stay different. stay real.

Dressing so you mean business

business-suitsWhen I started my first job as a trainee sales representative for a publishing firm a hundred years ago in England, the dress code was a suit with a vest, dress shirt and tie, and shiny shoes (black or brown). These days in white collar jobs almost anything goes from smart casual, business casual, to casual.

Don’t know the difference? Nor did I but if you click the following link you will see a great infographic titled, Dress Codes 101 that spells it out for you – I discovered it in an Entrepreneur Magazine article  – – it also tells you what business-informal, semi-formal, and formal dress is too. Who knew there was so much to it?

In general terms as I travel across BC I find that in a business environment, men’s ties are going out of fashion during day-to-day business activities, except for perhaps in Vancouver, and to a lesser womens-suitextent Victoria. In most cases Victoria business people seem to wear a suit, but often an open neck dress shirt. In Vancouver the suit and tie is still de rigueur in many business situations. It’s a similar case for women, in that in Vancouver and Victoria you are more likely to see businesswomen in suits and high heels than across the rest of the province.

The further one goes into the interior the more casual business attire becomes and many business people will be casually dressed in khakis, shirts or blouses and jeans.

How you decide to dress very much depends on who you work for, where you work, and in what industry. If confused, look around and see what others are wearing and follow suit (pun intended). It’s always good to dress a little better than others, but not better than your boss, or client.

mens-business-suitIn more down-to-earth work environments, you may be wearing anything from a uniform to safety equipment. In recent years there have been huge advances in work-wear, with lighter, tougher fabrics that breathe better than those of yesteryear.

Whatever you wear there are a few golden rules; everything should fit well, be clean, and ironed and pressed, unless it’s meant to be otherwise!

Even with the most unstylish work clothing you can still look good. The other day I drove past a landscaping crew weed-whacking a median; one was in the dirtiest, scruffiest, fluorescent jacket I’ve ever seen and the other guy had a modern, well fitting and clean jacket that drivers could see a mile off!

I suppose at the end of the day, how you dress very much depends on how you want to be perceived. How you dress can also alter how confident, authoritative, and powerful you feel.

A little time spent on thinking about what you wear to the office, the store, the warehouse, or the job site can make a huge difference in how the public, your colleagues, your bosses, your clients, all see you. Polonius in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet said, “Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy, but not expressed in fancy—rich, not gaudy, for the apparel oft proclaims the man, …” Put into modern language, “Spend all you can afford on clothes, but make sure they’re quality, not flashy, since clothes make the man …” And, of course, the woman.

Mike Wicks