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Airline Pilots don't wear jeans

Keeping your clothes well pressed will keep you from looking hard pressed.”

Coleman Cox


My wife and I were waiting to board a flight when the pilot arrived and walked through the crowd and onto the plane.  He cut an impressive figure looking both confident, professional and immaculately dressed. My wife, who is a nervous flyer at the best of times, took one look at him and relaxed. Everything about him imbued Christine with confidence.

What if the pilot had shown up wearing shorts and flip flops with a backpack thrown casually over his shoulder? Would that affect adversely affect my wife’s confidence? You bet!  Logically, we know that the way a pilot dresses does not affect their ability to fly the plane, but we draw comfort from uniforms, they tell us that the wearer has earned the right and they know what they are doing.

Uniforms are specifically designed to instill confidence, from the brass buttons and insignia, right down to the highly polished shoes. A uniform says, “I am an expert who can be relied upon.

Business people should look at you and know that you are an expert. They should look at you and know that you are a polished professional who is detail oriented and trustworthy.

I am not suggesting that you should wear a uniform but, could you dress up a little more?

John T. Molloy, the author of the groundbreaking book Dress for Success says,

The way we dress has a remarkable impact on the people we meet professionally or socially and greatly (sometimes crucially) affects how they treat us.”  He also says, “People who look successful and well educated receive preferential treatment in almost all of their social and business encounters.”  Don’t you want to receive preferential treatment?

A former sales manager of mine told me;  “You will never lose a sale because of having spinach stuck in your teeth… that you know of.”  It is a good point.  You never know what will turn people off.

Christine and I met with a financial planner. The three of us sat around a table to look at his plan, we leaned in, and as he spoke I recoiled because his breath was terrible!  He said; “Oh excuse me, I may need a mint.”  I was thinking; you may need a surgeon as one of your organs has obviously gone bad.

I am constantly amazed at how business people present themselves: whether it is out of control eyebrow hair, stained, dirty or un-ironed clothing or straggly unkempt hair.

Following a few simple rules can have a positive result on how people perceive us;

1)   Wear the best clothes that you can afford, quality clothes speak volumes about you.

2)   Dress better than your prospects, not much better, just better.

3)   Take time selecting the right suit.  Your suit is the single most important garment that you wear, it is how people who do not know you, judge your status, character and ability.

4)   Wear high quality lace up shoes and polish them, it conveys that you are into the details. You'd be surprised at how often people look at your shoes and judge you.

5)   Brightly colored clothes, showy jewelry, body piercings or tattoos have no place at work.  Wear it on your own time or cover them up while at the office. Wear nothing that might offend anyone.

6)   Look at your face in a magnifying mirror: are there errant hairs that do not need to be there? That is a turn off for many people.  Mustaches and beards should be neatly groomed. Your hair should be neatly cut and styled. The spiked hair look is difficult to get right. Don't wear it. Go with a conservative style.

The reality is people make split second decisions about you when you first meet. What do you want your clients to think about you in those early stages?

It is said, “when you act enthusiastically you become enthusiastic.”  Maybe wearing professional clothes can help you be even more professional.


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