Business Leaders

Dressing for Success

Written by Chukwuma Asala for Gaebler Ventures

Dress has always been very important in business. No matter the industry, there is a universal look that every successful person has. This article will go over some of the ways to enhance your business image so you can put your best foot forward.

The famous saying in business and networking is "You only get one chance to make a first impression".

Dressing for Success

In business, this is not just a mere quote, this is a fact.

Most people size up someone they meet for the first time in the first five seconds of meeting them. Certain things are unconsciously observed within those first five seconds that can either break or make that connection a good one.

Here are some of the most important things to be sure you have in order when meeting a business prospect, giving a business presentation, attending a conference, attending an interview or any other type of business engagement that involves meeting people.

Proper Business Dress

The safest bet for men is always a suit. Style doesn't matter too much, but the suit should be well fitted with the appropriate lengths for both the pants and the suit jacket. Dark colors like Black, Navy Blue and Smoke Grey are preferable over any other colors with a white shirt as a background. White is universal and goes well with any suits and any ties. The back of the pants should rest comfortably at the base of the shoe but not touching the ground with the front of the pants resting comfortably on the front of the show with little folding.

The arms of suit jackets should not pass the wrist and preferably should be at least three-eighths of an inch from the wrist to allow the shirt sleeves to show up from under the suit jacket which gives a very professional look.

Ties should command respect like solid red, pink, something that stands out noticeably. Make sure that the tie does not pass over the belt buckle of the pants but isn't too short either.

For women, dress suits are very professional and are really a step up from pant suits. Pant suits should be used for semi-formal wear. And remember to always wear pantyhose at all times. For dress suits, it is important that the skirt not be too high and the top of the shirt not be too low. If the budget is limited for both men and women, purchase two good suits and alternate the shirts in the case of the women and the ties in the case of the men.


For men, less is always better. Hair should not be distracting. Long hair does now go well in business. It might be popular in the younger generation but in business is just looks silly. How many CEOs do you know with long hair?

Make sure that if you use hair gels or pomades that it is used in moderate amounts. Facial hair is fine but it is safer to stay clean shaven with no sideburns. Most people feel a man with a beard or a moustache has something to hide. Sounds silly, but why let a little facial hair keep you from establishing credibility with a prospect who shares that superstitious view.

For women, hair should be neat no matter what the style is. Once again, any hairstyle that is too distracting should be discouraged.


Nails are one of the first things people notice. Make sure that fingernails are cleaned and manicured. Biting of the nails leaves the fingernails looking very unkempt. If you are in the habit of biting your nails, stop!

Women should be careful not to wear their nails too long. This is fashionable outside the business world but could be a turn off or distraction in a business setting. You probably couldn't give a proper handshake with fingernails the size of French fries anyway.


All visible piercings in men should be removed. Once again, this may be popular in the younger generation but it sends a different message in the business world. Ear piercings, lip piercings, nose piercings, any type of piercings are not to be worn. Watches with chain straps are fine but should be properly fitted around the wrist. Leather straps work perfectly as well.

Women can wear ear rings but should stay on the conservative side. Pearls are a popular choice for dress suits in women but other types of necklaces are fine. The word here is conservative. Less is always better.


Dental is expensive, but can go a long way to ensuring you make a good first impression

A smile always attracts people, but a good-looking smile is always a winner. If you have any gaps or deformities in your teeth see if you can get braces quickly to close the gaps and give you a dashing smile. Whitening your teeth is also a good investment. This gives your smile a sparkle.

When you have good teeth, you want to smile and you want to meet new people. It gives added confidence and your prospects will feel that.

Chukwuma Asala is an international student from Nigeria who is studying to earn an MBA from the State University of New York in Albany. He has analyzed more than 20 industry case studies throughout his education thus far, and hopes to bring some of his business knowledge to

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