April '20

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 2 0 A P R I L P R I N T W E A R 1 3 • A minimal amount of jewelry, make-up, visible piercings, and tattoos • Clean, well-maintained and/or polished shoes • No gum, candy, or other objects in your mouth when addressing customers • No body odor or sweat-stained clothing How should you dress? Dressing conservatively is always the safest route, but you should also try and do a little investigating of your prospect's and customer's style, particularly if you will be meeting them on their turf. If the client's custom is to always dress business casual, find out what exactly that means. However, "business casual" is a modern-day oxymoron. Dress code policies have been changing dramatically for the last 20 years. While dressing more casually is meant to make life easier, many employers have had to adopt some business-casual standards. In some compa- nies, business casual has come to mean "crisp, cotton shirts with the company logo, over dress pants, khakis, or skirts; no jeans, denim pants, or shorts; flat, well-made, closed-toed shoes— no sneakers, sandals or flip-flops; sport coats or jackets are encouraged, but not required." In order to distinguish yourself from other visitors to the customer's facility, select ap- parel, fragrance, jewelry, hairstyles and so on that do not detract from your professional image. Try to remember, the customer's attention should be focused on what you say, do, and your qualifications, not on what you are wearing. So, appreciate the fact that, if you look presentable (or better), your appearance will linger in their memory a far shorter time than if you do not. Apparel should be clean, pressed, fit well, and remain in place while sitting and/or walking. Choose professional apparel that you like and for which you receive positive feedback from people who are knowledgeable about what is appropriate for conducting business. A FEW FINAL THOUGHTS Whether in your own plant or in a customer's facility, be prepared to adjust your dress to fit the work you are doing. For example, if you are in business or business-casual attire and you need to conduct some "dirty work," have a change of clothes or excuse yourself to don a set of coveralls, smock, apron, or lab coat. If, at your own facility, the job you do for the majority of the day involves production, have a work uniform or coveralls that is specifically designed to be comfortable, functional, and protective of the clothing you wore to work that day. It is much easier to "dress down" to fit the occasion, than to try to "dress up" an ensemble in a pinch. Many times, in Arizona, I took off my sports jacket or suit coat, rolled up my sleeves, and either removed or tucked in my necktie—depending on the circumstances—to make the customer feel more at ease. Once back to the car and onto the next call, I was able to reas- semble my outfit. Had I started the day in a plaid, cotton shirt and khakis, it would have been next to impossible to add a tie and jacket and look good when business attire was expected. A good rule of thumb is less-is-more and more-is-less. Keep your look simple and success- ful until you become accustomed to the work environment and learn the client's unwritten "dress code." Good luck…and much success! PW Vince DiCecco is a dynamic and sought-after seminar speaker and author with a unique perspective on business de- velopment and management subjects, primarily in the decorated and promotional apparel industries. With over 20 years of experience in sales, marketing, and training, he is presently an independent consultant to various apparel decorating businesses looking to improve profitability and sharpen their competitive edge. Visit his new website at, and send email to THE NEXT GENERATION DESIGN EXPERIENCE

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