What to Wear in Startup World

We have all seen it: the brilliant developer rolling in wearing a t-shirt and sandals, cargo shorts and a baseball hat, ready to create the next big thing. The start-up world is as famous for innovation as it is for Mark Zuckerberg’s hoodie and Steve Job’s black turtleneck. And while we work in an ecosystem that fosters individually, it is still important to be conscious of appearing professional in both dress and manner. This understanding is most crucial when pitching a potential client.

As startups approach a potential client, whether it is a business or consumer, dressing the part will help achieve desired results just as much as a great pitch. Clean slacks and a button down shirt for men is a solid and versatile choice. This has become a universal staple in the working world, and adding a simple blazer can be a good addition in a more formal setting.

For women, the lines between business and casual have become more blurred, but a good rule of thumb is to mirror the dress code of the potential client’s office environment. For example, while visiting a law office, a pencil skirt and simple blouse would be a great fit. In a more relaxed office setting, flats, jeans and a patterned blouse can give you a polished yet comfortable look.

Startup CEO Jody Porowski of Avelist said it best when she discussed how her wardrobe varies: “The reality is that my fashion selection is largely dependent on the day’s itinerary. Since every day is different, the skill becomes figuring out what type of people I’ll be with and what’s appropriate for the events of the day.”

The point Jody makes so brilliantly is that addressing your target audience in their own language makes selling that much easier. From the CEO to the marketing guru, every team member is a reflection of the company. Keeping this in mind when pitching and visiting clients will help the business grow in a cohesive way. Just as there is no “I” in team, there are equally no Hawaiian shirts sitting around the Microsoft Board Table.

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