The importance of dressing for the right kind of business
It’s a well-established fact that people make assumptions about you that are based upon what you wear. Creative leaders such as Mark Zuckerberg, and forward-thinking companies including Google, have made dressing in jeans and a hoodie create just as strong an image of confidence and leadership as the traditional suit, and what constitutes ‘business dress’ is a continuous hot topic for discussion in offices across the country.
Last year, in a highly publicised case you’ll almost certainly have heard about, a receptionist was sacked for not wearing high-heels whilst working in a prominent London accountancy practice. This incident began a furore of publicity which attracted interest from Parliament – not to mention the world’s media.
I’m very happy to report that here at Rickard Luckin, our dress code isn’t quite so stringent! Our common-sense policy amounts to presenting a professional image and remaining smart at all times but, like a lot of businesses, we look forward to ‘dress-down’ Wednesdays at the end of each month, during which we raise money for local charities.
As an accountancy firm, we of course recognise the importance of dressing appropriately for business. For example, we tend not to greet our clients in jeans and T-shirts – even if our meeting happens to take place on the last Wednesday of the month.
That isn’t to say our clients will always request this level of formality from us themselves. Some of the clients we’ve worked with at Rickard Luckin have asked that our auditors dress down when visiting them, expressing concern that otherwise they would stand out too much in their more informal office environment. We also have a number of rurally-based clients that we see on a regular basis, some of whom have big dogs that jump up at you the moment you walk through the door – so clearly not the time to wear your favourite suit.
Heading up Rickard Luckin’s dedicated Small Business Unit, I meet with new business owners every day to discuss their exciting plans for growth, and it’s always very interesting to take note of the many and varying interpretations of how they believe successful business people should dress.
Ties, for example, are seen as excessively formal by creative types in particular – though this isn’t so much the case in more traditional industries. When I arrived at an informal meeting with a banking client recently, I wasn’t wearing a tie, something that was noticed and light-heartedly commented upon immediately!
So as business people, the lesson to take from all of this is that dress codes are as diverse as clients themselves, and that you should try as hard as possible to present yourself according to their individual expectations. After all, wearing the right kind of clothing is an extension of business etiquette in that it sets certain expectations not only about your professionalism, but also your ability to make your clients feel comfortable as you work together – something we always try our very best to achieve here at Rickard Luckin.
And remember, if in doubt always dress up rather than down!
If you’d like to talk to us about starting and growing a business, then however you like to dress, we’re always happy to start a conversation. Please contact a member of the Small Business Unit.