Know What to Wear Where and When and Win

Yes, that is a tongue twister if you say it 10 times fast. And, no, that is not a typo. Knowing what to wear where and when so that you will win in the professional world. Today will be a very long day for me. I woke up for some reason at 4:30 (grateful that I did wake up though) and so I began my day. I worked out, ironed my clothes for the day (which I would have done last night but just didn’t feel like it), looked over some client documents, and prepared my portfolio for a consulting opportunity. I’m going to need to be out of the house at 7:10 to handle some stuff before work and still arrive at the office between 8:15 and 8:30. But that’s not what’s going to make today long. Today will be long because I have an after work dinner to go to at which I will still be working. And it is important to know what to wear to this dinner so that I succeed.

Dressing is a lot like marketing. You have to know your target audience. Being that I’m in the field of fundraising, I know what events require my tuxedo and what lunches I’ll need to dress down for in some chinos and a polo.

Tonight’s dinner is with the new parents at my school. Now, I don’t want to come out in my most formal navy suit with all the bells and whistles like a french cuff shirt and a pocket watch. These are new parents who I may be developing relationships with over the next decade or so of their child’s life. I want to meet them and make them comfortable. So, since the weather is still nice out, I’m wearing my brown suit with a bow tie or a knit necktie and some bold (but not too loud) wingtips. Though my target market may eventually see me in my tuxedo, tonight is not a night to come on too strong.

Next week, on the other hand, we have our annual Major Donors’ Dinner to show appreciation to all those who have given a certain amount, as well as to court those who we hope to get to a certain giving range this year. That’s where the cuff links come out. My target market, though they don’t know me, is comfortable with someone in my position asking for x-number of dollars. There’s no need to ease them into the process.

You must know what to wear where and when in order to win.

And please believe that, tomorrow, I will be in chinos and a polo.


Make professional development a priority.


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