Whether you’re preparing for a Zoom meeting or a transition back to the office when stay-at-home orders lift, knowing how to dress the part might be the key to closing the deal.

I recently invited Bree Jacoby, CEO and founder of Bree Jacoby, Home of Style, to talk to my team via Zoom. Jacoby’s clients range from CEOs to athletes to moms. Her company, which started out specializing in personal shopping and fashion styling, is now branching out into home, lifestyle and wellness. 

During her presentation, Jacoby offered great advice that’s relevant both now and in the post-quarantine world. If one of the projects on your quarantine list is cleaning out the closet, she has a few tips and rules that will help make the process easier. 

If you are meeting virtually with clients and colleagues, Jacoby also offers advice for making a great impression on Zoom calls. Most of all, her lessons in style are timeless and work for any situation — whether you’re meeting with clients, showing homes or making your first office reappearance after stay-at-home orders are lifted.

First impressions and quarantine chic

Everybody is into the idea of showing up for Zoom calls with a business casual top and pajamas on the bottom. According to Jacoby, while you may be able to get away with it, this look doesn’t allow you to operate at the highest level.

“You’re a brand, representing both the company and yourself,” said Jacoby. “When you are dressed right and you feel good, you’ll communicate better, both verbally and nonverbally. You build confidence both internally and externally.”

As to first-time meetings with clients, whether virtual or in-person, “You want to show up better dressed than the client, but not too overdressed,” said Jacoby. Not sure how to dress for that first impression? Check out the client on social media and get a sense of their style, then elevate your style slightly above theirs.

Jacoby says that the rules of quarantine are to be “approachable in your attire and empathetic in your communication.”  Try to find an attractive background, not just a blank white wall. If you’re meeting with a wealthy consumer, look for a chic background for your Zoom chat.

Shop your closet

Since they’re not really going anywhere, most consumers are not shopping. They’re looking for services right now and focusing more of their efforts and energy on basic needs.

In order to look your best, shop your own closet, and craft a wardrobe rather than choosing an outfit from random pieces of clothing. Edit out looks that are outdated — like three-button jackets, pleated trousers or bootcut jeans — items that are worn out or that no longer fit properly.

Rules for the new business casual

In order to update your wardrobe while staying professional, Jacoby offers the following advice:

For men

  • A sports coat is not a suit jacket that you’ve taken off of your suit. Invest in a few good sports coats — first blue, then gray, then windowpane.
  • If pants are too long, have them tailored to a “normal break.”
  • Fit is everything. Nothing should be baggy. Pants should have flat fronts and be fitted and tapered at the ankles.
  • To tell if a jacket fits, button the top button, then put two fingers in between the button and your chest. If you can fit more than two fingers, your jacket is too big and should be altered.

For women

  • Dress for your body shape. Don’t wear dresses that are too short or too exposed.
  • Everyone likes solids. Shy away from prints, and favor classic colors like black, white and gray.
  • Wear a blazer over your shoulders or over a nice T-shirt in order to instantly elevate your look. Keep a blazer in your car for the same reason.
  • Get a suit in case you need to dress up. Own some nice slacks. 
  • Jeans are crucial — no bootcuts. Opt for mid-rise styles with tapered ankles.
  • Have something on you that shows that you’re successful. Don’t wear head-to-toe designer brands, but a subtle piece like a purse, watch or shoes that are expensive and fashionable.

For everyone

  • Don’t wear a trend that you don’t like to see on others. You won’t feel comfortable.
  • Put a pair of dress shoes in your car in case you need to dress up your outfit.
  • Simplicity is key. Buy good core pieces. Don’t chase trends.
  • If you gain and lose a lot of weight regularly, invest in two wardrobes rather than constantly wearing clothes that are either too tight or too big.
  • Great business casual shoes include fashionable sneakers and loafers for both men and women.

Remember, said Jacoby, “You are selling a dream and a lifestyle when you sell a home. Show up looking great and like you belong in that home. Mirror what you’re selling and who you’re selling to.”

Troy Palmquist is the founder and broker of The Address in Southern California. Follow him on Facebook, or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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