I’m often amazed how drastically standards for business attire have fallen. My feeling is you should always err on the side of being too egalitarian. This goes for both the office and when dealing with prospects and clients.
A couple of rules of thumb:
- Always dress slightly better than the person you are meeting with. You would never walk into a lumber yard with a tuxedo, nor would you walk in wearing blue jeans and t-shirt. Be smart.
- Men – you don’t always need a tie, but you will never go wrong. Same goes with a sports jacket or suit combination. Remember, you are a professional. Mock sweaters worn with a suit or jacket are great. Dress shirt without a tie and a jacket is acceptable in most places, but may not be in others. Do your homework. Ask someone what expectations are.
- Women – I’m not an expert on women’s business attire, but suffice it to say you know what is acceptable and not better than men do. You can’t go wrong with a smart business suit. Any women reading this, please chime in…I can use the help!
- If in doubt, dress better. You can always remove a tie; it’s tough to find one at the meeting.
Business attire has changed drastically, especially on the West Coast. Be smart. I fully admit being caught in situations where I had wished I could stop time and change into more appropriate clothes. Don’t take the risk when dealing with clients and prospects. It’s better to be more formal than less.
© 2010 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved