It is often said that the success of a professional depends on what lies between the ears rather than what he wears below the neck. While there might be an iota of truth in this saying it is not entirely true. What you wear to work is important especially for professionals for whom looking right in front of clients is as important as their power point presentations. For example, a property lawyer in Melbourne seeking to guide and advice a client on multimillion dollar property deals can hardly be expected to be dressed in open collar shirts, jeans and loafers.
Before going into what exactly is dressing for success, it will be relevant to know what business attire is. It is the clothing that one wears to work and depends solely upon the type of workplace and the extent of formality – or informality- that is required. Business casual dress typically includes slacks and khakis, open collar or polo shirt and a dress or knee-length or below skirt for women. Business professional dress includes skirt or pants suit for women, and blazer or suit jacket with button down shirt and tie for men with dress shoes.
Professionals have to dress for success especially as they have to interact with clients on a regular basis. Correct attire sends a signal that you are serious about your job and would want to impress your client and clinch the deal. You must project an image that you are a knowledgeable professional and that you can be trusted to deliver. However, it is not every day that you have to face such a situation and comfort levels should be crucial for you too.
When professionals have to dress for formal occasions, there is a certain dress code that needs to be followed. The standard for men and women is a suit, pants or skirts, a jacket and dress shoes. Matching tie for men is mandatory and its width should depend on the prevailing fashion. Accessories should be light and subdued, say ear studs instead of long dangling earrings. For men too, a ring and a tie pin should be enough. However, whatever is worn should be neat, well pressed and not wrinkled. Frayed or dirty cuffs and torn clothing is definitely not acceptable.
For professionals, there are certain dress-down days, usually Fridays where some amount of laxity in formal attire is allowed. Clothing with company logo is usually encouraged on these days as is clothes with fashion brand names. However, do not wear anything that has writing on it which can affect the sensibilities of other employees. However, even for these days it is always advisable to keep a jacket handy should a client in formal wear drop by.
At the end of the day, the importance of dress code cannot be overemphasized. In some fields, particular form of dress has almost merged with the profession. Take the case of bankers and finance professionals. Dark coloured suits with a mellowed down tie colour is almost the norm. Anything else would go against the grain of this particular category.
Dress appropriately and get a measure of success in your profession.