Your Attire Speaks Volumes Before You Open Your Mouth

Dress to impress the audience at your next presentation. Your grooming and sprucing up become part of the message.

learn more about Jacqueline Whitmore

By Jacqueline Whitmore

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Entrepreneurs represent their businesses in every way, whether exhibiting a certain work ethic or sporting a certain appearance. Though they may prefer to be judged by their intelligence and experience, they are also evaluated by their style and attire.

First impressions are formed in an instant and appearance can heavily influence someone's initial opinion of a business leader's personality, competence and capability.

Like it or not, appearance does matter. When you dress and carry yourself in a positive manner, this helps convey to others the business message you're trying to convey. This is especially important in giving presentations, whether the audience is two executives or a thousand.

Presenters who appear put together will be perceived as more knowledgeable and responsible than those who seem disheveled. Impress others at your next important client presentation with the following tips:

Related: How to Dress for a Business Meeting. Yes, Seriously. (Infographic)

1. Dress to boost your confidence.

Everyone knows when that when you look good, you feel better: You're more confident and others treat you with more respect. Your physical presentation should be on par with the quality of your work and the reputation of your business.

Looking your best isn't about vanity. Instead, it's about investing in self-improvement. Keeping high standards for your appearance will help you feel happier and more successful.

2. Send the right message.

There's casual and then there's very casual. The definition of what constitutes a casual outfit has reached an all-time low. Though it may be quick and easy to throw on the first thing you see, your appearance speaks volumes about you.

If you look like you just rolled out of bed, most people will assume you just did. Regardless of the type of business you're in, strive to look your best and live up to the expectations of your audience.

Related: The Stars of Shark Tank on How to Dress for Success

3. Make your appearance a priority.

Many executives put their appearance on the back burner because of obligations to work and family. Although your schedule may be packed, make your appearance a priority on the day of a speech.

Before your presentation, schedule some extra time to select an appropriate outfit. To look your best every day, dedicate resources toward long-term investments like clothing purchases, hair maintenance and self-care.

4. Mirror your audience.

If you're presenting to a set of technology clients, a casual pair of trousers and a button-down shirt may be completely appropriate. Likewise, dressing in a more fashionable outfit may help an artistic crowd connect with you and your message.

But for some scenarios, traditional business attire is the best choice. Don't choose clothes for your own comfort. Instead, dress for the comfort of your client. When in doubt, follow your client's lead and dress just a notch above that level.

5. Make the most of your budget.

Many professionals feel they can't afford to be fashionable, but you can show your personal style without overspending.

Rather than investing in a large wardrobe, choose quality over quantity. Purchase only the items that send the message you want to convey. Classic pieces that fit and flatter your body will help you look your best for any presentation.

6. Details can amplify an appearance.

Carefully selected accessories can make the difference between someone who puts on clothes and a person who gets dressed. For men, a nice watch and a classic pen will add a touch of sophistication to any outfit.

For women, shoes, jewelry and a great handbag can mean the difference between a bland outfit and standing out from the crowd. Invest in the best shoes you can afford. And when choosing jewelry, keep things simple and classic. Remember, a person who is dressed more professionally is treated more professionally.

Related: Professional Dress Doesn't Have to Mean Boring

Jacqueline Whitmore

Author, Business Etiquette Expert and Founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach

Jacqueline Whitmore is an etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Palm Beach in Palm Beach, Fla. She is the author of Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals (St. Martin's Press, 2011) and Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work (St. Martin's Press, 2005).

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