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How to Dress for a Business Meeting

Estimated reading time: 7 mins

What you wear to a business meeting can be all the difference for you. It will be crazy if you do not put any thought behind it and simply put on a pair of your favourite ripped jeans and be overconfident on making an impression by using your brainpower. In this current competitive work environment, it is essential for you to keep a great appearance by dressing appropriately. How you dress up will show how serious you are about the meeting.

You also need to understand that what might seem perfectly normal for a casual working environment might be very inappropriate for a corporate one. You might start fretting over what to wear as just planning for the meeting is not enough. This should not worry you too much as we will be discussing in this blog post all the ways in which you can dress up to impress prospective employer, client or connection. This guide will be addressing the apparel choices for both, men and women to ensure you look the part at the next business meeting.

Business Casual Meetings

Business casual meetings are often the most confusing and they can throw people off. It can be confusing to decide if you can wear jeans with trainers or stick to a rather more conservative suit. Some people might remain more cautious and dress formally, while others opt for going more casual. To set this confusion aside, following the tips below will help you stay dressed for success.

Females

It will be a good idea to leave a more conservative two-piece aside and opt for something that is more fashion-friendly.

  • Top: It will be good to keep it simple by going for a chiffon shirt, patterned blouse, turtleneck or a plain jersey top. You could add a blazer for a smarter look.
  • Bottoms: Anything like structured wool trousers, chinos or suit trousers will be acceptable for a business casual meeting.
  • Dress/Skirt: A midi skirt, dark coloured bold print bodycon dress or pleated A-line skirt should be the thing to wear for working women. These are good feminine options suitable for workplace.
  • Shoes: Brogues, loafers and pumps are all good. Moreover, if you want to wear heels, make sure they are not over four inch high.
  • Accessories: Your best bet would be to wear light jewellery. Avoid any bold statement options at all costs and stay away from big earrings. These will all be distractions for others at the meeting.
  • Outerwear: For colder days, you could opt for something like a smart jacket, pea coat or trench coat to accompany your look.

Males

For the right business casual look, ditch the formal suit and opt for something that is smart and comfortable.

  • Jacket/Blazer: While a jacket is not a compulsory requirement, it can definitely smarten up your look, adding to your confidence during the meeting. You could go for a dark block coloured blazer with maybe a chequered pattern if you like.
  • Bottoms: Chinos or smart trousers are always a safe option (preferably in beige or dark colour). In case you work in a creative agency or a startup, you could opt for jeans, provided they are dark coloured and have a straight cut (no ripped jeans!).
  • Shoes: Brogues, formal shoes or Chelsea boots are all great options. Opt for colour like black and brown and materials like leather or suede.
  • Accessories: A belt is necessary have and should be worn with every outfit at all costs. A watch can also be a nice touch but make sure it does not look too flashy – it will just end up distracting your audience too much.
  • Outerwear: If the meeting is in a colder weather you could use a formal wool jacket, pea coat or trench coat.

Formal Meetings

Online conferences and boardroom meetings require a formal attire to help you exhibit a professional image that will convey an executive presence. There needs to be a visible difference between what you wear on a daily basis and what you should be wearing when you enter that all-important boardroom.

Females

When going for a formal meeting, you should aim to make have more than just a tailored suit to make a strong statement.

  • Top: Going for a chiffon or cotton buttoned-up shirt will always be a safe option.
  • Bottoms: Wide-legged trousers or tailored suit trousers in beige or dark colour will guarantee you the professional look.
  • Dress/Skirt: Tweed or black pencil skirts that sits not more than four fingers above the knee will be fine. If you like dresses, you could opt for a high-neck A-Line dress that is not too long or short, again following the four fingers rule.
  • Shoes: Brogues, pumps, loafers or court shoes are all good for a formal meeting.
  • Accessories: In case you are wearing a skirt or dress, you should wear black or skin-coloured tights to finish off the look nicely. Only wear jewellery that are non-distracting and simple, paired with a structured bag.

Men

For those formal meetings, it is best to play it safe with the help of a matched suit.

  • Shirt: A crisp, white, buttoned up cotton shirt should be your main option. However, if you have done it too many times, you could opt for a minimal pattern or slight shade.
  • Suit: The ideal choice would be a two-piece or three-piece navy or ark charcoal suit. Make sure it is of good quality and has a perfect tailored fit.
  • Accessories: Having a silk tie is a must, as well as a leather belt, subtle cufflinks and a watch.
  • Shoes: For formal meetings, you should opt for brown or black brogues or oxfords, coupled with nice matching socks.

Other Tips

Paying attention to the way you look will convey preparation, planning as well as respect for those whom you are meeting. The effort you put in respecting yourself will also set the standard on how others will respect you. If you want to knock your client or manager’s socks off, you should follow the following tips:

  • Avoid showing too much skin:Keep things classy by covering up. Any business meeting is not a catwalk you should not distract your attendees by your bare arms or legs.
  • Choose the perfect fit:Your clothes need to be well fitted. Make sure the trousers are not mopping the floor or your belly is not popping out of your shirt. All women should make sure their skirt is not too short and the blouse is not revealing too much.
  • Complement your look with the right hairdo:What hairstyle you choose for yourself is as important as your outfit. Men should keep their hair well-trimmed and tidy while women should have a hairstyle that is neat and kept out of the face.
  • Use subtle fragrances:You should avoid turning your business meeting into a gas chamber or overpowering scents. Refrain from making your business partners suffer from strong scents. Opt for a light, fresh and floral scent that is pleasant but not distracting.
  • Your makeup needs to be neutral:Opt for a natural base and go for a more natural glow with a bronzer and maybe just a hint of highlighter. Avoid anything that is too cakey. Put on a layer of natural lip colour and a mascara – you need to stay away from looking like you have tried too hard.
  • Keep your accessories to a minimum:The best way is to keep simple jewellery, as you need to stay away from any distractions. Opt for classics like pendant necklaces and stud earrings.
  • Be confident and comfortable:The bottom line of this all is that you need to be very comfortable in what you are wearing. If you are a more casual person, you will need to find ways to trim up the business attire of yours without missing any opportunities. When you will be content, you will ooze confidence naturally and you will feel power in whatever you will be wearing. Want to know other ways to boost your confidence? Here is our blog post on how public speaking can help you!

Conclusion

The tips shared here will get you prepared for every type of business encounters, making sure you look professional and well prepared. At the end, you should select your business type, your company’s culture and personality as well as your own personal style carefully to ensure you exhibit the right fashion outlook.

You will need to select the right style that will best work for you and that will help you shine in the next meeting of yours. You will be able to leave an impression of credibility, trustworthiness and success.

Do you have any other fashion tips to help fellow readers with their business meeting choices? How do you dress up for your business meetings? Join the conversation in the comments section below and let us know your thoughts. Moreover, we encourage you all to read our disaster management blog post on what to do if your business meeting has gone wrong.

 
This post is part of 7 in the series Style

About the author /


Simon is a creative and passionate business leader dedicated to having fun in the pursuit of high performance and personal development. He is co-founder of Applied Change, a Business Change consultancy based in the UK. Simon is also an Ambassador for Gloucestershire business. Simon is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Professional Development.

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