DRESS FOR THE OCCASION
Looking good wherever you may be can really make a difference in your business relationships. ‘Business smart’ and ‘smart casual’ as dress codes are always open to interpretation and can be quite subjective. If in doubt, you should consider who is hosting the event, respect who they are and speak their language in your dress choice.
‘Business smart’ means there’s a professional code your hosts want recognised or respected, so go for a smart, professional look. Men should wear a jacket, with a tie if you usually wear one. Women should avoid showing too much flesh, but it’s also important for you to bring a touch of femininity to the way you dress – you are at a business party, so it almost honours the occasion.
‘Smart casual’ is even more confusing – whenever I see ‘smart casual’ I have to ask myself what my hosts want of me and I’m still not sure I’ve got it accurate!
Once again, I think your type of host will give you a lead as to their expectations, and it’s respectful to always dress for your host – if someone’s bothered to host you at a party then you shouldn’t turn up in your cargo pants and track shoes, however casual the firm. Go for a more relaxed business feel. A man could wear jeans and a really nice shirt, but no tie, or jeans, a T-shirt and a really good jacket or blazer.
A woman could wear good shoes and an interesting top with jeans or trousers – the interpretation depends what suits you. No one should wear jandals to a business event! Colour careful Black and charcoal suits are a great foil for colour. You have to be really careful when you introduce colour into a suit.
As a man you have to be really flamboyant to carry it off, or you’ll look like you’re pimping – it’s a fine line! For a woman, a colourful corporate suit is a careful choice as it can look a little naïve. It needs to have an element of sophistication about its cut to carry the colour. I think it is a safer choice to go for beautiful colours and prints in dresses, blouses or shirts, using a well cut corporate suit as the canvas.
When you wear a colour as a woman, it does make you stand out and you are more memorable. This goes for men as well, and you can also bring your personality out in your shirt. New Zealand men are breaking out more than they ever have before, and there are fabulous shirts around now to team with a well cut suit. I always admire the men who have the courage to wear an interesting shirt and show a bit of their personality.
Of course, working in the world of IT, you’ll know that IT gadgets are the new status symbol – the new diamond ring, the new top-range car. IT accessory producers are more and more aware that it’s all about the ‘cool factor’ and personal choice, status and self-expression.
The gadgets that do particularly well are the ones that offer some kind of customisation, or a wide range of colour or style choices. The screen-age consumer is all about personal expression, identifying with a ‘tribe’ or particular brand, and women who are happy to be outwardly feminine want to carry bright colours.
Fashion faux pas
When it comes down to it, you will always be dressed appropriately for the business situation if you dress respectfully. Whether it be a jacket-and-tie affair, or a less formal event, make the effort for your host, remember it is a business event, and you’ll project the right image.