Dressing for Success

Dressing succesfully

Recently, I had a conversation with a very successful business owner about proper work attire. We discussed how casual the workplace had become, and he made a very interesting point. He expressed a concern for young people today that are unable to let go of “casual” when professional attire is necessary. To him, dressing for success means several professional business suits should be considered an investment in a person’s image.

He couldn’t understand why a person would think of entering the business world without a proper, well-balanced wardrobe. “If you spent that much money on an education, why wouldn’t you invest in several professional suits?” Going into the corporate world without a business suit is like going to war without bullets. Why would you do it?

Here are some examples of when a professional suit is necessary:

  • Interview
  • Meeting with boss
  • Meeting with client
  • Presentations
  • Prospecting
  • Weddings
  • Dinner at an upscale restaurant
  • Funerals
  • Fundraisers
  • Church

Today we have become very casual and many employers allow us to be comfortable in the workplace; however, when we have meetings outside the office and presentations with clients, professional attire is a must. That means we wear belts and shoes that match and are polished. We wear suits that are pressed and tailored to fit properly. When ladies wear skirts, they should hit at the top of the knee so that we do not offend anyone. When you sit down, a skirt slides up two to three inches. We wear a minimal amount of jewelry so that nothing takes away from the content of our conversation. We conceal all tattoos and piercings regardless of how proud we are of the artwork.

Appropriate, professional attire is a must for an individual that is to be respected. This person knows the importance of preparation. You probably wouldn’t do well in a class if you hadn’t purchased the necessary books. A well-balanced wardrobe is an equivalent, for the corporate world. Develop a strategic wardrobe plan that includes appropriate clothing choices for dressing for different occasions. One that is a good balance between professional and casual attire. Consider your wardrobe as an investment in your professional image and in your future.


Colleen Harding is a certified etiquette and protocol instructor and the founder of the Cleveland School of Etiquette and Corporate Protocol. Programs and packages available for children and businesses.