Sheepskin jacket or sharp suit – what does the 21st century entrepreneur wear?

I wonder if you’ve enjoyed the “Little House on the Prairie” books? I loved reading them to my daughter. The stories of ordinary women and men, battling natural elements and wildlife to build homes on America’s undeveloped terrain, embody the concept of entrepreneurial spirit. They were pioneers and surely that’s exactly what an entrepreneur would seek to do – venture into unknown territory believing that what they can do will improve the lives of many people.

Britain’s most famous entrepreneur, Richard Branson, describes entrepreneurship in business terms,

“Entrepreneurship is about turning what excites you in life into capital so that you do more of it.”

Entrepreneurial spirit is highly regarded by most of us but the concept of the entrepreneur can often be treated patronisingly. What separates the suave business person from the sheepskin jacket clad entrepreneur (we’re thinking Only Fools and Horses here)? Well success and money of course. Or more accurately, the clothes of a successful and rich business person. While many entrepreneurs will invest their savings in a project that they believe passionately in, they can omit to spend money on their most important brand material, their appearance. The entrepreneur’s clothes will not necessarily be the business clothes of the corporate world, Richard Branson and Anita Roddick immediately come to mind as successful entrepreneurs who refused to kowtow to those unwritten dress codes. In fact, wearing clothes that are different from our peers can differentiate our brand and make our company/charity stand out. However, it’s important that we stand out for all the right reasons. So what do the clothes of a person with entrepreneurial spirit look like?

AUTHORITATIVE: If we want to encourage people to believe that we’re leaders in our field, that they should trust our products/knowledge/services, then we have to exude confidence. While successful business people will do this naturally no matter what they’re wearing, those of us who are currently building our companies can do this by wearing clothes that convey authority. Please note that this should not be a foreboding authority but rather a clear authority in our area of speciality. Clothes that can help us do this will have sharp angles in collars and lapels and will display a higher contrast in the colours of outfits. There’s a reason that police uniforms and clergymen wear outfits made up of only black and white!

DIFFERENT: While Roddick and Branson didn’t try to fit in with the corporate world they didn’t dress down. Branson was making a very clear statement when he wore an open necked shirt and blazer, “I’m different but I’m not that different.” The lack of tie indicated the difference, the good quality blazer, the sharp angles of the shirt and the high contrast between a deep coloured jacket (i.e. navy) and light coloured shirt (i.e. pale blue or white) all conveyed a strong personality and confidence.

EXPENSIVE: Money will often be in short supply when we begin new ventures but it’s important that we appear at ease with our budget, that we don’t have to watch every penny. If you’re going to invest in one garment, I would recommend it be a fabulous coat. This will be the first thing that people see when they meet you and if it’s well tailored can make a great impression.

To ensure that your entrepreneurial spirit is acknowledged and respected it’s vital that you consider your appearance – stand out from the crowd, but not too far.

1 Comment on Sheepskin jacket or sharp suit – what does the 21st century entrepreneur wear?

  1. I agree with your advice. I try to avoid suits (too corporate, too masculine), preferring tailored dresses (sometimes with a jacket and sometimes with a fashionable bolero or cardigan). People remember you when you dress well.

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