Traditional work attire can seem antiquated in today’s business world. With shifts in company culture, employees are often encouraged to dress more casually in the office. While a set of clothes can never make the professional, there’s a science behind proper business attire.
The Real Reason Behind Proper Attire
While it’s been the case of many a wrongful termination lawsuit, there’s meaning behind the term “dress for success.” Classic business attire tells others that you’re a professional, creating a visual image that let’s others know you’re serious about the job.
This is true for both interviews and employees meeting others in the business world. It’s a game of first impressions. When you’re meeting for any form of business dealing, you want to send a message that says you’re someone who can get things done.
This is especially true when meeting clients or other professionals on your employer’s behalf. You might have the best sales pitch or marketing plan in the world, but people are mostly going to remember what you looked like while you presented it. Why? Your attire is part of what sells the message you’re trying to make.
Industries Vary, but the Message is the Same
Dress codes and their importance change from one industry to the next. A fast food employee only needs to wear their company’s designated attire, while a broker needs to head in the complete opposite direction and dress as sharp as possible.
While the outfits differ, the message they send remains the same. The Center for Professional Excellence at York College of Pennsylvania conducted a poll in 2010 that found people ranked appearance second to communication skills. The two go hand in hand when speaking on a professional level.
Developing Your Personal Brand
There’s a lot that goes into personal branding, but your choice of attire is a direct extension of the brand you want to portray. That doesn’t just mean formal attire like a suit, either. Your footwear and accessories all create this persona.
When speaking with a potential employer, what you wear can either diminish or reinforce the skills you have. Dressing for the job also includes understanding your industry. The IT and tech fields require a different look than salespeople or employment law attorneys, for instance.
It’s important to remember that there is no “one-size-fits-all” mentality to dressing professional. However, there are some simple guidelines you can follow. First, be modest. Skip the latest fashions and leisurewear in lieu of something more traditional.
Second, watch out for casual Fridays. It’s alright to dress down according to your company’s guidelines, but you want to convey the same message you’ve sent through the rest of the week. Third, be comfortable. Dressing professionally doesn’t mean stiff or tight clothing.
Finally, combine your attire with your attitude. Professional etiquette is equally as important as your choice in clothing. Together they create the image you send to business world. Keep them both work-minded, positive, and clean.
Above all else, remember that dressing for the job is about the impression you want to make. It’s your personal brand, your message to the business world, and the first thing people notice when you meet them.