Dress to project your business. What should be in the entrepreneur’s wardrobe? At some point, Mark Zuckerberg’s business card quote read; “I’m CEO Bitch…”
In due time, of course, that was changed to reflect the growth and development needed to get the billion-dollar social media giant Facebook to where it is today. But the card and quote have achieved legendary pop status.
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That’s bold. And daring.
I grew up listening to my mother say, “Dress how you want to be addressed” over and over. You should understand, I just started shaving, I had discovered girls, and, like is classic with teenagers, I thought I had it all figured out.
Till today, some of the things in my wardrobe still reflect that rebel state of mind – that “I’ll wear whatever I want, whenever I want, wherever I want” attitude; but truth be told, some balance has been found.
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No matter how crazy or free-thinking you are, there are just some laws you cannot get away from – some rules you cannot take for granted.
I’ve always gone for the casual look. T-shirts and jeans are my basic clothing – day in day out. But things can get awkward in a hurry if you’re invited to a black tie event and the only ‘black’ and ‘tie’ you have on are your shoelaces.
Entrepreneurship thrives on rule-breaking. But I also believe life as a whole depends largely on knowing which rules to break, which to bend and which to roll over for. And, as mentioned before, balance is so necessary for every aspect of life.
So how should an entrepreneur – or anybody – dress?
When shopping for clothes, my watchword is comfort. I don’t do trends – because they come and go and, really, how many times is it effective for someone to shop within a year? I tend to buy stuff that I can wear for a while, and I’m talking quality and style. So once I have established what I would wear/not wear, I look for the most comfortable of my choices. Once I’ve found what I want, only then does budget come in.
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Here’s what I think an entrepreneur’s wardrobe should look like:
Three ‘Correct’ Pairs of Jeans
One black, one sky blue/azure, and one deep blue color should be in the entrepreneur’s wardrobe. Jeans are serviceable wear; they will never go out of style. And smart application makes you look like you’re wearing a new outfit every time. After all, the first thing people notice about you is your shoes – and then your shirt. Only after then do they see anything else.
Three to Four Pairs of Shoes
An Entrepreneur’s wardrobe should have two pairs of sneakers, a pair of penny loafers or boat shoes, and a serious corporate pair (Dr. Martens or Brogues). The sneakers are your everyday wear; stepping to the office or just out to follow up on some business; perfect compliment for your casual wear. The boat shoes are for your slightly formal wear/outings, maybe a brief meeting with a client, or on days you might have a pseudo-serious event to attend. The corporate pair is for your suits – and your suits only.
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Three to Four Shirts
A white short-sleeved number, a sky blue cotton piece, a black polyester (or cotton; even better) should be found in an entrepreneur’s wardrobe. These would serve primarily to go with your suit(s) and blazer – suppose you choose to wear them.
A Number of Various-Coloured T-Shirts
I know quite a number of entrepreneurs will smile with relief when they get here. Honestly, it gave me huge pleasure to write it too.
I’m a t-shirt guy. I honestly cannot think of a piece of clothing more comfortable in an entrepreneur’s wardrobe than a t-shirt – except to go naked. I really love tees.
But apart from my love for them and their comfort, I also subscribe to the truth that they are also the most effective piece of clothing ever. In the time it will take me to put on a shirt, I would have worn and removed at least one t-shirt. And it’s also astonishingly easy to maintain.
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I recommend that you own as many as you can afford. You don’t have to buy high-end designer t-shirts that cost twelve thousand Naira a pop (though if you can afford it, by all means, splurge), but you would do well to buy quality tees that won’t stretch around the neck or lose colour at first wash. Also, buy colors that compliment your complexion – and be aware of what the colors you wear say about you.
One black, one brown should be found in an entrepreneur’s wardrobe. This is for when you want to appear not-too-casual yet not-too-formal. For example, a potential investor invites you for a drink after work. While it’s an informal setting, you don’t want to dress too casually as you would with your buddies. Besides, a blazer is a smart way to make a casual look almost formal.
Hey, those are the ‘rules’ according to me – so who says you can’t make yours? Who says you can’t mix and match a shirt with jeans? Who says you cannot wear sneakers and a suit to a black tie event? Dress for what you want to project.
As long as you’re well aware of the image you’re projecting, go ahead and project!
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