How Should You Dress for a Presentation?

Have you ever wondered how you should dress for a presentation?  You look in your closet and you gasp as you find that you are behind schedule, and you have nothing to wear.  Your presentation is only a couple of days away!  One might quizzically ask themselves question, well, what do I wear?

Former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice ...

Former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Turkish President Abdullah Gül wearing Western-style business suits. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For simplicity let’s address color first. Color is an integral part of your wardrobe. Be sure to keep your colors professional, because an improper mix of color spells disaster.  Neutral colors are the most professional and typically consist of navy blue, tan, khaki, black, white, and off-white. Semi-neutrals like olive or maroon can be added into this mix without much trouble.

Next, comes the attire.  For women, opt for a knee-length skirt and a nice blouse.  Any frills or patterns on a blouse should be kept at a minimum.  The top should not be cut low or tight.  For men, a simple suit, with a button up shirt and tie to top it off works best.  A bow tie may be full of panache, but may take the attention away from your overall personality.  In terms of pattern and color, stick to colors that are simple and easy on the eyes. A dash of color, stripes, or solid hue for the tie should suffice, as well as a neutral hue for the shirt.  Avoid a garish color, eg: neon green, because such would be certain to cause a distraction, and is generally frowned upon in professional circles.

Remember the goal is to put emphasis on you and not your outfit.  Loud colors or ill fitting clothes create distractions for the audience.  Rather than the great points of your presentation, people may be gossiping about your ostentatious attire.  The professional appeal is to make you shine.

An outfit should be still be comfortable however, otherwise you will seem bothered, and your performance during the big presentation will suffer.  Go for a fitted outfit that is neither too loose, nor too tight.  Depending upon your audience, you may be able to forgo the suit jacket, so that you have more arm room for gesticulation, and appropriate body language.  Properly fitted shoes shouldn’t be forgotten either.  Again, discomfort from standing and walking could otherwise impinge upon your captivating presentation.  This also means you should break in any newer shoes to make sure they are comfortable by the day of your presentation.

Wear the outfit a couple of days before the presentation to make sure it fits right.  Look in the back, front and sides of the outfit in the mirror to make sure everything is in place.  Your big moment is coming soon.  Do you feel good about your outfit?  Does your outfit seem reserved, or does it stand out more than you?  Remember that your outfit is just one more prop, one more part of your presentation, rather than letting your outfit speak for you.

Don’t forget about your hygiene either!  First of all, don’t overdo it on the perfume.  It can be irritating, and just as bad as a garish outfit, and that is if it doesn’t cause individuals to just get up and leave!  Also, go for a simple hairstyle. Opting for simple clean hairstyles puts more attention on the face.  For the ladies, tying the hair back into a bun has the effect of focusing the audience more upon the face.  Never allow your bangs to cover your eyes.

Finally before you leave for the presentation, make sure your outfit is crisp and freshly ironed.  Wrinkles will leave a bad impression.  Furthermore, as to be prepared for an emergency, bring a lint roller, sewing thread or extra blouse/pants, and wear dark colors. Remember, it is easier to change a shirt than your blouse/pants if something were to spill on your clothes and wearing dark colors may hide any accidental mess!

Remembering these helpful tips will help you to excel on the day of that big presentation and keep your nerves to a minimum.  As a helpful bonus, how you should dress for a presentation just happens to closely resemble how one should also dress for that important job interview!


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