What should designers wear?

What should a designer wear for a meeting with a potential client?
It’s hot as molasses this time of year in my area. I would hope I could just wear a hip shirt with a hip haircut and hip pants and shoes. What’s the dress code for creative types? :cool:

I think wearing clothes that fit your personality works best. I tend to like a good pair of jeans and casual button up shirts for almost all occasions, so that’s what I’ll usually show up in. Only on rare occasions will I wear dress pants and a tie. And I only really wear t-shirts when I’m not going somewhere public/if I’m going to a show (I’m in a band and book concerts). Just fit your environment and personality. There’s no truer branding than who you are.

Damn tooting spike. Couldn’t agree more.

If you came to me in shorts and a TShirt I can pretty well guarentee I wouldnt be impressed and your portfolio had better blow me away.
If I meet a client - regardless of what they wear, I wear shirt and tie.
yes its formal and it might be 100 in the shade but I am a professional and I want that contract.

How someone perceives you is decided within seconds of you walking through the door - make that impression a good one!

If 10 minutes into it and you are sweating like an MP handing in their expenses form, then ask the client if he minds if you take your tie off.

Work smart, dress smart

That’s about the size of it. You can’t tell that to the ‘look at me look at me look at me’ generation though, they grew up with Big Brother and the current fixation on celebrity and think it’s all about them because they’re ‘empowered’.

This is the kind of overgeneralized rule of thumb that has little value. Dress ‘for the client’ not ‘like the client’. Once you know them well, you can dress down because they do.

Certainly you should wear what you feel comfortable in. However, if you don’t feel comfortable wearing a suit in a situation that calls for a suit I would recommend that you still wear one even if you don’t feel comfortable. That’s the only way you’ll eventually feel comfortable!

This is really true. When someone comes to an interview wearing ‘what they want to wear’ or making their statement, I totally respect them for that and I think it’s perfectly fine for them to make whatever statement they want.

Not on my payroll, though.

I want my employees to be able to deal with a variety of clients and they need to be able to look the part. I have my share of tattoos, sure, but if I take out all of the earrings and put a nice suit on nobody can see them and I can pitch new business without a problem :slight_smile:

Don’t agree. It’s not about how you feel, it’s about the impression you make. It really doesn’t matter how you feel at all if you’re making the client uncomfortable because you’re over or under dressed for the occasion.

I might feel great wearing a suit but if I wear one to a consult with the plumber down the road for his £500 website what does that say to him? If I show up wearing jeans and a scruffy teeshirt (my preferred dress) to a meeting about a £5k website, what does THAT say to the client?

What you wear reflects your attitude and is a vital part of your image/marketing. How you feel wearing it is totally irrelevant.

I’ve had designers turn up for an interview in all states of dress. Peircings galore, loads of tatoos on show, purple hair etc etc. One thing I realised as an employer very early on is that a job interview is not the place for making personal statements.

It’s not all about you and damn everyone else if they don’t like it. It’s about fitting into a team where you will be expected to work well with others and compromise when required. Not that I’m saying this is you because you sound like you have your head well screwed on. The point is you need to fit in so as others have said, dress for the job in hand.

Personally, I’d say there’s only one factor that you should worry about when wondering what to wear: how YOU want to be perceived.

What you wear going in for an interview doesn’t necessarily cross over to what you should wear when meeting a client. You yourself should have an image you want to represent for yourself and your business. If you work with high-end businesses that wear suits every day and you want to represent yourself as someone that has a similar high-end business, a polo shirt isn’t going to work. However, if you want to show yourself as a laid back company that perhaps has their own company polo shirts with your logo on them or even just works business casual, that attire would be what you could choose.

You can try to change your image to cater to each prospective client … or simply find the image you are comfortable with everyone seeing and stick with it. That’s what I choose. :slight_smile:

A respected professional I know once told me that if you’re going to meet up with fellow professionals or clients, always dress in a way YOU feel comfortable. Obviously you want to be presentable and not too shabby and you want to be clean and tidy, but in the case of suits, some people just can’t pull them off without looking unnatural (like they put them on only to meet with that person - kinda like kids at an interview). If you feel comfortable in a suit and can pull it off, go for it, but if you are more comfortable wearing smart-casual clothes and you don’t look like a hobo, then go with that. If you feel or look uncomfortable or unnatural in what your wearing you’ll come across worse than if you show up presentable but less strictly or smart. :slight_smile:

Match the dress level of the client, or just a tiny bit higher.

I would have to agree with the majority of what everyone else has been saying in this thread too. I was thinking about this a few months back (actually, back in January) so I did some Googling on the subject and reading up on wearing suits to business meetings and also wearing casual - smart and casual - norm clothing.

Make sure you feel comfortable in what you wear. If you’re a business suit kind of person then wear a business suit. You’ll feel comfortable, happy, smart, and professional wearing one. If you’re a smart and casual kind of person then you could wear some nice smart jeans and a casual shirt. This way you’ll still feel comfortable, happy, and smart, but perhaps you’ll feel a bit more at ease and less tense than wearing a business suit with a tight posture!

I’m personally a business suit kind of person (despite doing design and development, seeing as you asked what a designer should wear). I’ve always loved seeing people wearing smart suits and I like wearing my own :slight_smile: When I’m old enough for it to look the norm I’d like to start wearing a smart three-piece suit :wink: For now I usually wear pants, shirt, and tie.

What I’ve said is in addition to what others have said. Hope that helps :slight_smile:

Andrew Cooper

Exactly what I think too. I usually do ‘casual smart’ when I meet clients. Even though I’m a designer and they probably expect me to show up in jeans, smart clothes just make you look more professional/competent but a suit would make you look too professional IMO (i.e. making too much money…)

Indeed the advice of a sage!

Agreed 100%. Dress is going to differ GREATLY depending on where and with whom you are meeting. I have one client that I often meet in one of their production facilities (read hot steamy stinky factory) If I showed up in dress slacks they would think I was an idiot. However once a year I meet the same client in their boardroom and khakis and crisp dress shirts are the norm.

Bottom line you don’t want to be over or under dressed. Either could potentially make you look like an idiot.

Good point. There are some customers that would not even consider you if you didn’t wear a tie to the meeting, but here in California I think they might wonder if you were from out of town or something. :slight_smile: I think you have to find the balance between wearing clothes that you feel confident wearing, and wearing clothes that fit the situation. It’s best when you have both. But the last thing you want going through your mind at the meeting is “I wonder if these clothes are stupid”.

If you wore khakis to a meeting with me in LA, I would find it odd. I really think it’s silly to provide a single answer to such a broad question. The answer is simply to consider the individual situation - who are you meeting with, where, and the conventions in your local area, etc.

A smart designer who is interested in winning work rather than making a statement will wear whatever is most appropriate for the situation. Some clients are jeans and t-shirt friendly, some want to see a button-down shirt and a tie. Be flexible and make the client comfortable!

Clean clothes at all times!

Seriously though, I’d not follow any dress code but wear good, clean, clothes that you normally wear as well. You could also wear a suit and tie, of course. Not sure how that would make an impression, however, unless you’re at a formal evening event or at a place where wearing a suit is a requirement.

So, based on the temperature and your own preference, I’d say what you suggested seems fine.

Wear nice shoes, dark jeans or khakis, and a polo shirt (or solid colored sweater in the winter) and you won’t seem too under dressed if you clients are in suits, or too overdressed if they are in shorts.