Ending Soon! Save 33% on All Access

How to Dress for Success in a Remote-Centric World After years of work-from-home uniforms that consisted of the most casual of clothes, it's hard to know what dress code professionalism entails anymore.

By Kelly Hyman Edited by Micah Zimmerman

Key Takeaways

  • It's always best to err on the side of formality when meeting with new prospects and clients.
  • Dressing for success may feel like it's solely for your audience, but it's also for you.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The workforce has evolved from a strictly in-office, 9-5 environment into more of what entrepreneurs are used to, with plenty of Zoom meetings and at-home office backgrounds. However, as in-person meetings and networking events have largely resumed to normal, the shift from the comfortable clothes of home to finding reasons to dress up a little now and then can be a challenge.

Whether you're a corporate consultant or creative solopreneur, dressing for success is a confidence boost and should be approached strategically as you build your business.

Related: These 5 Fashionable Must-Haves Will Help You Dress for Success

Make it part of your routine

While working from home may have drastically cut a typical commute time on the road, use those extra moments to set the tone for your day. And that includes getting dressed. It's all too easy to want to say in pajama mode, but something switches in the brain when you transition from being relaxed and asleep to being active and awake.

Plus, you'll be prepared for any unplanned Zoom calls or in-person opportunities. Sure, you may get away with wearing slippers during all of your virtual meetings, but all people will see is how put together you are on screen. Think about how you want to show up for yourself and others, and let that be reflected in what you wear.

Related: Is the 'Return to Office' Debate Over? Most Employees Want Flexibility, According to a New Survey.

Out with the old, in with the new

Before you update your wardrobe, it's best to look at what you already have to work with. Pull everything from your closet and create two piles, one for work at home and the other for in-person meetings and presentations. Just because you primarily work in a casual setting doesn't mean you need to get rid of more formal wear and vice-versa.

Be honest with your choices regarding how much you wear your favorite pieces, and donate those that don't fit anymore. Organizing your closet gives you a clear idea of pieces you already have so you can incorporate a few items to make your wardrobe feel complete. This helps to save money for a complete overhaul, which may not be necessary once you revisit some clothing staples that may have been hiding in the back.

Related: Why You Still Have to Dress for Success

Alterations may be all that's needed

Finding a reliable tailor is one of the best things you can do to look more polished. Check with your local dry cleaners, as they typically have tailoring services or at least know someone to recommend. Often, a great outfit can look too casual simply due to a poor fit. This is especially true with pants and jackets, which need to be tailored to avoid looking sloppy. Adjusting a hemline an inch or two can instantly create a more streamlined look.

When it comes to pants, in particular, try them on with the shoes you wear them with most. Sure, they may look nice as you sit at your computer sans shoes, but confirm if they need to be altered to wear with flats, heels, or both. Also, as your weight fluctuates throughout the years, allow your clothes to be taken out or in accordingly. Ensuring a good fit is important, particularly as business suits and dressier clothes may have gone unused for several years.

Background matters

With many interactions happening via a computer screen, there are other factors to consider as part of your wardrobe. Low-cut necklines, excessive jewelry or accessories, or clothing with words may not translate as well virtually as they do in person. When in doubt, do a practice run in front of the camera to see if it's a distraction.

Additionally, check if you need additional lighting to prevent awkward angles or shiny skin once the camera is on. The importance is that your style shines through but doesn't overshadow your professionalism and what you have to present. Clothing becomes part of your personality and in part, your communication when you're online. Make sure it's saying what you want it to.

Consider your personal brand

Dressing for success also involves wearing something representative of you, which means incorporating colors and fabrics you're comfortable with. Jewel tones like navy, jade and crimson are classic ones and can work as staple alternatives to the traditional black. But don't be afraid to experiment with different patterns and accessories to match your style.

It's always best to err on the side of formality when meeting with new prospects and clients. Although, if you're uncomfortable with what you're wearing, it'll show in your body language, even when you're dressed the part. As entrepreneurs, how we present ourselves is part of our brand. It's important that we put thought into how we show up. Being authentic is key, so consider what you want your clothes to say about you.

Dressing for success may feel like it's solely for your audience, but it's also for you. Entrepreneurialism is all about effort, regardless of the environment or situation you're in. The more you put in, the more you'll receive. Even when it feels like you can't give anymore, dressing the part means you decided to give your best still.

Kelly Hyman

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

TV legal analyst and Attorney

Kelly Hyman has been called "a modern day Erin Brockovich" by Forbes. Hyman has appeared numerous times on Law & Crime, Court TV and Fox@night. She is a TV legal analyst and democratic political commentator, and as an attorney, Hyman focuses on class actions and mass tort litigation.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Business News

TikTok Reportedly Laid Off a 'Large Percentage' of Employees as the App's Fate in the U.S. Remains Unclear

Laid-off TikTok employees were notified Wednesday night through Thursday morning.

Personal Finance

This Investment Bundle Includes a Trading Course and Stock Screener Tool for $150

Approach the stock market with an increased understanding.

Business News

Four Seasons Orlando Responds to Viral TikTok: 'There's Something Here For All Ages'

The video has amassed over 45.4 million views on TikTok.

Growing a Business

5 Strategies to Know As You Scale Your Business

Scaling a service-based company requires a comprehensive approach that goes beyond simply increasing revenue. It requires careful planning, strategic decision-making and a deep understanding of market dynamics.

Growing a Business

The Right Way to Ask Someone for a Million Dollars, According to a Fundraiser Who Does It For a Living

No matter what you're raising money for, Wanda Urbanskia says, the same basic rules apply.