Poll: How do you "Dress for Success" as an offline consultant?

by Vrs
28 replies
I've gone back and forth in my mind on this but is there a good "rule of thumb" for the best way to dress for an offline consultant appointment?

If you listen to Brian Tracy he says to dress like a business owners advisors would, e.g., their accountant, banker, estate planner, etc. A "consultant" is an advisor, which kind of implies that you should wear a tie if you're a guy or a suit of some sort if you're a gal. However -

My guess is most will say they dress "business casual".

So which is better?

One reason I think you can get away with business casual is because of our field. Marketing. It seems creative types can even get away with being a little eccentric if they want to.

Also, is the type of client a factor? For example a "mom and pop" store vs. an upscale client? Or say a Doctor, Attorney, etc., etc., ...

Or does it even make a difference?

Rural community vs metro could also be a factor. Hard to imagine wearing a suit in a rural area but maybe I'm wrong.

Any definite research data anyone knows about on this? ("this" being all of the above)
#consultant #dress for success #offline #poll
  • Profile picture of the author MatthewBass
    I always dress according to who I'm going to see.

    For example, if it's a meeting with an attorney I'll wear a suit with a tie, or a suit with out a tie. Never too casual.

    If I have a meeting with a plumber, I just wear what I call my uniform. Dress pants and my business polo style shirts. (polo shirt with my business logo and name on them).
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    • Profile picture of the author Vrs
      Makes sense. I especially like the polo shirt w/business logo and name - nice touch. Do you get them local or online?
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      • Profile picture of the author MatthewBass
        Originally Posted by Vrs View Post

        Makes sense. I especially like the polo shirt w/business logo and name - nice touch. Do you get them local or online?
        I get them from Thread-Logic online. (thread-logic dot com)
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        • Profile picture of the author sometimes
          +1 for the crocs
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        • Profile picture of the author Vrs
          Originally Posted by powermediaone View Post

          I had an appointment last Friday with an account manager for a group of family practices in my local area. I wore a plain blue t-shirt, a pair of grey shorts and some sonuk sidewalk surfers (sandals). Seriously, I looked like I just came from the beach. Plus, I have a full sleeve of tattoos


          If you can go in there with confidence and enthusiasm and show them that you mean business regardless of how you are dressed, you will leave with cash in your hand!

          This was the first time I ever wore shorts to a meeting (I usually wear jeans with a rolled up flannel shirt) but I'm going to do it again for sure. Especially when the temp is over 90 degrees.

          Now, if you are in a desperate situation and need cash today, I'm not so sure I would dress so casually.
          And you're not in Hawaii?

          Originally Posted by WhosChrisHughes View Post

          I was always told to dress for success. Selling to suits? Wear a suit. Selling to a mom & pop shop? Wear jeans and a polo shirt.

          We've gotta remember that we want these people to know, like and trust us. Developing trust starts with getting the business owner comfortable with us and our first impression is usually important. This leads me to wearing dress shirt/dress pants for the first meeting in order to show that I am a professional. After that I find it's okay to slip into jeans and a polo after they see you are a professional and take your business seriously.
          Chris that's probably what I'm most comfortable with. Sounds pretty well balanced to me.

          Originally Posted by Dexx View Post

          Like this:



          ~Dexx
          Dexx - you've changed!

          Originally Posted by MatthewBass View Post

          I get them from Thread-Logic online. (thread-logic dot com)
          Thanks Matthew, I'll check them out!
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          • Profile picture of the author siwell16
            A lot of people say you should dress to impress. Yes this can make you look more professional but will it make your client feel comfortable and relaxed?

            I wear a tshirt with my logo on it and jeans. I noticed this makes the client feel more relaxed and the conversation flows more smoothly.

            In some cases this can hurt you especially if you don't have proof of past work. They may think your just trying to scam them but having your logo on your shirt helps ease that thought.

            I guess it really boils down to what kind of consultant you are or you want to be.

            What's your personality?

            Are you a people person?

            Can you make anyone feel comfortable?

            Do you like telling jokes and having fun while still being professional?

