In the season’s finale of Billions, billionaire entrepreneur Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis) stormed the offices of Carter Staley and coerced them into re-investing with his company Axe Capital. Axelrod dares them to trust him again with the challenge “I’m about to go on the run of a lifetime,”.
It is what happened beforehand that is revealing. Axelrod had visited the offices of two other former clients trying to win them back and failed miserably. What was different on this third visit was he had ditched the designer suit in favour of his regular business attire; hoodie, t-shirt and jeans. Comfort level restored, body language aggressive, words unscripted; Bobby Axelrod was back in control.
Clothes are a symbol of our self-expression. Expensive suits no longer denote business success. Office attire no longer distinguishes management from workers. Silicon Valley has been described as ‘full of tribes; the engineers, designers, product managers, salespeople, entrepreneurs and VCs. And each tribe has its uniform’. And many companies now emulate this.
As entrepreneurs we have a certain amount of freedom in how we dress. While the norm is more casual how we look illustrates our company`s culture so there should still be some guidelines in place.
Outside meetings: Keep in mind that you represent your company and your products/services.
In the office – Be authentic: By all means wear t-shirts – but not your favorite weekend crumpled one with the ‘I hate Mondays` message. Ìf you are a female who like to wear dresses in a casual office just tone it down a bit with great flat shoes and a cardigan.
You are the founder/CEO: Like Axelrod wear what makes you self-confident and productive. Your employees will look to you to reflect what is expected of their own attire so remember even ‘casual’ should have a level of cleanliness and polish. However if you are going for a business loan and you’re not a billionaire I would recommend no hoodies.
Richard Branson’s advice for making a good first impression
The Uniform of Success – How to Dress Like An Entrepreneur by Adam Fridman Founder, MeetAdvisors
The Subtle Sexism of Hoodies by Aimee Groth
Jill Crossland is a business and marketing consultant who can take your business and social media to the next level.