We become what we wear, and that makes a difference to our business performance

By Jim James,

Founder EASTWEST PR and Host of the SPEAK|pr Podcast

Nick Hems is a stylist and a great one at that. When it comes to looking confident as a business owner, Nick says you first must find inner confidence and authenticity for the way that you appear. It begins with one’s clothing and body language, because looking like a leader helps secure the buy-in from people, and there needs to be some authenticity there. You need to feel like a leader and believe that you are. You need to find the right reflection in the way that you dress, so that it is still you.

Clothing and grooming have a big impact on one’s confidence, leading Nick to talk about style personality, which is not something everyone understands. It’s not a sense of wanting to look "good," because what does that mean, really? Nick could never dress two people in exactly the same way, because it just doesn’t work. To look good, you’ve got to feel good, and that is individual to everyone. Everyone has a personality and a way that they are. Finding that fit of clothing that you wear is really important. That way, people see through what you’re wearing, that reflection in your personality, and it’s the strongest way you can bring yourself about authentically and reflect who you are.

Clothing and accessories for the confident business owner

To determine what you would look best, first make sure that whatever you’ve got fits, because that’s where majority of people already fail. If it doesn’t fit, have it altered. It’s not just about how you dress and the clothes you wear. It’s people’s perception of you, and when you’re wearing something that looks terrible, even if it’s expensive or branded, you may come across as sloppy, possibly translating into the way you work. Once you’re sure your clothes are the perfect fit, figure out how to accessorise the look without spending too much money and also giving you variety from day to day. For men, accessories could be pocket handkerchiefs, and for ladies, necklaces, bracelets, and broaches could do. If you’ve got a suit, Nick says to think of it like this, "How can I change the look of this suit throughout the week?" With accessories, it makes you look as if you care, and people pick up on that even if they don’t necessarily know it straight away.

For most men, watches may be the only accessory they have. Watches are a really powerful, strong accessory. However, not everyone has the budget to go out and buy an expensive watch, and you don’t need to. A timepiece is a really nice accessory for a man, and it’s all about finding that timepiece that’s going to go with what you’re wearing. You can play around with the watches you’ve got, the different kinds of straps you may have, whether it’s leather, metal, or mesh, as long as it goes with what you’re wearing. It may even be good to buy two lower cost watches, one casual and one formal. You can even buy exceptional-looking watches on a budget. You just need to do your research.

When it comes to shoes, they set off the entire look. You can have a really well-fitted suit, but if you’re wearing the wrong shoes, they completely take away from the entire look. Getting shoes right is really important, and so is making sure that you care for them as well in the right way, and that’s imperative. With shoes, you can come at it from a cost-per-wear basis. Sometimes, you can go out and buy a cheap pair of shoes, which might get worn out fast, or invest in shoes that will maybe last you longer. Shoe are an essential item which can last years, certainly, if you take good care of them. 

You and your staff dressing for the occasion

Dress for the occasion and also dress for the environment you’re in. For instance, you may be looking for a new job and going in for an interview, so do your research. Have a look at what other people wear, where you’re going, and dress for that environment. If it’s an occasion where you’re making a formal statement to a group of people, keep in mind your clothing. You don’t want to come in with your really expensive suit and Rolex watch and tell your staff, "I’m really sorry. We can’t afford to keep you on. We’re going to have to let some of you go." This paints a bad picture. 

Clothes are important too, not as a uniform, but as a dress code. Every company has a brand, whether they know it or not. It’s the way they want to be perceived. When staff are seeing clients, they should be given guidance as to what to wear, so that they reflect the brand. Also, it’s worth noting that if you have the name of the company on an item of clothing, you can offset that against tax. If you were to give your staff shirts or jackets with the company name or logo, that’s a tax-deductible item, so that’s also worth thinking about.

Appearance matters, even (or moreso) in virtual meetings

With many companies transitioning to a work from home setup, Nick says that to create a good impression online, again, it’s about dressing for the environment, not necessarily the home environment, but the environment you’re transporting into. Truly, you wouldn’t want to dress too dissimilarly from how you would be dressing if you were going into a meeting in an actual office. Remember, you set the tone with what you wear. There are many factors to consider even for a virtual meeting, and the way you dress is one very important factor. Lighting and sound then become just as important, because people can’t see all of your body language, they can’t see you, they can’t see everything that you’ve got to offer as if you were in an office, so you need to project yourself in the right way, and lighting and sound help you do that.

In terms of colors, for those looking for a basic assortment of clothes, the world’s favorite color is blue, and it’s a calming color. It’s reasonably neutral, and it’s available everywhere. If you’re looking at ties or squares, blue would be great. If you’re looking at the actual suit, for Nick personally, he’d stay away from black. He prefers a navy blue or grey suit, because it’s more generic. You can wear that to many different places, whereas a black suit is sometimes a bit too dull. It’s not something that you’d want to be wearing to a business meeting.

If people are looking for sources of inspiration, depending on where you are in the process of style, where you want to be, there is inspiration everywhere online. There are people on YouTube that give advice on style and dressing, and they’re not hard to come across. If it’s more inspiration about what to wear, have a look on Instagram. Find people that are around the same age as you, that represent a look that you like, follow them, and look at their photos. If you are lost at where to go completely, have a conversation with someone like Nick. He has a website, and he’s on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn as well. Hopefully, you have learned about dressing appropriately, even if it’s for a Zoom meeting, how to accessorise an outfit, what shoes to wear, and how to project yourself as a business owner worthy of recognition.

This article is based on a transcript from my Podcast SPEAK|pr, you can listen here.

Cover Photo and Video from Nick Hems Style

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