The line between the way we dress for work and the way we dress at home is becoming more and more blurred. Are employers and employees becoming too casual for the workplace?
Ask yourself this question: Would you trust the lawyer in a suit, or would you trust the lawyer in skinny jeans, tennis shoes and a T-shirt?
The answer is obvious.
First impressions have the ability to shape our entire perception, which is why it’s important for you to look the part in whatever role you play in the organization.
When it comes down to it, most professions have an element of sales, and sales starts with the salesperson. The way you dress when meeting with both customers and employees often determines whether you get off on the right foot.
As a Salesperson
Put yourself in the position of a potential customer. Before you even say anything, your customer will likely make a judgment about you based on your appearance. A person’s first impression is formed within about 17 seconds of first meeting you. Those 17 seconds will account for more than 50 percent of that person’s opinion of you moving forward.
Remember, salespeople represent the company. Your sales team, and any employees who might have interaction with customers, should dress in a way that immediately portrays them as respectable in that industry and makes you easily identifiable to a customer.
Keep in mind that the way you dress is also a way to show respect to your customers. Would you like it if your home improvement contractor walked into your home with muddy boots, ripped jeans, and a stained shirt? No, not only because the contractor has disrespected your home, but also because it is a clear indicator of the level of professionalism and quality of work he or she will bring to the table.
As an Employee
Your business dress portrays a level of trust. This is true not just with customers but also with your employer. One of your goals as an employee is to be trusted by your boss because as you gain more trust, you’ll be given more responsibility. More responsibility can mean a bigger paycheck for you.
The last thing you want to do as an employee is look like you don’t care about the company or its success. Too much casual dress in the workplace communicates that you don’t take your job seriously enough to make an effort.
Do you want to earn more money and advance within the company? Then dress like someone that can be trusted with added responsibility. Here’s a hint. Take a look at what your managers are wearing to work, and mimic their style.
As a Manager
Think about your role as a manager. It’s your responsibility to make decisions, give assignments, exercise authority, and grow the company. Ask yourself, could your decisions be doubted because of the way you dress? Could your employees consider your assignments secondary because you never make a good first impression? Could your authority be undermined because you don’t look like a manager?
You didn’t rise to a managerial position because you were sloppy—don’t let good business habits fall by the wayside because you’re a boss now. The most important thing your employees need is to be able to take you seriously. You set the standard of conduct and dress for your workplace.
Think about successful workplace leaders you’ve had in the past, and model yourself after them. Be a good example, and present yourself in a way that both reflects the high standards of the company as well as your high standards for yourself.
Dressing for work usually falls under three different categories. Casual, Business Casual, and Business Professional. Here are the differences between the three:
Make sure, no matter what style of dress your company chooses to embrace, that you present an overall image of cleanliness, respect, and authority as a professional.