Trying to Dress for Success

A Q&A With Ron Price

Ron,

I have a question and I’m wondering if you could offer a little advice. Since working with you, I’ve added several new professional development books to my library, but so far I’ve not seen anything in the books I’m reading about a professional dress code.

For my job, I used to wear business casual attire, but I often found myself with paint stains, drywall mud, oil, etc. on my pants due to the conditions on the job. On two occasions I actually tore open my pants and one shirt walking through a jobsite. So I migrated to wearing jeans and county uniform shirts, but recently I notice that compared to my colleagues, I feel and look underdressed for a Director.

Is there somewhere I could look for advice on how to dress appropriately for the job I do?

Thanks, 

Trying to Dress for Success
Director of Operations & Facilities

 

Dear Trying to Dress,

Thanks for reaching out!  

I’m not aware of any current books around appropriate dress codes. Here a few guidelines I often share with clients in thinking about appropriate dress:

  1. Consider how your boss, peers and subordinates dress.
  2. Think about dressing one notch above how your customers or constituents dress.  To go much higher that that may be counter productive.
  3. At work, dress for maximum connection and influence with others—not to please yourself.
  4. How might you dress if a high ranking government official or company executive was going to visit you?  Why not dress this way all of the time?
  5. Dress in a way that shows you are serious about your work.

You make an excellent point about the diverse nature of your day-to-day work.  I think you have to balance the functionality of your clothes with how you want to show up as a leader. When I was in the manufacturing business, I rented white shirts with company logos and dark blue, pressed pants that were designed to be worn in a manufacturing environment. It helped me show up as both serious about my job and professional in my appearance. I didn’t have to worry about damage to my clothes because they were replaced whenever necessary.  

When I started Price Associates, I always wore a business suit with a dress shirt and tie to demonstrate thought leadership and a commitment to excellence. Over the years, I have learned that not all clients appreciate the formal dress look—in fact, some clients have asked me to always show up in denim to match their dress culture. One client threatened to cut my tie in half if I wore one again! 

I hope this gives you a few more things to think about.

All the Best!

Ron Price
President & CEO
Price Associates