It’s so easy to allow style to be an afterthought when running a business. You may think “I work from home, so I don’t need much of a work wardrobe” or “I don’t need to be stylish to be successful as an entrepreneur.” But what you may not realize is just how much you communicate with the clothing you wear!
We all know nonverbal communication is powerful. A person may look at you and draw aaaaall kinds of conclusions about your business based on your outward appearance! It’s true. Sporting an outfit with joggers or an outfit with slacks will communicate two very different things about you, your personality, and the way you manage your business.
So how should someone go about making the right wardrobe decisions when owning a business? Let’s first look at the 5 style mistakes I often see entrepreneurs making when it comes to their wardrobe:
1. They’re too casual.
Yes, we all know you run your empire in your socks and sweats. But the rest of us want to see you looking competent when we meet you for the first time! Not sure what competent looks like? Think fitted ankle pant rather than baggy bootcut trousers. We assume you’re behind the times in your business when you’re behind the times in your wardrobe!
2. They prioritize name brand over fit.
You can wear name brand pieces all day long and communicate the exact opposite of what you hope to if your pieces don’t fit you correctly. A name brand piece can look sloppy and disheveled when it isn’t flattering, and in order to understand what’s flattering, it’s important to be familiar with your shape and what you feel best in. I would rather you buy clothing from Target over Nordstrom any day if it means you’ll wear a flattering fit!
3. They think it’s all or nothing.
Do you have the mentality that you need ALL flattering clothes in your wardrobe or none at all? The truth is that most of us who run a business don’t see clients every day and spend quite a bit of time working from home. But on client-facing days, do you have the right pieces to wear? It’s important to get clear on WHAT message you want to send about you and your business before walking out the door to see a client. You may only need a few go-to outfits depending on how often you see clients! Even as a stylist, I’ll often wear the same 2-5 outfits from week to week when I’m working with clients.
4. They don’t match the clothing in their closet to their business and brand.
If you have a personal brand, there’s a good chance your brand will align with your personal style. For example, a person who shows up to a networking event in a black leather jacket and skull tee (something I don’t recommend, by the way) will most likely NOT hand out a business card adorned with light pinks and florals. If you’re the creator of your brand, you’ll likely be able to match up your brand image with your personal image! My brand colors are yellow, coral, and teal, and you’ll often see me wearing one of those colors when I’m working with a client.
5. They don’t plan.
This one includes most of us, entrepreneur or not! Do you plan out your trips to the mall with a list of specific styles you need? Do you KNOW what styles you need, or where the gaps exist in your wardrobe? Most of us will hurry to the mall a day or two in advance of a special event, client meeting, or work trip without creating a detailed shopping list. Talk about stressful!
In an upcoming article, I’ll be talking about what TO do in place of the 5 mistakes I detail above. What’s too casual, and what’s too dressy? What places should you shop for clothing, especially if you don’t have the budget for name brand pieces? How many client-facing outfits should you aim to own? And finally, how should you go about shopping for the gaps in your wardrobe?
If you enjoyed this article, make sure to grab Sandi’s free outfit guide, “5 Surprisingly Versatile Pieces to Wear Year Round” by visiting her website at www.sandimele.com.