How to Dress Professionally for In-Person Business Meetings

Published: 2022-12-01

Whether you’ve been working a fully remote job or you’re a freelancer, you’re most likely enjoying the freedoms that come from being the only one physically in your office most days. That means you might not always put as much effort into your work wardrobe as you would if you worked full-time in a traditional office setting.

But what happens if you move to a hybrid role? Or, what if you have a dinner meeting with a prospective client? You can’t exactly show up in your sweatpants. Instead, it’s time to begin intentionally creating an in-person wardrobe.

Dressing for In-Person Meetings

There is no one-size-fits-all rule for what to wear to a business meeting. What’s appropriate for an accountant or a lawyer isn’t going to be what’s necessarily suitable for a graphic artist. However, depending on the clientele you’re serving, it might be.

So, how do you choose? We’ve rounded up some style tips to help narrow your options.

1. Create a Career Goal

When considering your wardrobe, your 10-year plan isn’t generally the first thing that comes to mind. But perhaps it should be. Your clothing choices, just like the rest of your work life, should have a purpose and be working toward a goal.

Start by thinking about where you want to be in 10 years. What kind of job will you have? What is your desired salary? What company do you want to work for? Who are your clients? These factors will all play a role in what you wear to in-person meetings.

There’s an old saying that you should dress for your desired job. Why? Well, it gives a very visual indication that you take your career and your role seriously. That being said, choose attire appropriate for your future goals.

2. Understand Your Needs

How often are you going to be meeting in person? If you work in a hybrid role, will you be in the office two or three times a week? If you’re meeting clients, is that reserved for one day a week?

Understanding how often you’ll be out of the house will determine how many outfits you’ll need. Suppose you have a hybrid role and work in person three days a week. How often do you want to wear the same outfit?

Nine outfits would ensure that you’re only wearing the same outfit once every three weeks. On the other hand, if you’re meeting with clients and you’ll only see them in person once or twice, it might not matter as much if you only rotate six outfits.

3. Layer Formality

Consider a few more formal outerwear pieces if you have a mixed bag of meetings for the day.

A blazer can dress up nice jeans quickly. Putting on or removing a tie can make all the difference in the formality of your appearance. And your shoes can dress down or glam up an outfit with ease.

4. Pick Your Colors Intentionally

Once you have an idea of the image you want to present, it’s time to start building your wardrobe. And the best place to start is with colors. Choosing the right colors can make a big difference in how people perceive you and whether or not they take you seriously.

For example, red is often associated with power and strength, while blue evokes trustworthiness. Black is a classic color choice for business attire, while a white piece gives a more modern vibe. Consider the message you want to send with your clothing and choose colors accordingly.

If you have any concerns or reservations about what to wear, consider consulting a professional stylist!

5. Consider Neutrals As Your Base

Opt for neutral colors, like black, blue, gray, white, and tan, to limit your professional wardrobe costs. A neutral palette will ensure that all your clothes can mix and match, rather than having multiple pieces that only offer a single option.

You can also add a pop of color with accessories, like a scarf or a statement necklace (as long as they’re not too distracting).

6. Select the Right Materials

Not all materials are created equal, and some materials are better suited for certain types of jobs.

For example, if you’re in a more creative field, like graphic design, you might be able to get away with clothing made from less traditional materials. But if you work in a more buttoned-up industry, like law or finance, you’ll want to stick to classic materials, such as organic cotton, wool, and silk.

7. Choose the Right Fit

Even the most expensive and well-made clothing can look bad if it doesn’t fit properly. If you predominantly work from your home office, it’s easy to focus on comfort, rather than style. And there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as you recognize the need for a different approach on the days when work happens face-to-face.

Paying attention to the fit of your clothing is especially important when choosing business attire. You want to look professional, put-together, and confident. Clothing that’s too big or too small will give off the impression that you don’t care about your appearance and that you’re not taking the meeting—or the person you’re meeting with—seriously.

When in doubt, err on the side of caution and opt for more formal clothing. It’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed. You can remove a jacket or a tie if you need to dress down a bit.

8. Accessorize With Caution

Once you have the foundation of your outfit sorted out, it’s time to start thinking about accessories. The right accessories can make an outfit pop. But they can also be easily overdone. So, as with everything else, it’s essential to choose wisely.

A few well-chosen accessories can make an outfit stand out. A statement necklace or a bold scarf can add a touch of personality to even the most basic ensemble. But don’t go overboard. Too many accessories can be distracting and take away from the overall look you’re going for.

Also, be mindful of jewelry that might rattle every time you move. It could be distracting for you and the person you’re meeting with.

Making Your Own Dress Code

It can be easy to overlook the importance of work attire when you work remotely. But when your work schedule includes in-person meetings, it’s essential that you support your career goals by presenting yourself appropriately. One of the easiest ways to do that is to ensure that your attire reaffirms that you’re a confident professional.