            If you do then you should wear something that matches your personality like jeans and tshirt with your logo like i do.

            If your more professional and like to get right to business then you should dress the part may slakes and a nice polo.

            Nothing is worse than someone who is fake and not being themselves.

            Although dressing to impress is a good thing to do...Your clothes are not what will not get you a sale.....Clothes are just clothes its the person wearing the clothes that the client must trust and want to do business with.

            Hope this was helpful!

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    • Profile picture of the author bradstern
      Originally Posted by MatthewBass View Post

      I always dress according to who I'm going to see.

      For example, if it's a meeting with an attorney I'll wear a suit with a tie, or a suit with out a tie. Never too casual.

      If I have a meeting with a plumber, I just wear what I call my uniform. Dress pants and my business polo style shirts. (polo shirt with my business logo and name on them).
      I love this suggestion. It's pretty much what I would do too.

      Anyway, personally though, I don't really like wearing formal attire unless they are needed. I mostly go semi-formal most of the time.
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      • Profile picture of the author Vrs
        It's looking like the polo shirts are a popular choice. I'm going to try that. Most offline (non-internet) selling I've done on the past required I wear pretty much business dress - you know, dress pants, starched shirt, tie. But if everyone's having success being a little more casual, why not? I'm definitely going to have to check out getting my logo on them too - like Matthew.
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        • Profile picture of the author David Stewart
          I had an appointment last Friday with an account manager for a group of family practices in my local area. I wore a plain blue t-shirt, a pair of grey shorts and some sonuk sidewalk surfers (sandals). Seriously, I looked like I just came from the beach. Plus, I have a full sleeve of tattoos

          If you can go in there with confidence and enthusiasm and show them that you mean business regardless of how you are dressed, you will leave with cash in your hand!

          This was the first time I ever wore shorts to a meeting (I usually wear jeans with a rolled up flannel shirt) but I'm going to do it again for sure. Especially when the temp is over 90 degrees.

          Now, if you are in a desperate situation and need cash today, I'm not so sure I would dress so casually.
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          powermediaone AT yahoo.com
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  • Profile picture of the author redlegrich
    I live in Seattle. I haven't worn anything but jeans for years. If the clients are better dressed than me they are jealous ;-) I wear a polo shirt or long sleeve button down shirt.
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    • Profile picture of the author Vrs
      Love it -that's funny. I'm not brave enough to try wearing jeans yet. Anyone else do that?

      BTW - I guess you'd be overdressed in Portland. They recently had a bike ride with over 1,000 people riding their bicycles nude. Doesn't that seem like it'd be a little uncomfortable? Riding nude? On a bicycle? Maybe I'd feel comfortable wearing jeans on a sales call in Portland.
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    • Profile picture of the author robd1302
      Originally Posted by redlegrich View Post

      I live in Seattle. I haven't worn anything but jeans for years. If the clients are better dressed than me they are jealous ;-) I wear a polo shirt or long sleeve button down shirt.
      It's a struggle for me just to "dress up" enough to wear jeans, in the summer.

      As someone mentioned, people expect creative types to dress down, and they're probably even jealous

      If I knew I would be meeting in a board room with a bunch of suits, I may put on a tie, but usually I'll buy someone lunch, or meet someone in their office, so it's a more relaxed environment.

      If I'm meeting with a client I know, and I'm sure they won't care (like tomorrow, I'm meeting with a client who owns a hair salon, at her salon), I'll just wear what I would wear at home, which in the summer, includes shorts.

      I've thought about buying a few polos with my logo on it, but haven't bothered yet.
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  • Profile picture of the author redlegrich
    In the Fremont area of Seattle they have the summer solstice parade and festival. Yes, they ride nude. Very scary! As Seinfeld says it's bad naked.
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  • Profile picture of the author techlover
    I currently wear a solid color polo with khakis and nice dress shoes, but that custom logo polo sounds really nice. Anyone have a link to a high quality online place that can make those?
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  • Profile picture of the author WhosChrisHughes
    I was always told to dress for success. Selling to suits? Wear a suit. Selling to a mom & pop shop? Wear jeans and a polo shirt.

