Mistakes I Made #11 – Dressing Wrong for My Target Audience. I Don’t Anymore.

Sitting down to write this article and the story that comes to mind is Miss Congeniality. (Don’t laugh at me, just go with it)

I know you saw the ugly duckling Sandra Bullock transformed one brush stroke at a time, into a beautiful swan by a team of experts dazzling up her hair, makeup, posture and wardrobe, and wow what a difference it made. You can say what you want but looking good goes a long way, in and out of business.
The right outfit can make or break a deal, especially if you are in a client facing role. And again, I learned this the hard way.
I’d come to work dressed in pretty much whatever felt comfortable, and I remember some clients looking at me as if to say, “did you even shower this week?” I even lost some deals because of it.

So, taking pride in your appearance and dressing to impress can be the difference between a client taking you seriously or seeing you as a joke; a laughable mess.

I even found that people didn’t respect my business when I represented myself in a scruffy way. Now I didn’t have a team of experts helping me out, I had to go it alone and figure it out myself.

I had to research my target audience, their likes, dislikes and learn how to dress according to them and my industry, and you’ll have to do that too.

But it certainly paid off in the long run. I even noticed a slight increase in my sales because of it. Yes, you read that correctly!

It really taught me the value of a good first impression, trust me it counts.

If you care about your appearance, people automatically think you add that same value to your business and your clients. I know they say don’t judge a book by its cover, but unfortunately, it’s human nature.

Whether you are corporate or not, a professional representation sure goes a long way, and does a world of good for your brand.

Also bear in mind though your body language and your attitude. No matter how great your outfit is, the wrong attitude can ruin it forever.

A smile goes a long way and a firm handshake instills confidence in you and your abilities. But on top of all that don’t forget a great cologne, or perfume to complete your look. It’s the cherry on top of a great outfit.

But enough of the soppy stuff, let’s take a look at some dress styles to clarify what is best for the workplace.

The Casual Look.

This would be your every-day out -and-about, just for fun jeans-and-a-T look, it usually is not appropriate for the workplace unless you have a really fun job at Google or a t-shirt company.

The Business or Professional Look.

Client facing positions and formal fortune 100-500 companies usually require this look which would consist of a well pressed business suit. Men are required to wear a long-tie and women a knee length skirt or long pant suit.

The Business-Casual Look.

This is the look most companies go for these days if employees are office bound. A formal shirt with Jeans or a suit pant with golf shirt and dress shoes. If your company allows this, don’t take advantage, keep it smart.

The Formal Look.

You’ll only ever wear formal wear for specific formal evening gatherings, parties and shows. It requires men to wear a suit and women an evening gown. Daytime formal wear can easily transition from day to evening wear.

The Black Tie Look.

The crème de la crème of looking good. Black tie events require men to wear a penguin suit or tuxedo with a black bow-tie. It is super prestigious, and people dress to the nines. This is not usually required in the workplace but rather high-end events, fundraisers and the like.

The Uniform.

Never underestimate the power of a uniform.

This is a great way to represent your brand and create awareness at events and out of office get togethers.

A uniform can be as simple as a golf shirt with your logo that can be worn with black trousers or dark jeans.

This saves your employees a lot of money on clothing, and ensures people are always dressed appropriately for their job and client encounters. It also creates a sense of uniformity and brings your team together.

There are companies that can brand specific logos on your uniforms, incorporate your company colours and so on. But if you go this route remember to pick a style that suits all shapes and sizes, one size fits all is an illusion, don’t fall in that trap.

Now you can see why I had to leave the boy in me at home and suit up when I went to the office.

If you can afford it, getting a helping hand from a personal stylist or personal shopper won’t hurt to get you started on the right direction.

As the expression goes, “No matter what, get up, dress up and show up!”