Dressing it up: What to wear in the workplace
Knowing what to wear to work can be a tricky issue for those entering a new environment. Because the rulebook for what to wear in the office seems to have been ripped up in more recent times, it’s easier to make mistakes and get it wrong.
So, if clothes do maketh the man (and the woman), should we be extra careful of what we choose to wear to work, or to a meeting, or can we allow ourselves to relax and become more comfortable about dressing to fit our setting? After all, if convention is disappearing in the office and it is becoming a more fluid environment, what we wear shouldn’t matter so much any more.
It’s true that today’s office has become much more relaxed overall; it doesn’t feel as important to be mindful of our professional attire as used to be the case.
There seems to have been a general relaxing of the dress code over the last decade and we’re all far less corporate than we used to be.
This is particularly reflective of sectors that are ‘younger’, like IT and digital consultancies, or those that are more creative such as arts and the media.
At Saracen, we have a fair number of clients who are tech and media agencies and the majority of their employees are as likely to be in jeans and a T-shirt as they are to be in shirts and a suit.
In fact, in a lot of these offices, casual dress is most definitely the norm and we’re sensitive to that when we go in for a meeting with these clients.
People like doing business with people who are similar to them; there’s something to be said for dressing in accordance with who you’re sitting down with and our team always considers the company that they are visiting and dresses to mirror their corporate style.
The psychology behind it is simple: You will put colleagues and associates significantly more at ease if you are dressed in a similar manner.
It implies that you are on a level footing and that you are likely to better understand both them and their business.
In short, it puts you on the same page and infers that you fit, and belong in, the gang.
And it really is all about fitting in. If going to visit a company in a sector that is traditionally more formal, I prefer to err on the side of caution and would always wear a shirt and suit, if not a tie.
It’s critical to remain respectful of an environment and to give off the right signals.
Note that there are charitable initiatives that are specifically set up to help people to dress who are returning to work. The fact that this one aspect is taken so seriously speaks volumes.
The old adage still rings true, first impressions count and so the style you choose to convey to the outside world – and to new clients – is important.
Like it or not, we are, at least initially, always judged on how we look. It’s important to get it right as your appearance may impact, even in a small way, on how successful the meeting is.
Get it right and it could be the start of a long-term business relationship. Gage the tone wrong and you risk stepping over onto the wrong side of the line.