    We've gotta remember that we want these people to know, like and trust us. Developing trust starts with getting the business owner comfortable with us and our first impression is usually important. This leads me to wearing dress shirt/dress pants for the first meeting in order to show that I am a professional. After that I find it's okay to slip into jeans and a polo after they see you are a professional and take your business seriously.
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  • Profile picture of the author Dexx
    Like this:



    ~Dexx
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    • Profile picture of the author JHolness
      Originally Posted by Dexx View Post

      Like this:



      ~Dexx
      Oh that is HYSTERICAL!

      I have gone in both a full suit and tie, a sports coat, or just casual jeans and sneakers. What I have found is it depends on the venue or place of business your going to.

      Some people judge you on what your wearing. In otherwords, if you dont have on $500 shoes, no matter WHAT you say to them, they dont take you seriously.

      Other's it doesnt matter. What matters to them is you, and the service your pitching or selling.

      Here is what works for me. I dress 'Semi" professional. I will wear comfortable dress pants with a collared shirt and no tie, and maybe a sports coat. I want to be comfortable. If I'm not comfortable in my own skin, it shows when I am trying to talk to the prospect about anything.

      And the other thing is exactly that. Confidence! have confidence in yourself, and what your pitching, because more than anything else, that shines through like a light tower in a storm! Hope that helps some of you!
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  • Profile picture of the author WhosChrisHughes
    haha Crocs ftw
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  • Profile picture of the author blillard
    I feel you should dress fpr the occasion. I wouldnt dress to casual or fancy, you might come off as a sales man from a car lot. Canvas your client and get a feel for them.
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  • Profile picture of the author ZachWaldman
    I believe selling has more to do with persistence and personality than just about anything else.

    As a result, I think your manner of dress should reflect who you are.

    However, this needs to be a choice, not an accident.

    For example, there's a big difference between being the surfer dude and dressing like one vs. just being a clueless slob.

    As a comedian, most of my fellow performers seem to be in a contest to dress as poorly as possible. I think somewhere along the line they started to believe it makes them funnier.

    On the other hand, I'm almost always in a suit and tie. I got into show business to be a star, not homeless. I've never had an audience not laugh because I looked better than them.

    I should mention that here in L.A., most people are super casual. I stick out being dressed up most of the time, and I think that helps when selling too.
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  • Profile picture of the author artista
    For me one should always be dressed in a proper way, and would depend on whom you are going to meet, places you are going and the occasion.
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    • Profile picture of the author QuickSurf
      Nice jeans, shirt, and shoes. Majority of clients I've met over the years through my consulting biz including commercial finance, would rather deal with someone that doesn't look like a used car salesman coming in (i.e. nice suit or not). I've met with countless CEO's of firms whom they themselves were in nice jeans a shirt. IMO it's all how you carry yourself and your personality, I can pull off that laid back look successfully while others I've seen can't. It's hot and humid in South FL... who the heck wants to run around in a suit

      I've literally had clients tell me that they've turned people down whom came in dressed too nice in their opinion as it made it seem like their trying to hard. But that's FL for you, I've also seen states up north that are way to conservative and you'd would never think to meet with anyone even for the simplest thing w/o being in a suit. Like in my commercial finance biz, i secured funding for large and complex projects, met with many big developers and investors... not one time was I ever in a suit.

      I hate that "stuffy" feeling of being in a suit, much more comfortable wearing nice jeans etc.
      Originally Posted by ZachWaldman View Post

      I believe selling has more to do with persistence and personality than just about anything else.

      As a result, I think your manner of dress should reflect who you are.

      However, this needs to be a choice, not an accident.

      For example, there's a big difference between being the surfer dude and dressing like one vs. just being a clueless slob.

      As a comedian, most of my fellow performers seem to be in a contest to dress as poorly as possible. I think somewhere along the line they started to believe it makes them funnier.

      On the other hand, I'm almost always in a suit and tie. I got into show business to be a star, not homeless. I've never had an audience not laugh because I looked better than them.

