As the office work environment has started to become a thing of the past, so have its rules and regulations, including its dress code. As a freelancer, nobody is ever going to call you into their office and politely but condescendingly ask you to wear a longer skirt or cover up your cleavage in future, or to tuck your shirt in and refrain from wearing a Playboy necktie in future. It doesn’t matter to other people what you wear when you’re at work most of the time, as nobody can see you. If they are communicating with you via video calls, then it’s best not to be naked, at least from the waist up, but they won’t expect you to be in business attire. Comfort is the order of the day, and that’s most likely going to be reflected in what you wear.
All of that goes out of the window when you need to make a great first impression on someone. Perhaps you have a meeting with a potential investor, or you’re going to give a sales pitch to the board of an old-school company. Maybe it’s a networking event or a trade show you’re attending. Whatever it is, you’re sure that turning up in your pajamas is not going to do you any favors. But what should you wear? Will you need to go shopping? If so, don’t worry – you will only need one outfit and it will last you for a long time. Buy the best quality you can and take care of it when you put it away. Take care of your suit and it will take care of you.
Rather than trying to shop around and buy something off the shelf, it’s a much better idea to go to a professional tailor to get an outfit made especially for you. If this sounds expensive where you live, you could try to combine it with any business trips or vacations you may have in places like India, Thailand and China, where there are many excellent tailors who can make you a great outfit for a much lower price than in Europe or North America.
First, choose your shoes. Business shoes will not be overly flashy. Go for quality material and comfort. The color and design will be smart and simple. There may be an elevated heel, but you’re not going to get the look you need if it starts to look more like a stiletto. Black is both safe and classy. Make sure you have them shined before your meeting.
The material you choose for your suit will depend on the climate you intend to wear it in. It’s more difficult to find great material for suits to wear in tropical climates, so make sure you discuss this thoroughly with your tailor. As for the color, black, gray and blue are all traditional colors which fit in with corporate culture in most of the world. If you want to try to show more character and individuality, that is up to you – that kind of approach may be welcomed in western countries much more than it is in East Asian countries, however.
Don’t go crazy with the bling – simple, elegant jewelry such as a ring, a bracelet, a brooch, a necklace, studded earrings are good (but perhaps not all at the same time). A medallion, a sovereign ring, a gold chain and so on, will give you the air of a conman or woman who hasn’t much experience in business. When it comes to jewelry and accessories, if in doubt, leave it out.
Make sure that you are well groomed, clean and smell good. Don’t overdo it with the aftershave or perfume. Be aware of what your haircut says to others. You may think that you Mohawk tells others how brave and independent minded you are, but others may see you as naïve, rude and unrealistic. Ladies, try to avoid tying your hair up and risking appearing like an air stewardess. Let your hair flow down elegantly, if it has length. Take a look at the Hair Straightener Studio and see if you would benefit from going for a straight, classier look.
Always remember to smile and be polite.