Dressing professionally does not necessarily mean wearing a suit anymore. That might be good news to most business people, but it also complicates matters. The brand perception of your company, as well as the expectations created by the position you hold in your company, now determine the appropriate dress code for a lasting first impression.
For companies in informal industries, e.g. family restaurants, manufacturing and retail, professional wear means practical, casual outfits. An example of such an outfit for men is chino trousers and check shirt/golf shirt, or an overall if in manufacturing.
In formal industries, however, e.g. law and finance, professional wear entails conservative, formal outfits. For men, this means classic trousers and a lounge shirt with or without a tie.
Some companies have different business divisions and each division may require a different professional dress code. Let’s take a company brewing and distributing beer as an example: there’s a brewery where staff wear overalls; a laboratory to test the quality of beer where staff wear lab coats; a tasting venue where staff wear informal trousers and shirts, and perhaps aprons; a distribution warehouse where most staff wear overalls and a head office where business decisions are made where staff wear business wear (but not necessarily suits).
Inevitably various business situations may require different image messages. This is where knowledge of the image game is helpful: different combinations of clothing can project a more serious(authoritative) or less serious (approachable) appearance. One can choose the image depending on the situation and what message you want to project.
In preparation for practical clothing examples in our next article, familiarise yourself with your company’s brand perception and the expectations it create with your clients …and next we will start playing the image game!