Dress for success

I get it. You need to dress for success if you deal with people on a person to person basis. If you do any kind of business in the real world, you better look like you know what you’re doing. You better look credible, authoritative, and trustworthy.

This is where the right items of clothing come in. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to get yourself a Brooks Brother suit or you have to buy the very best suit Italy has to offer in the form of Ermenihildo Zegna.

You don’t have to do any of that. You just have to dress the way that they expect you to dress. For example, if you’re dealing with new economy or internet based companies, they probably would expect you to dress casually.

This means that you don’t have to show up to the business meeting at a cafe in a tuxedo. You’re going to stick out like a sore thumb. Nobody wants to do that. In fact, you probably will end up giving them the wrong impression instead of getting them to think, “Yeah, this is the guy I want to do business with and trust with thousands of dollars.”

They probably would be thinking, “Who is this freak? Get me out of here!” Do you see where I’m coming from? So dressing for success, first of all, is contextual. So you have to understand who you’re dressing for, what kind of impression you’re trying to make, and most importantly, what kind of outcome you expect to get from that interaction?

If you’re clueless about one or two or any of these questions, then chances are you’re going to drop the ball.

Dressing for success online

Now, you may be thinking to yourself, “How can I dress for success when I’m doing business online? People are not going to see me or interact with me.” Well, guess again!

You have to dress for success even when you are online. For example, if you’re going to be making a presentation through Skype, what do you think they will see? You can point the webcam to your face, but sometimes, you can move to an extent and they can see what else you’re wearing.

Well, what if you’re bare chested? What if you’re wearing a wife beater shirt? It’s not going to look good. So do yourself a big favor. Dress presentably. Again, you don’t need to overdress. You don’t need to try to come off like somebody that you’re not.

You don’t want to lie. But at the same time, you don’t want to under dress. You don’t want to dress in such a way that you’re making the prospect feel like they’re not important.

How would you think if you are trying to close a million dollar deal via Skype and you are dressing in a raggedy Led Zeppelin t-shirt with food stains on it and a couple of holes? Let me tell you, if I was your client or your prospective partner, I would feel disrespected.

My train of thought would be along the lines, “Well, this person didn’t think enough about this deal or of me to put on something more respectable. This means this person probably doesn’t respect me or thinks that this deal is small potatoes. This person might not be all that professional. What if the deadline is due and I can’t even expect him to wear the right clothing at the appointed time?”

All sorts of thoughts would be flowing through my mind if I were prospective client or partner. Most of them are not going to be very good. Do you see where I’m coming from? So, to dress for success, you have to pay close attention to context. You also have to do the bare minimum.

By bare minimum, I’m not talking about just a thread above being completely buck naked. I’m not talking about that. I’m also not talking about how you appear in your Instagram marketing. I’m talking about the bare minimum that’s acceptable in that context. Now, if you’re trying to close a deal with somebody who is wearing a wife beater shirt, does that give you license to wear a wife beater shirt? Of course not!

You’re going to have to communicate to that person, “Hey, you dress a certain way and I respect that. That’s all good and fine with me. But I hold myself to a different standard. I’m not saying that my standard is superior to yours, but I’m trying to look like a professional here.”

That should be your line of thought. Unfortunately, a lot of people, especially freelancers as well as home based business owners, think that since the prospect dresses at a certain level, they start reading in all sorts of values and value judgments into that person.

A lot of that is off. So hold yourself to a higher standard and you’d be surprised as to how awesome your results can be. It really is all about professionalism. And guess what, this is one thing in the business interaction that you have a lot more control over than you think. Focus on that control. Take complete advantage of it.

Tap the power of a ‘dressed for success’ mindset

Do you have a lucky shirt? I know that’s a weird question to ask but if you think about it, there are certain items of clothing you have that have a different effect on you. Maybe you think they just make you feel more comfortable or bold or confident. Maybe you think they just give you a sense of security or safety. Whatever it is, all of us have these associations with certain clothes we have.

If you want dress for success, find items of clothing that give you a sense of boldness, possibility, and confidence. Mix and match these so you can step out with a can do attitude. A lot of this, obviously, is psychological. It’s not really the clothes per se giving you these feelings. It is your mental choice to make these positive associations.

Still, find those positive associations and set up your wardrobe the right way. This way, when you go to a job interview or you need to make a business presentation, you will feel confident and are ready to take on the world. This mindset is crucial if you truly want to dress for success.