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Thursday, July 09, 2020

Corporate Casual vs Corporate Chic

I’m loving the change of season and being able to dress up in a few winter woollies. Might even shop the sales. There’s no need for me to go overboard though as I probably only need one or two things to update my current wardrobe – particularly when it comes to work wear. As of course like you I am working quite a lot remotely.

The key for me is to plan it out – look at what basics I already have and what I can add to update and refresh my look.

What to wear to work is worthy of consideration for most people who go out to work in a business environment.

There are many organisations where a uniform is required and generally that makes the decision of what to put on that day a lot easier. A uniform reflects that company brand usually through colours and other brand identifiers such as logos. A uniform also keeps it simple, with everyone in the organisation reflecting an appropriate visual look. 

Not everywhere has a uniform. However, there is an underlying code of dress in a business environment which is smart, polished and professional.

My area of specialisation is personal branding. There are a number of steps that make up my Shine Personal Branding System with one area being visual communication. How you portray your brand through your outer appearance and style. 

Being creative and coming up with a style reflective of your personality may seem a bit contradictory to “uniform code” for a business environment. So how do we approach it and get the right balance of personal brand and professional brand? Here’s a couple of ideas.

Casual Friday or mufti day. I’m asked to attend a meeting on a Friday where they have told me it will be casual – no need to dress up. I still need to look business like as I am there to discuss or potentially win new business. Best bet is smart trousers and top with a blazer over the top. Statement jewellery and flat closed in shoes. A male alternative would be smart pants, open neck long sleeve shirt, jacket – optional.  At work follow the company dress code.

One time when I worked as a senior executive in a corporate environment, I was asked by an EA – why I didn’t wear jeans like the rest of them. I do love jeans, they’re a favourite item of clothing, but for me not at work (unless I am working from home). As a leader, I wanted to set the example and also reflect my own personal brand that you can still be business casual and show a bit of style without wearing jeans.

The creative I work at an App developer/Surfing company/internet provider – i.e everyone is super casual. What do I wear? 

Well you wouldn’t want to be seen dead in a three piece suit. Just wouldn’t be right for that environment. How the boss dresses perhaps is reflective of what is expected by employees. However, hoodie not compulsory.

There are a lot of hugely successful companies where productivity and brand is not impacted at all negatively by what employees are wearing. You would find however that the heads of these types of businesses would still dress professionally (maybe even in suits) if they were meeting with bankers or investors. 

Likewise if you are an accountant or lawyer you would not be frowned upon looking more businesslike and dressing like the professional they expect to see. Even Mark Zuckerberg (of Facebook fame) ditched the hoodie and wore a suit when he testified before Congress a while back, no doubt to appear more credible and authoritative.

I often say, “You are a walking talking business card for your brand and business.” What sort of impact do you want to make through your brand image?

Your presentation reflects the overall impression of your company particularly when presenting or conducting media interviews. Perhaps you or your spokesperson needs to liven up your look. We work with business leaders and entrepreneurs to align your visual image with your brand, product or service. Contact us or learn more about executive image consulting.

Learn more about how your image reflects your brand with the free video series, NOOK, LOOK,HOOK 3 Steps to Build a Stand Out Personal Brand.   

Sue Currie is a speaker and the author of IMPRESSario, Present and Promote the Star Within You. She is recognised as a leading authority on personal branding to boost image, profile, brand and business. Through her image management and profile building programs, workshops, consulting, keynote and online presentations, Sue helps businesses and entrepreneurs position and present an influential professional brand.

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