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Five Tips to Optimize Your Appearance for Business Success Clothing is one of the first things people take into consideration when they meet you for the first time.

By Daniel Gerrard

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.


When it comes to business and the various meetings, presentations and conferences that could make or break any startup, it's very easy to get the impression that the validity of your idea is the only thing that matters. That is not true.

In reality, even though the idea is the most crucial element, the appraisals that potential business partners or investors make of you as a person are also essential. These opinions, often formed within minutes or even seconds, are normal parts of human interactions, whether the person conducting them is aware or not. Clothing is one of the first things people take into consideration when they meet you for the first time. If you do it right, it can raise your reputation and make it more likely that people will respond positively to you but if not, it'll have the exact opposite effect.

Here are five tips to make sure you nail the perfect outfit every time it matters:

1. Plan ahead
As with virtually every other area of human activity, planning your outfits well ahead of time will save you time as well as prevent many avoidable mishaps. Of course, it might be impossible to be completely sure where work will take you in the course of a week, but you can use the information you have to prepare your clothing properly and also arrange them into outfits for each day. You don't necessarily have to physically put each outfit together ahead of time, but even taking a few minutes to mentally picture the ensemble you intend to wear through the week can save you a surprising amount of time when you don't have to compare options on a morning when you're about to miss the bus to work. It'll also reduce the likelihood of any fashion faux pa occurring as a result of haste.

2. Do your research
Understanding what's appropriate in your industry is crucial so you don't stick out like a sore thumb at one event or another. If you're moving to a new area or a new company, simply ask someone to give you the rundown. No matter how awkward you might feel, it will be better than how you'd feel on your first day, walking around in slacks and a t-shirt while everyone else is wearing a sports jacket. Pay attention to the nuances of time and place, so you'll know what to wear to specific events. This research is especially important when you're going to be meeting with new people. Do your best to find out what the dress culture is where you'll be meeting them and adapt to it.

3. Make sure you're comfortable
Staying comfortable throughout the day is key if you want to make sure your productivity remains at a good level. When buying clothes, be sure that apart from being fashionable, they are also things that you would be comfortable wearing through the day. There is nothing as distracting and annoying than someone who is constantly adjusting an item of clothing, and you definitely do not want to be that person when you're having an important meeting or presentation. One simple way you can increase your comfort levels drastically is simply by making sure that your clothes fit the way they ought to. Buying off the rack is not necessarily a bad thing, but make sure you find yourself a tailor who can adjust what you buy to fit your physique perfectly.

4. Never be underdressed
If you think that being too dressed-up when going for an evening outing with your friends is bad, consider the alternative- that you're dressed in a casual outfit and have to suddenly meet with an important client. In business circles, it's better to err on the side of formality. The worst that could happen is that people think you're a bit too serious. Depending on your industry, that might not be the best reputation, but it's still better than being thought of as a slouch.

5. Mind the details
The little things that are off about someone's outfit are often the things we remember them by. Whether it's a button that's popped off or scuffed shoes, those details can become distract to the attention of your boss or client and give them the impression (often subconsciously) that you don't have your life together. Pay particular attention to your accessories. They are supposed to compliment your outfit and not overpower it so be certain that you're not putting on anything that's too bogus. One common mistake is wearing glasses that don't fit well and just cannot stay on your face properly. Having to constantly adjust your glasses to prevent them from sliding down your nose is not the best way to make a good impression. Noise is also an important factor with accessories: Don't put on anything that'll make jangling sounds as you move. That just distracts and annoys people around you.

Related: Four Benefits Of Dressing For Success

Daniel Gerrard

Founder of Addiction Helper

Daniel Gerrard is an entrepreneur, a Certified Intervention Professional (CIP) and the founder of Addiction Helper, an addiction helpline committed to helping and supporting not only those with addictions, but their family and friends as well. He previously worked in the stock market as a broker for Lehman Brothers and then for Man Group for almost 15 years.
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