8 Dress and Style Tips for Presenting to Investors
Dressing well won't guarantee that you'll get funding, but it could help you form a strong first impression and close the gap.
One of the most exciting (and nerve wracking) phases of entrepreneurship is presenting to investors. This is your opportunity to get the capital you need to turn your amazing business plan into reality. Or it could be a harsh wakeup call that your business idea isn’t as groundbreaking as you think it is.
Before investors are willing to provide funding to your business, they’ll need to be convinced that you’re worth funding. In addition to having a good business strategy, you need to make a good first impression — which means dressing the part.
Dressing well won’t guarantee that you’ll get the funding you need, but it could help you form a strong first impression and close the gap if investors are on the fence. Here's how to do it.
1. Invest in full-grain leather
Full-grain leather is the highest quality of leather that you can get. It includes the top layer of hide and showcases the natural grain on the material. If you can afford a touch of full-grain leather in your wardrobe, such as on a belt or in the form of a handbag, it can really make you shine.
2. Get the right fit
It’s also important to get the right fit. Your clothes should be professionally tailored no matter what, giving you an authoritative, sleek appearance. If any of your clothes are too baggy, too long, too short or otherwise an imperfect fit, it’s going to signal a lack of care or sloppiness about yourself. Fortunately, tailoring isn’t super expensive, so you should be able to afford custom tailoring for your entire wardrobe. If you have a limited budget, it’s often better to buy an inexpensive item of clothing then pay to have it tailored than to buy something expensive and leave it ill-fitting.
3. Dress conservatively
It’s often tempting to make a big impression with a bold choice; after all, you want to signal confidence and creativity. However, it’s usually better to dress conservatively in situations like this. Your investors are considering injecting a massive amount of capital into your business. This is a serious financial risk for them, so they’re going to take you seriously by default. No investor is going to be upset that you dressed too formally or that you took your role too seriously. However, if you dress too informally, it will raise some eyebrows. Stick to basic, plain colors and dark tones.
4. Err on the side of formality
Along similar lines, it’s a good idea to err on the side of formality. In some cases, you’ll have a clear indication of how you’re supposed to dress. There might be a specifically requested dress code, or you might have a sense for the investor’s preferred style of dress. In other cases, you’ll be making an educated guess. If you’re not sure, it’s better to dress too formally than too informally. Choose your outfit accordingly.
5. Show off your style
That said, you also don’t want to blend in with the crowd. Investors are often talking to multiple entrepreneurs simultaneously, and they probably meet dozens, or even hundreds, of new people every week. If you dress exactly like everyone else, you’re going to have a harder time making a memorable first impression. Try showing off your personality and your style a bit without breaking any rules of formality. For example, you could wear a unique watch or a ring that shows off your signature style.
6. Avoid over-polishing
It’s a good idea to give yourself a kind of “final polish” before presenting to investors; for example, you’ll want to look in a mirror to clear the spinach from your teeth and ensure your clothes don’t have mystery wrinkles or stains showing up. However, there’s such a thing as “over-polishing.” If your hair is thickly greased back, you wear too much cologne, and you otherwise look unnatural, it could make you appear like an amateur or seem insincere.
7. Be comfortable
Similarly, even though it’s important to dress well, you also need to feel comfortable in your own clothes. Whatever you choose to wear should be flexible, breathable and something you genuinely like. If you feel uncomfortable, you’re probably going to look uncomfortable and not very confident.
8. Get feeback from others
If you’re not feeling especially confident in your ability to dress professionally, or make a better first impression, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Talk to the salespeople at your chosen clothing stores, your spouse, your colleagues and your mentors (if you have them). A little bit of outside perspective can help you figure out how you really look to others.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor
Anna Johansson is a freelance writer who specializes in social media and business development.