How important is it to wear a suit during a business meeting?

For those of you that run businesses, whether you hire outside vendors for different services or you meet with potential clients… I am curious if you think it’s important to dress formal or not.

Please share you experience and if what you wear really makes that much of a difference. Thanks!

Thanks for your sharing. If you work on a firm on weekdays, it is specified that you should dress up formally to show your sincerity and your respectfulness to others. I think that that is the basics when going into one company. I do hope that you can take what I think into consideration.

Right now I am in India, a pretty hot place in summer. It becomes uncomfortable to be in a suit. So if you feel good and comfortable in jeans and t-shirt so be it. Suits matter the least. But if you are meeting a delegation of suited people in a 5 star hotel then you better be there with a suit.

It depends on your clientele. If your clients are business or business casual, then a business attire (suit or at least shirt/tie for men, dress, pants suit, or other forms of business dress for women). If your client is a t-shirt and jeans or shorts, then a suit would not be appropriate because it’ll put a perception wall between them and you because they will perceive you thinking you’re better than they are.

A contracting firm I worked had a rule - dress one level above your customer. And I’ve seen it in action. I worked as a government contractor on a maintenance contract where the agency was a very business casual (jeans were OK, but no t-shirts). They did a large outsourced project that another agency won the contract for. They held a number of meetings to do requirement gathering, and when they started off, they were all in full business attire - power suits and all. Those first meetings were rough. After a week or two, the contractors toned the dress down (shirts and ties for the guys, but khakis instead of dress pants), and the requirement meetings started to become much more effective as the clients started to relax around the contractors.

Thanks for sharing your perspective everyone.

This helps me appreciate the fact that it’s still important, in the eyes of some, to “dress to impress.”

However, it is a bit concerning to see less and less people have this viewpoint when it comes to business dealings, and in some cases I hear people speak negatively of people that dress formally in a business setting.

Well, times have changed since when I was younger and people used to actually dress formally as a sign of respect.

But one thing that hasn’t changed is “cleanliness”. Probably not a good idea to be wearing torn “work clothes” looking like you just came from doing an oil change on your car. Even if you dress casually you should be well groomed.

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I’ve never worn “formal” attire for any meeting, and even when I was employed with “managerial” status.

Nowadays working as a freelancer I just wear what I’m comfortable in, not untidy but just casual. If the client doesn’t like it then they don’t have to hire me, that’s rarely been the case. people hire me for my expertise, not what I wear :slight_smile:

Great points!

It’s interesting that you mentioned “cleanliness,” because that is also a topic that could have it’s own thread.

Sometimes when I see the same individuals in a business environment routinely dress formal or even semi-formal, but they’re lacking cleanliness and/or neatness… it makes me wonder if they avoid using mirrors, investing in non iron dress shirts, or simply refuse to use an iron.

I’m not trying to attack anyone or call anyone out, I guess I just worry what business fashion will be like 10-20 years from now.

I appreciate you all for sharing your perspective.

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