What Message Is Your Attire Sending to Your Customers?


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Your spouse may have told you to change your shirt before work, but does that kind of thing really matter in a business setting? Isn’t your knowledge more influential than your appearance? In fact, your appearance has a much greater influence on your customers than you might realize. The first impression is everything, particularly where customers are concerned. Your appearance has a strong effect on your their subconscious, and the wrong appearance can easily make them feel a little uneasy, hurting your business in the long run.

Studies Show That Professional Dress Matters

If you don’t believe it, consider a study featured on Psychology today that analyzed the snap judgments of 300 men and women who were exposed to different images of the same man and woman for three seconds at a time. In one photo the man wore a tailor-made suit and in the others he wore a similar suit with no tailoring. The woman appeared in one photo in a fitted skirt suit, and in the others, she appeared in various forms of less-fitting skirt and pants suits.

The results of the study showed that irrevocably, the man and woman wearing well-fitted clothing appeared better to the participants. More than that, the participants described those in tailored clothing as more confident, trustworthy, responsible, authoritative, and organized.

On the flip side, the images of the man and woman in less clean-cut clothing rated very low in the confident, trustworthy, responsible, authority, and organized categories.

The Message Your Clothing Is Sending to Customers

The results of the data are clear in this study: Your clothing is always sending a message to your clients, but how positive or negative that message is depends largely on the ensemble. If you want to appear more confident and prepared, don clothing made specifically for your body.

If you want your customers to feel a little uneasy about the way you do business, no matter how competent you are, ignore the rules for appropriate dress and wear frumpy, unkempt clothing.

Dress for a Better Customer Reaction

Considering the way you dress is perhaps most important when it comes to dressing for your customers. Anytime you have a client meeting or are presenting yourself in front of customers, your attire should be professional.

However, choosing a tailored suit isn’t the only thing to consider when purchasing new clothing for the office. There are several things that go into dressing for success in front of your customers and clients.

Think about the environment. Temperatures have a direct effect on productivity and confidence. According to an infographic from Kuul Thread, productivity drops by 85 percent when working in a hot atmosphere. For that reason, it’s always a good idea to look for clothing that helps to control your temperature, even if that means occasionally forgoing the suit jacket.

Integrate your personal style. Just because customers are interested in seeing a clean-cut individual doesn’t mean that you have to wear dull colors and check your personality at the door. There are plenty of ways to add personal accents to your clothing without sacrificing the integrity of the ensemble. Women might spice things up with their favorite jewelry, scarf, and shoes, and men might rotate between a selection of colored shirts and ties, or wear a unique, but classy pair of shoes.

Stay consistent with your style. Don’t confuse clients by showing up in a different style of outfit every day. If you’re known for wearing a fitted colored shirt and tie, don’t break the pattern by showing up in white shirt and suit the next day. Staying consistent with your clothing helps you to remain consistent with the message you’re sending clients.

Dress for where you want to be, not where you are. Everyone has a vision of how they want to be, and clothing can help you get there. Even if you don’t feel like the confident, inspiring leader you hope to be, dressing like you are will help your customers to perceive you as that person.

Communicate to your clients that you’re a confident, trustworthy, authoritative figure through the clothing you choose. With a stylish and consistent wardrobe, you can help to boost both the confidence your clients have in you as well as the confidence you have in yourself.

Larry Alton
Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.


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