiders perspective - you can dress in a way where your clothing and appearance is the only thing people remember or you can dress in a way that contributes to the message your company brings to them.

Matt Walters - Grape Leaf Hospitality - Passionate Hospitality Expert. Marketing for Hotels, Wine Tourism, Lodging, Inns and B&B's.



Marketing, dress for success, business casual, business attire

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