Regardless of what some people might argue, first impressions do count. Even though it is tempting to think that once you are running your own company, you can wear whatever you want, here’s the not so good news: you need to consider how this impacts your business.
What you wear says a lot about you – too casual and you will come across as unprofessional; being overdressed will give the impression that you are trying too hard. Plus your employees will also take their approach to work wear from you so you need to set the standard, in the same way that you set the bar for an efficient and effective working environment.
The term “smart-casual” is often set down in company dress codes and staff handbooks but it can be difficult to gauge just how casual you should be. It largely depends on the industry you work in, although if a uniform is provided then this sets the tone for the business. Otherwise, a successful business owner should err towards the “smart” look and invest in a capsule wardrobe that projects a confident and professional image.
This does not have to cost a fortune, but having the basics such as a good pair of fitted trousers, tailored jacket, well cut skirt, a dark suit and simple tailored dresses are a must. Stick to neutral colours for these staple items so that you can pair them with a number of shirts or blouses in different shades. Avoid tee shirts or strappy tops, particularly when attending corporate events or meeting clients, as this can come across as too casual. In fact, anything you would wear to the beach should stay on the beach and not be worn to the office.
Ironed, wrinkle free and clean clothing show that you make an effort, pay attention to detail and take pride in your appearance. This will give your customers the confidence that you will do the same with the business that they are bringing to you. Neat and tidy hair, smart shoes, clean nails and no broken zips, worn heels or missing buttons are also important, and do hold back on the perfume or aftershave –overpowering scents will detract from the business at hand.
Finally, leather document cases and structured shoulder bags will complete the organised, professional look, along with minimal jewellery. Watches are okay, dangling necklaces and elaborate earrings are not. You want to look like you’re ready to work hard, not party the night away. Fortunately or unfortunately, what you wear will reflect on your business, so if you want to project an air of success, then you’ll have to dress for it.