Updated: May 4, 2018
Wether you're networking, pitching or hitting up your first board meeting, you're expected to conform to Society's portrayal of what's classed as Business attire.
I buzz so hard over debate, and so I became pretty out-spoken whilst on a 5-day business course that I attended 4 years ago, when our "Mentor" decided to approach the subject of Appearance and the importance of ensuring that your smartly dressed in order to be taken seriously at our upcoming investment meetings.
I was like a little time bomb just waiting to explode as he droned on about it so the second he took a breath, I piped up, actually I stood up mid way through my speech and addressed the whole room with my thoughts on the bullsh*t we'd just been fed. Ever the non-conformer, I managed to turn a relatively placid speech about how personal presentation can end your career before anything else gets chance to, into an hour long debate which ended in a feminism discussion & discrimination chat.. But the point was, 1. always make your opinion count, 2. open debate is healthy debate, 3. you don't have to wear a suit to be taken seriously and lastly, we'd managed to completely gel as a group because everybody had an opinion & it put all the crap team building excerises we'd undertaken on the first day to utter shame.
My point was this, Apple, Google, Amazon, Harley and Disney all started in shed-like out buildings.. Business wise that could be classed as very diy. Lily Allen spent her entire career attending "Red Carpet Events" teaming her dresses with trainers and actually studies show that now only 1 in 10 people will wear a suit to work. With dress-down Fridays becoming a favourite and high street stores teaming chinos or plain tees with blazers, Office attire has never been easier to accommodate with a normal wardrobe.
And this was my point,sure i wear heels, and blazers, and occasionally a trouser suit. But I'm not about to only wear these kinds of clothes to create some sort of reliable business woman vision for a board of equally bland looking panelists.
And with my point made, I met that mentor on the day of my investment meeting wearing ripped denim jeans, a slogan tee, oversized boyf blazer and converse trainers, and before I entered the meeting I made it clear to him that If i failed to impress with my business model it would be based on my work needing further attention to detail or adjustment, not down to my choice of footwear and assured him that I would return again with an updated Plan wearing exactly the same outfit.
Sure enough, I aced my investment meeting and gained the extra capital I needed at the time, based purely on by business merits. It's important to stand up for what you believe in, especially in a world that pursues conformity in such a way as the 21st century does.
I'll actually go as far as to example this situation further, remember when I worked with Cornwall Council and the HSE to sue a Property Company based in Newquay? I was dubbed the youngest female citizen in the County by the G.S.R to assist a Regulatory body by power of attorney, all whist wearing black jeans, trainers and a t-shirt teamed with a blazer, I wanted them to know that I wasn't legally trained but that I was confident that i'd still Erin Brockovich the shit out of the situation and win.
So my point is this, don't feel the need to conform to the usual make yourself look 10 years older and wear societies 'sensible' look to validate yourself, because that kinda shit causes imposter syndrome. Be yourself, you are enough.