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Consider this: You’ve finally set up your business, and you’re ready to build your check list. The president of an important computer graphics company has agreed to meet with your, and you’re confident you can win him over. After all, you are known for your charisma, charm and wit.
So you walk into the meeting wearing a bright gold suit, with an emerald green tie and matching pocket handkerchief. Although your presentation was on point, you can t figure out why the president hasn’t returned your calls.
While this is only a hypothetical situation, many entrepreneurs commit similar fashion faux pas by dressing inappropriately for meetings, blacktie affairs or other business events. Doing so can not only raise questions about your fashion sense, but more importantly, about your professionalism and competence. This is especially true for new entrepreneurs, since a bad first impression can be a serious client killer.
“Your image can be either an asset or a liability,” says Charmaine McClarie, president of McClarie Group, an executive development and communications firm in San Francisco. “Therefore,” she adds, “you should devote as much time and energy creating and building the right image as you do growing your company’s bottom line.”
So how do you create your own CEO style? Whether you’re a new or seasoned entrepreneur, our guide to professional dressing can help you command the attention you need to help take your business to the next level.
Tip #1: DETERMINE YOUR BODY TYPE
“Take a good look at yourself in the mirror and make an honest assessment of your body type,” advises McClarie. “Choose clothes that will work with your shape, not against it.”
For example, if you have a healthy midsection, single-breasted jackets and suits may be more flattering than the double-breasted variety. Stay away from bold stripe patterns. Instead, select fabrics that have subtle checks or weaves in neutral and dark shades — olives, browns, blacks and navies — to provide a more slimming effect.
Women with wide hips would benefit more from swing dresses that flare at the bottom than from traditional A-line skirts. To elongate your figure, your top, bottom and hosiery should all be the same color; your jacket, however, can be a contrasting or similar color.
Tip #2: STICK TO THE BASICS
You want a wardrobe that’s timeless, not trendy. Audrey Rice Oliver, CEO of Integrated Business Solutions, a software development and systems integration company in San Ramon, California, knows that simple, classic designs and fabrics are central to professional dressing. “Don’t buy into clothing tads or conform to a popular style to look good,” says Oliver, 56, who prefers designs by Armani and St. John.
She pairs her suits with knit tops or men’s-style cotton crew-neck undershirts. “You can sit on a plane for eight hours and still look great when you get off,” she says. Oliver prefers high-heeled pumps to give her 5-ft. 9 1/2-in. frame a lean and statuesque look.
Although women have more styling options than men, tailored suits in wool or wool blends are best. Spruce up your silk and linen