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Cindy's Blog- Living a LIfe of Style and Substance


Women's Guide to Dressing for Business Meetings and Presentations

Posted on July 22, 2012 at 12:14 PM
If you run your small business from home, and do most of your business by phone or online, you can get away with wearing what you like a lot of the time. After all, how would anyone know whether you are wearing your best suit or your favourite pyjamas whilst speaking with them on the phone?
There will probably be times, though, when you’re meeting with clients, potential business partners or sponsors, that you will need to consider your dress as carefully as would if you were attending a job interview.
Does appearance matter?
Several studies have shown that appearance is as important as knowledge or skills when it comes to getting the job,the business or the faith of your client.
Laura Sinberg of says “Although job-related skills and experience rank high in importance in whether or not you land the position, during the initial hiring process they have less power than most of us think. That's because the first thing we notice about someone is their appearance, and more specifically, the way they are dressed.
So if, as the saying goes, first impressions are lasting impressions, let’s get it right first time as there may not be a next time!
Consider your client or company
If you are meeting somebody in one of the more conservative businesses, such as banking or law, then more traditional business wear would be appropriate. This might be a smart fitted black or navy jacket with matching skirt or trousers, a simple blouse, toning shoes and smart bag or briefcase.
In a less formal environment, such as advertising, PR or media, something trendier but still smart, would go down well. Think about the same jacket over a dress with contrasting bag and shoes and perhaps some subtle jewellery.
In some, say, creative environments, even jeans would be considered acceptable but if in doubt, it is always best to err on the side of caution by sticking to smart clothes in subtle colours.
Think about colour psychology
Certain colours have particular effects on the way people perceive you.  Be aware of the messages you are sending out when you wear them!
This is the colour most associated with authority and power and is a safe “corporate” colour that goes down well in most interviews or meetings, particularly in the most formal environments. Black from head to toe can look a little severe so break it up with contrasting or toning accessories.
Again, this is a smart, traditional and safe colour for business meetings, but be careful as it stains easily and obviously.  Imagine trying to concentrate on what someone is trying to say when you can’t help but focus on the black mark on their collar!
Considered an extreme colour, red symbolises confidence, passion, sexiness, assertion and confrontation, so is probably best only worn in small amounts in the form of accessories.
Brown. Although it is seen as a solid, reliable colour, brown commands less authority than black or navy in a business environment.
Blue. Navy is considered as “corporate” as black, whilst surveys show that  lighter shades of blue symbolise loyalty and trustworthiness, making it one of the best colours to wear for an interview or business meeting.
Keep accessories simple and subtle
As with stains on clothing, it is difficult for the people you are talking with to concentrate on what you have to say or offer if they are focusing on your chunky diamante necklace!
You can’t go wrong if you choose subtle, conservative jewellery, classic handbags and shoes with heels you can walk around in all day.  Needless to say, you should avoid “bling” at all times. 
The exception to the above would be if you were promoting your jewellery and accessory business or if you were trying to get work with a rap band, when a bit of bling would be quite appropriate.
Dress modestly
Showing your cleavage, midriff or too much leg will send out the wrong messages in a business environment and may prevent you from being taken seriously.  Save looking sexy for another time and place. You can still look feminine and attractive but you must aim to do this in an elegant and classy way.
Here are some ways you can achieve this:
  • Moderate heels  in fashionable but ladylike styles
  • Fitted jackets that emphasise the waist
  • Stylish blouses, shaped to fit and emphasise your feminine shape without showing your cleavage and preferably, without frills and flounces
  • Figure skimming, rather than skin tight, dresses with no fussy details
  • Black or natural hosiery (no patterns) or if in summer and in one of the less formal businesses, bare legs with a not-too-short dress may be appropriate
  • Classic, feminine watches – and always wear a watch in a business meeting as it conveys punctuality
  • Always be well groomed. Wear some make-up as it looks like you’ve made an effort but keep it subtle and natural.  Save your dark red lips for a night out.
  • Keep nails manicured (no chipped nail polish!) and hair should be neat, not overly styled and not covering too much of the face.
What message do you want to send out?
As the first thing we notice about people is the way they present themselves, you must consider:
  • How you want to be perceived as a person, employee or colleague?
  • What service or product you are selling or promoting?
Use the information you now have to ensure you dress in a way that conveys your personal message in the right way.  
Obviously, you will want to show how your product, service and experience can benefit them as clients or partners and this will be much easier if you have already gained their attention for the right reasons ie because you look the part.
Yes, Looking good is only half the picture but it’s a great place to start!
To get your FREE guide to setting up and running your own small business, fill in the request form on our home page here:
Copyright ©2012 Cindy Forbes

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Categories: Small Business Sucess

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Reply Crystal Gardner
3:08 PM on August 29, 2012 
As an image consultant I have to say this is great advice and on point with what I tell clients. I look forward to sharing the information with my online networks. Great job!
Reply Cindy Forbes
5:12 PM on August 29, 2012 
Crystal Gardner says...
As an image consultant I have to say this is great advice and on point with what I tell clients. I look forward to sharing the information with my online networks. Great job!

Many thanks Crystal- I will check out your website too!
Reply Alfred Norman
8:28 AM on September 6, 2012 
This is complete educative and informative post! It is true that perfect and body fit dresses makes a men or women excellent and beauty. Thanks!
Reply Cindy
9:01 PM on October 8, 2012 
Alfred Norman says...
This is complete educative and informative post! It is true that perfect and body fit dresses makes a men or women excellent and beauty. Thanks!

Thank you Alfred. Glad you found it informative!
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