Every business person sells either a service or a product, and the first thing that ever gets sold is you. Sales people who look good are more confident, more assertive and most importantly, more productive. Some industries (IT, entertainment and media ) have a more casual dress code but in the sales industries you have to respect your clients and therefore dress accordingly. What you wear is one of your most visible credentials and if you take time and effort with your appearance it will definitely contribute to your success. Regardless of the type of company you work for, you need to have your own ‘personal brand’ which is made up of the way you look, how you act and how you behave. The financial industry has a more conservative dress code, so appropriate dress would be dark or pin-stripe suits with crisp shirts and smart ties. Dark colours and classic neutrals are the best choices for bottom garments, jackets as well as basic accessories. Brighter colours and pastels work well for less formal working environments and business casual.
Start by putting together a core working wardrobe – rather have a selection of well cut outfits that are flattering than a cupboard full of cheaper garments that are the incorrect style for you, whether you’re matching them to a pair by Sam Endleman or more formal footwear. A suggested business wardrobe for men could start with a black or charcoal suit, a pinstripe suit, and a neutral suit. These would be complemented with crisp white shirts, a dark blue or light blue shirt, a cream or beige shirt and then for variety, a striped shirt and a checked shirt (black, stone and white is a good combination as it will go with all your suits). Add to this black pants, a pair of charcoal pants and a stone pair.
Similarly, a core business wardrobe for women:
Jacket of colour ( i.e pink, blue, red )
Patterned jacket ( i.e striped, houndstooth, black with small white dot)
Two white shirts (one shirt tapered or with tucks and one softer – i.e cross-over )
Patterned shirt (small patterns , not large )
Warm colour top (i.e pink, red, orange, burgundy )
Cool colour top (i.e blue or green )
Neutral top (cream or brown )
A selection of black tops (short and long sleeved )
A basic black skirt (try to wear a skirt at least once a week to completely change your look).
Inappropriate items for the sales environment would be low-cut and revealing tops (including shoestring straps, bling and low back), pants low enough to expose your underwear, casual cargo pants, too tight or torn denims (if you are allowed to wear denims, dark blue is best – you cannot dress up light blue denims!)
T-shirts, flat slip-on shoes or thong sandals are out. So are too- short skirts (4-6 cms above the knee is appropriate but nothing shorter!) Funky jewellery – chandelier earrings, big chunky bracelets, charm bracelets are not corporate.
Accessories to invest in include a good bag/laptop bag, shoes, belt, and watch – these are all things that get noticed. Good grooming shows that you value yourself which is essential in the working environment – if you take yourself seriously, so will everyone else.No matter what you decide to wear rule number one is that it must be neat and clean, so don’t forget that it is no more expensive buying a suit or outfit in a flattering colour than in a draining, unflattering one. Always beware of under-dressing. Rather over-dress as you can always remove a jacket or tie if need be. If you want to get ahead in the workplace, always project a professional image, no matter what industry you are in and remember that your business wardrobe is an investment in your professional future!