Power Dressing: The New Rules

As younger generations enter the workforce, the idea of power dressing continues to change.  And we should all know that if we give one sloppy impression, it can cost us one or more clients.  So as an independent professional, it’s important to have a standard to follow.

In a recent CBS Money Watch article entitled “The New Rules on Dressing for Success,” author Tom Searcy shares a professional dress code that will never let you down.

1. Know your prospect’s uniform. This is especially important as an independent contractor.  Take the time to determine how your contact will be dressing and follow suit (pun intended).

2. Dress one step up. Searcy explains, “If your prospect is in denim, you wear khaki.  They wear sport coats without ties; you are in suits without ties.  The point is that you always dress one step further up the clothing ladder than your prospect, but not two.  One step says that you respect and value them.  Two steps can send a loaded message.”

3. It’s not just what you wear—but how you wear it. Details are important, and if you’re shirt isn’t ironed or your pants pressed, it doesn’t really matter if you’re following the dress code.

4. Grooming trumps style. Regardless of the fact that many 20-something professionals sport fauxhawks, if you want to make a good impression, you must ensure that you’re not sacrificing professionalism for adherence to unprofessional fashion trends.

5. Know your company’s uniform. And if you don’t have one, it’s time you did.  Establishing a dress code enables you to establish professional expectations, and not just for employees, but for yourself.

Whether or not you like it, your attire sends a message about your professionalism.  When you become sloppy, your reputation becomes sloppy as well.

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How do you ensure that your first impressions are professional and respectable?  Leave your comments here!


Searcy, Tom.  “The New Rules on Dressing for Success.” 8 November 2011 CBS Money Watch