Dress For Success... Or Not!

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Jan 15, 2024 by Sean Luce

A few years back, the "casual dress" fad went to such extremes that people came to work wearing jeans,T-shirts, and even "wife beaters." In my opinion, it was the worst thing that could happen to American business.

What you wear around the house on Saturday is not proper dress for the office. In radio sales - as in most businesses - if you dress like a professional you will be viewed as a professional. Resist the temptation to dress the way your advertisers dress, especially those who work in a different setting than you do. Would you put grease on your clothes just because your client owns a service station?

How are your reps perceived in the local market? Do advertising clients view them as true professionals or one of the guys (or gals)? If your account executives need a little prep work on their office wardrobe, remind them about the 7/11 rule: In the first 7 seconds, a person sizes up 11 different aspects of you, as
well as whether they like you, dislike you, or are indifferent to you. Before the first syllable leaves your salesperson's mouth, people are making determinations about him or her - and your company. And your reps are extensions of you, the manager.

The British Human Resources Employment in London reports that a person who dresses well (however that is
defined) earns 12-14 percent more than a person who doesn't (Arena Magazine). This may seem like common sense, but so often the men and women who represent radio to local clients seem to not know or not care that their appearance - and, thus, their perceived professionalism - is substandard. Sales reps could invest a modest amount of their take-home pay to improve their appearance, which in turn will help them make more money (and pay for the new clothes and accessories).

Here are some tips for dusting off those ties and pumps:

- Suits: Whether you wear two- or three-button suits, the most important aspect is the fit. You don't have to spend $2,000 on a suit to make an impression. Suits without pleats are in style now, but don't worry - if you still have suits with pleats in the pants, it's okay. They always come back in style. For women, pantsuits are fine, but again, the fit is most important. Watch for visible underwear lines. That may be fine for after hours, but not during work. Also, be careful not to expose cleavage. You want the client to focus on you, not stare.

- Shoes: As with every house, your wardrobe needs a strong foundation, and that starts with your shoes. Lace-up shoes signify that you are laced up and have your act together. Loafers are named appropriately.

- Shirts: Always wear long sleeves. I don't care if you're in Palm Springs in July. Shirts should be at least 50 percent cotton; they wear better, and keep you from sweating.

- Dresses: Hems should be at least three inches below the knee. You might think it's cool to wear
the short-short dress for "Car Dealer Fridays," but at the end of the day, you still have to sell.

- Belts and Buckles: Thin belts with a small, traditional buckle and squared lines are the most respected. The gold-plated Elvis belt buckle is great if you want people to stare at your crotch, but that's not what we're here for.

If you have questions, pick up some of the most recent books on dress. Don't forget how important that first impression is. The way you dress, look, and act is critical. It takes three times the work to overcome
a poor first impression. And by the way, 37 percent of all business in the tattoo industry is the removal of tattoos. Young professionals are realizing that the viper snake streaking down your leg is just not cool in a professional crowd.

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