Suit Up: A Definitive Guide to Presentation Wear

As a presenter, it’s important to look your best when facing an audience. You want to come off as respectable, professional, and trustworthy. As much as we’d like to think otherwise, these things can be interpreted from the way you dress.

Of course, preparing great content and design is crucial to your success. But you should also take the time to consider your presentation wear.

For more info on what you can and can’t wear, take note of these presentation attire pointers:

Presentation wear tips and tricks

When in doubt, go for your favorite classic pieces. (Source)

1.) Dress a little bit better than your audience would

To learn the appropriate attire for your presentation, find out what your audience is likely to wear. As a general rule, it’s always better to dress a little bit better than them. If you’re presenting to a more casual and creative group, you can throw a blazer over your shirt to pull your look together.

For a business formal crowd, go with your best suit. Classic colors like black, gray, and navy blue are a safe bet. Make sure your suit is a perfect fit. For women, keep your jewelry choices conservative. A modest pearl necklace can add some feminine touch to your pantsuit.

2.) When in doubt, go for business casual

Only about 9% of American companies require employees to be in business formal clothes. For everyone else who doesn’t fall into that group, business casual is the way to go. For men, opt for slacks or corduroy pants paired with a button down shirt. You can also put on a blazer, sport coat, or sweater.

For shoes, go with something that’s “relaxed but elegant” in the same conservative colors mentioned above. On the other hand, tailored trousers do the trick for women. Pair them with an interesting but modest top. You can also go with a conservative dress or skirt, if you want. Wear heels that aren’t too high (more on this later), or sleek-looking flats.

3.) Dress in something that will allow you to move

Body language is important to presentation delivery, so make sure the clothes you wear has room for movement. Don’t wear anything that’s too tight. For women, keep in mind that you’ll be on your feet the entire time. While heels are an elegant touch, you want to make sure you’re comfortable standing up for a long period of time.

Even if your presentation won’t last long, you will also have to move around the room to network with people in your audience.

4.) Don’t wear anything that will distract you or your audience

Following on the previous point, make sure your clothes don’t distract you from delivering your presentation. Don’t wear something that you need to adjust every few seconds. Make sure your pants fit well, or that your skirt isn’t too short.

Similarly, it’s also important that your clothes won’t distract your audience from the message you’re delivering. For women, avoid wearing jewelry that are too large or will make noise when you move. For men, don’t wear ties that have loud prints or colors.

5.) Be mindful of details

Lastly, it’s important that your presentation wear is polished to the very last detail. Make sure your clothes are well-pressed. Don’t wear something that has a tear or is missing a button.

Aside from your clothes, it’s important that your hair also looks groomed and sleek. Men should trim or shave their facial hair, and women should have a bit of makeup on.

The Final Word

Presentation wear depends on the context of the event you’re speaking at. It will depend on who you’re addressing, and what your subject matter is. The culture of your industry or company will also come into play.

If, for example, your workplace has a strict dress code, you’d want to be in formal business wear when you deliver a report to executives.

The case will be different if you’re in the creative industry, set to present in front of copywriters and graphic designers.


Featured Image: Robert Couse-Baker via Flickr

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