“I was brought up to be a gentleman. That means you know how to walk, talk and dress the part.” -Brian McKnight
Dress for your targeted position.
The most important impression is the first one. In fact, people base their opinions of you in the first few seconds of the interaction. How do you shake hands? Do you say hello, hey, or how are you? What is the tone of your voice? Are you smiling? Of these, the way you present yourself is almost entirely predicated on how people SEE you. Think of it as the foundation of your product (you). Is your hair always scattered or that favorite t-shirt is faded? Better change that.
To be clear: I’m not saying that you should follow the latest trends or seasonal colors. Nor am I saying you should spend $100+/month on clothing. What I mean is that in public you should always look what my father always called “presentable”. This means anything from clean clothes with no wrinkles to clean trimmed nails and do it in a way that promotes your brand. Please don’t go to class wearing a dirty hoodie or go to work with unkempt hair.
One day I was at work and had neglected to trim my beard for a while, and did not have it groomed in any way. My cheeks were shaggy and facial hair was a little wild. On this particular day, I was asked to help set up and attend a presentation. One of the gentlemen who attended was a high ranking technical director who I was fortunate enough to interact with. Afterward, I regretted not cleaning my facial hair up. Did it make a major difference in his perception of me? I can’t know for sure, but I would have one less concern about it if I had taken the time. Due to that experience I always dress and keep well, because you never know who you will have the opportunity to network with on any given day, and the details matter.
If you need another reason to dress better, real studies (with science and stuff) have shown that dressing nicer increases confidence and self-esteem. Those qualities are both help your mental health and your ability to work effectively and make an impact. So go Forth. Dress up. Thrown on a suit or khakis and a button up. Take that extra boost of confidence and make a new impression.