How to Dress

There’s such a difference of opinion in how a sales person should dress.  With London experiencing crazy hot weather these past few weeks, with regular unheard of successive 30 degree days, I’ve noticed dress codes have finally become more sensible.  It’s long been apparent that there really is no common sense at all in wearing some random piece of cloth tied around and dangling from your neck.

It is, it seems, all the fault of the Croatians.  A load of their mercenaries rocked up to the French Court centuries ago with such attire, and it became known as a Cravat, as it sounded similar to the croat language word for, amazingly, Croat.

And at the beginning of the current heatwave, doctors from the government health department went on the news saying employers should loosen dress codes so as to avoid unnecessary stifling in the heat.  Consequently, the whole of London has finally ditched the tie, in favour of smart suit trousers and decent shirt.

Anyhow, one of my Boiler Roomers is a young lady who feels that when we go out visiting prospects, the more make-up, the better.  I’ve pointed out this is inappropriate and she says she sees why.  Which is good.  Yet I’m reminded of what a sales dress code should be all about.  Here’s some of my experiences that have shaped my views:

1) There’s a good scene in the movie Ocean’s Eleven, where Matt Damon is preparing for distracting casino-owner Andy Garcia.  Safe-busting ring leader George Clooney explains he must strike the optimum balance, so that he is smart, yet not too snazzy, being memorable for nothing other than what he says.  I personally subscribe to this view about how reps dress.

2) When I first started repping, we invariably sold to the top bean counter at a firm.  They were ultra-conservative dressers.  And were never ‘trendy’.  I saw this as an opportunity, being a youngster in their early 20s, to stamp a bit of my personality onto proceedings.  I was soon shown the error of my ways.  People who know they’re not the snappiest of trend-followers don’t like people that reckon they are.

3) Some of the first reps I met that I didn’t work with were all selling software and were ex-IBM.  When they walked towards you it was like a kind of mafia was approaching.  They wore a ‘uniform’, with each one having a navy suit (double-breasted no less – it was a long time ago!) with plain white shirt and sober tie.  They looked fine.

4) I went for an interview in the mid-90s, proudly sporting my ‘man-ches-taaar’ sideburns.  Well, the chicks loved ’em(!).  The manager grilling me was happy to put me forward to the next stage, yet said my sidies had to go.  Facial hair on a rep is a no-no.  And I agree.

I’m glad dress standards have altered.  I don’t say slipped, as in the 60s, bowler hats were all the rage and everyone was monochrome.  Whereas today a well groomed dark suit, with decent crisp shirt, worn open necked, and in my opinion along with smart cufflinks, can look highly presentable.  Yet it’s amazing how often you still see dodgy, scruffy, riffy ties, button down collars and ridiculous socks.  Each to their own?

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