Dressing for success includes your outfit, personal grooming, and accessories. Clients and investors pay attention to details, and so should you. Even the briefcase you select says something about who you are.
Pulling together an overall corporate image is especially important for work-at-home moms, and businesswomen who work from home. To get big clients and contracts, your business needs to appear successful; already large enough to handle the customer’s needs.
Looking “frumpy” or like you just came from the grocery store, conveys a message that you may not take business meetings seriously.
The following tips for adding accessories to your business wardrobe will help you look your very best.
It is fine to wear tasteful scarves in the office; just make sure they are accessory scarves and not winter wear. Tie your scarf in an infinity knot or go with a simple knot -- resist the urge to be trendy and tuck it into your belt.
Choose colors that complement your overall look and not that compete with it. If you wear a chunky scarf, size down your jewelry (and skip wearing a necklace).
Avoid wearing large or costume jewelry. Earrings should be conservative and small. Necklaces should not dangle between cleavage, and bracelets should not make noise. Do not wear ankle bracelets, but do wear a conservative watch.
Purse colors should coordinate with your shoe color. A good purse should be small, but easy to open in case you need to find an item inside.
Pantyhose should be a neutral tone and compliment your suit or dress. Avoid wearing hosiery with patterns and lines. Carry a bottle of clear nail polish in your purse to dab on snags and runs to stop them from spreading down your leg.
Briefcases and Portfolios
Portfolios and padfolios are preferred over briefcases and should be padded in a neutral color. If you take a briefcase, it should be as small as is practical for your needs and made of leather in a neutral color.
If you do not need a briefcase don’t bring one just for show. Never use a shopping bag, book bag, or backpack in place of a briefcase.
Your Car, Another Accessory
Your car is not an accessory that you wear, but it is an accessory you are likely to take to business functions. Always keep the inside of your car clean and free of children’s toys and clutter.
How well you keep your car organized is a reflection of the state of your life. If your car is a cluttered closet on wheels, it sends the message you are too busy to tend to things, or that you just don’t care about your image. Treat your car as another potential message to clients about how you run your business.
After a meeting with my first potential investor, he asked if he could walk me to my car. When I opened my car door, he took a quick casual glance inside and then extended a firm handshake to thank me for presenting my business idea. The next day he offered to invest the full $5,000 I needed to get started on a new business venture.
The investor explained the “clean car” test was something he used to assess how organized and efficient a person was. If their car was a disorganized mess, he assumed that the chaos would extend into their professional life as well.
Not everyone is this calculating in their decisions, but everyone looks at outward appearances and makes quick judgments about what the little things say about a person.
Accessories like makeup, jewelry, and even your car should not be overlooked. They are tools that you can use to convey a positive and winning message about yourself and your ability to succeed.