      I should mention that here in L.A., most people are super casual. I stick out being dressed up most of the time, and I think that helps when selling too.
      Bingo! I surf for example, and even on occasion have met with big clients in jeans and flip flops (though not looking like a slob, I usually have on some expensive jeans lol). B/c that's me and my personality, I can pull it off.
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    • Profile picture of the author midasman09
      Banned
      When I began my Sales Career in Chgo and had a meeting with executives of the Walgreen Co (or other Corps)....I wore a dark suit, white shirt and tie.

      When I was selling in Aspen, CO....I wore a sportscoat, colored shirt and slacks.

      When selling in small towns in OreGUN....I wear T-Shirts and Levis or Shorts.

      Gotta go with the Flow!

      Don Alm....STILL "Flowing Along" and picking up checks
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      • Profile picture of the author Vrs
        Interesting - it's all across the board! Lots of sound tips and great advice. I think I lean towards a more conservative look but obviously it's not a requirement. While blue jeans could possibly fit the occasion I'd tend to err more on the side of caution.

        Several of you have made the point about your style of dress fitting your personality. I guess that's the bottom line, isn't it?

        But I'd still err on the side of caution and dress conservatively first, and more relaxed on subsequent visits - probably not until after they were a client though and I knew it'd work with them. I guess that's what I get for listening to Brian Tracy!

        I really appreciate all the input from everyone (and the humor). Thanks!
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  • Profile picture of the author enterpryzman
    I am pretty strict with this as I have worn a suit every day of my life for more than 20 years. I feel perfectly fine with a tie on for 14 hours straight, does not bother me in any way.

    When you are the professional, you need to dress as such and that means down to your shoes that should be clean and shined. Even when I am dealing with clients that are jeans and tee shirt looking folks, I still will dress up in less fancy suits or just a nice sport coat.

    I have given talks to rural groups that have been bikers or farmers or factory workers and on a very few of these times gone with no tie and a button down oxford. One time as I began to build a relationship with the group of about 60 or so bikers while giving a presentation, I started to let my tie out and asked if they minded as a joke, it was great to hear them cheer me on and I said my boss always made me wear a tie, I asked them not to tell on me......we all laughed and they never knoew I was the boss and it was just to make them feel better with a stranger.

    If I meet with somebody who is trying to sell me anything and they are not dressed for the part, I do not listen too closely. If their shoes are dirty and dull or even worn out, they get about 3 min's of my time and I would never do business with them.

    Enterpryzman
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  • Profile picture of the author mrmatt
    People respect the suit.

    Now having said that. I hate wearing suits, especially ties, and refuse to wear them unless it is required for some kind of event.

    Personally I wear khakis and a button up shirt. Long sleeve in fall and winter short sleeve in the spring and summer.

    Thinking about getting some custom embroidered shirts done as well as some tshirts. Might as well be a walking bill board. You never know who will see it.

    Once they are a client I have no problem wearing jeans and a polo or button up shirt.
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  • Profile picture of the author IdeaFool
    I think geography has a LOT to do with what you wear. I often wear a suit because A) I like them, and B) People seem to give more deference to a person in a suit. This of course works best in urban areas. When I have done one-on-one sales in deep rural communities, I'll wear casual boots, jeans and a decent polo shirt. If you wear a suit in some parts of the Great State of Oklahoma where I am, you might get shot. Folks in rural areas think you're a "Revenuer" or other Gubmint person there to shark them out of something. I will also use this same outfit when meeting with some blue collar workers such as roughnecks or construction folks. I have been known to wear my "good" boots with jeans and a light tweed sport coat over a button down shirt and no tie. It all just depends.

    Frankly, I prefer my suits. I am often confused for a lawyer because I wear conservative suits with "power" ties. When I was a lobbyist this was the preferred uniform, and it's one I still love. Gordon Gekko had the best wardrobe! Next to Bogie, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Tom Wolfe and Edward, Duke of Windsor. (In case you haven't guessed, I love clothes!)
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  • Profile picture of the author kmalikis
    Business casual is preferred but i do like the rule of dress at the level of who are going to meet.
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