Everyone’s had a moment of panic when they didn’t know what to wear to a business meeting with a client. What you wear to meet with a client can help boost your confidence and impress your client. However, showing up underdressed can have the opposite effect. When in doubt, it’s always best to overdress rather than be too casual.
Forbes says that you should “dress for success,” even for online client meetings. Below, you will find a list of dress options for men and women for both more casual and more formal meetings with clients.
Business Casual Meeting Attire
In a casual business meeting, jackets and blazers are optional. Typical business colors are grey, blue, black, and occasionally brown. However, it’s okay to add more color with tops and accessories in a casual setting.
Options for Women
- Tops: Modest button-ups or other dressy blouses are an acceptable option. Patterned blouses and v-necked sweaters are also fine.
- Bottoms: Dress pants, chinos, or wool trousers are appropriate. A tailored, slimmer cut is your best option. If the meeting is casual enough for jeans, choose a darker-colored pair of jeans with a dressier cut.
- Skirts: A-line or midi skirts in dark colors work well in a modest length.
- Dresses: A-line dresses are appropriate in a modest length.
- Shoes: Choose a dressy, close-toed shoe such as loafers, Oxfords, brogues, or heels four inches or shorter.
- Accessories: Jewelry should be minimal.
- Outerwear: A blazer can complete the look but isn’t necessary. You could also layer with a cardigan or vest. Consider a trench coat on a cold day, especially with a skirt or dress.
Options for Men
- Tops: A tucked-in, button-up shirt with a collar is best even for casual meetings.
- Bottoms: Dress pants and chinos are acceptable. If the meeting is casual enough for jeans, choose dark ones that aren’t too tight and don’t have rips.
- Shoes: Choose leather or suede Oxfords, brogues, or Chelsea boots in black or brown.
- Accessories: Wear a belt that matches your shoe color. A stylish watch is also appropriate.
Outerwear: A blazer isn’t required, but wearing a solid-colored one can add a layer of style. A formal wool jacket or trench coat would also be appropriate on a colder day.
Formal Meeting Attire
The expectation for formal meetings is for you to at least wear a coordinating blazer with your outfit. However, a suit may be an even better idea. The simpler the pieces you wear, the more formal they are. You’ll want to choose solid colors and simpler designs rather than statement pieces to maintain professionalism.
Options for Women
- Tops: Dressy button-up shirts are best.
- Bottoms: Choose a tailored or wide-legged trouser in a dark or tan color.
- Skirts: A modest black or tweed pencil skirt is the best option.
- Dresses: Choose a tailored or A-line dress with a modest neckline and hem length.
- Suits: Pantsuits or suits with skirts are appropriate options.
- Shoes: Shoes can include loafers, Oxfords, brogues, or heels four inches or shorter.
- Accessories: Wear a minimal amount of jewelry. You might consider black stockings with a skirt or dress in colder weather. A fashionable handbag can complete your look.
- Outerwear: A blazer is a good idea and can increase confidence. You could also consider a well-tailored trench coat on a cold day, especially with a skirt or dress.
Options for Men
Wearing a tie really depends on your location. More conservative settings like Washington, DC, may expect a tie, while more casual locales like San Francisco wouldn’t necessarily expect one. When in doubt, wear a tie.
- Tops: It’s best to choose a white button-up shirt for a formal meeting.
- Bottoms: Dark-colored dress pants are ideal. Wool pants can keep you warmer in winter.
- Suits: If you decide to wear a two-piece or three-piece suit, be sure it’s high-quality and fits well. Rich colors like navy and dark grey are best.
- Shoes: Brown or black Oxfords or brogues are ideal.
- Accessories: Choose a modest silk tie with nice cufflinks. You should also wear a leather belt to match your shoe color. If wearing a watch, consider a matching leather watch strap. Leather briefcase for men are also a great accessory for formal meetings.
- Outerwear: If you’re not wearing a suit, a blazer is a good idea and can increase confidence. Choose one in a dark color that matches your pants.
Final Thoughts on What To Wear When Meeting With a Client
First impressions are important, and the first thing that a client sees when meeting with you is your attire. Wearing the right thing to a business meeting can make a difference in your confidence level and how the client perceives you, so always aim to dress for success.