When “Dressing For Success” Is Compromised!

by Paul Castain on June 19, 2013

So, let’s look at the “dress for success” thing as meaningless if . . .

Your breath is so bad it could start the windmill on an old Dutch painting.

Consider becoming one with an Altoid. Especially important if you will be engaging in close quarters combat like riding in a car together or talking close up at an event. Note: if people retract when you talk you may be guilty of “Ass Breath”  Also, if anyone ever says “Hey I’m bored, let’s go brush our teeth”  there’s your sign!

Your cologne/perfume arrives 10 minutes before you do and stays until the end of next week.

I remember when I worked with my Dad making the mistake of bathing in some Emporio. He promptly invited me to “Shower it the hell off”. He felt it was a huge distraction and it wasn’t until I was on the receiving end of an over ambitious cologne enthusiast that I forgave my Dad for being a bit harsh that morning.

Your eyeglasses are so filthy your blue eyes have taken on shades of dirt.

There’s actually a simple cure. Pick up a small bottle of eye glass cleaner or wipes that they have designed for cleaning glasses. Keep them in your bag so  you are ready to combat “Optical Skankosis”!

If your shoes look like you were on a construction site before the meeting.

The shoes are by far one of the biggest areas of neglect that I have seen. I’m assuming they are getting dirty between when people leave the house and arrive at appointments but we all know, there are some people that simply neglect shining their shoes. I’ll spare you the common sense moment on why you need to keep up on polishing shoes and focus, instead on how to keep them looking primo! My suggestion would be to carry some liquid shoe polish in your car for those touch ups. It will surprise you how often you will need to use it! For those of you in Metropolitan areas or who find yourself in and out of airports, why not drop the few bucks on a shoe shine? Not only do you get some spiffy looking shoes, you get to sit there and say stuff like “Don’t act like you’re not jealous people” to all the people rushing to catch their flight. How cool is that?

If you pull out some messy pad that you have to flip through 50 pages of “stuff” to get to a clean page.

I won’t lie, this was me, not too long ago. I went out and bought a leather padfolio from Staples and fixed that one real quick. Just when I thought I had it figured out, a multi millionaire client set me straight on something else that was destined for a “Who’d a thunk it?” moment. He sat me down one day and said “Paul (they call me that back home), you wear nice suits, silk ties, monogrammed French cuff shirts, your shoes are always shined and . . . ” I stopped him right there and said “Michael, I’m not into dudes” After shaking his head in complete confusion, he continued “then you screw it up by using that 25 cent Bic pen!” Truth be told, I thought he was being snobby until I stepped back, lost my ego and realized that whether or not my pen was indicative of success, it certainly was a distraction. I upgraded to a nice Waterman pen so when I would ask people to sign, it made a better impression.

Fingernails: I’m not talking about manicured, I’m talking about nails that have accumulated enough dirt to fill in a pot hole! Not a bad idea to keep a nail clipper in your trusty bag, unless, of course, you are striving for that “raised by wolves” look.

This next one is tacky so I will avoid all preface and simply “go there”. In the summer months we can really sweat. It takes no rocket scientist to deduct that where there is sweat, there is at least the potential to become what specialists call “the smelly kid” Short of taking a “whore’s bath” in your client’s sink (and risking them calling you “lazy”), look into a travel size Fabreeze. Get in the habit of giving your jacket a quick once over. It kills odors without putting a heavy scent on your clothes.

Pop Quiz: You are visiting your prospect/client and are wrapping up a great meeting. They walk you to your car continuing a great conversation. Would the inside or trunk of your car embarrass you? Not to brag, but the inside of my car would never embarrass me, but the empty 7-11 coffee cups and wrapper from my egg sandwich might. The only thing you can do if you screw up is to say the following (word for word) “Mr/Ms Prospect/Client, I’m afraid I can’t let you leave. You’ve seen too much!”

How about your computer bag? Does it look like it was dragged on the back of your car for the better part of the year? Don’t laugh, mine used to. I was clueless until a few of my teammates facilitated an intervention on my behalf. Once again they reminded me how distracting it was for them as well as the clients we visited. You know what gang, I knew better and there was simply no excuse for me to neglect something like that!

Do you show samples? I know in the printing industry, they show them like photos of their summer vacation. Keep in mind that color fades over time and samples can just get plain old tired. I’ve even seen coffee stains, dog eared samples as well as out dated ones to boot!

So here’s the bottom line gang, compliments of my late Dad (he was actually quite punctual but I mean late as in deceased and/or dead)
We all have an important message to deliver  worthy of our audience’s attention. We can’t afford to have distractions!

And just for the heck of it, I’m wondering if we pay close attention to the details if that in and of itself sends a message?

Something to think about while you chew on an Altoid. :)

Today, you are invited to be impeccable!

I help individuals and organizations sell more. Click here to see how!

  • Mark Nelson

    What a funny article but so true on many of your points. The cologne perfume one brought smells from sitting by women in church. Their perfume was so strong almost made me gag.

  • http://yoursalesplaybook.com paulcastain

    Thanks Mark!

    That drives me crazy!

  • http://yoursalesplaybook.com paulcastain

    Great addition Cheryl!

    Thank you!

  • http://yoursalesplaybook.com paulcastain

    Ha! I think lot’s of people are going to upgrade their pens after this post Richie. Great idea about the shoe sponge!
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  • LarryMagoo


    Great post to the clueless…I’m even Old School about as I wear a Tie to every Sales call and will wear my Coat for a first time meeting.

    You only have One Shot at a first Impression…why would you make it a bad one?


  • http://yoursalesplaybook.com paulcastain

    Great points Larry and I really respect the idea of the coat and tie especially since (I believe) your neck of the woods in California is typically more of a “business casual” culture.
    Thank you so much for taking the time to contribute Larry!

  • Ken Franz

    I’d keep a small shaving kit in my desk drawer, inside I’d keep a disposable razor, travel tooth brush and tooth paste, sample size mouthwash, tums, soar throat stuff, and not be gross but hey, even anti gas pills can come in handy.

  • http://yoursalesplaybook.com paulcastain

    Thanks Ken.

    That’s an awesome way to stay ahead of this.

    I’d really like to hand out some of those anti gas pills to people on flights. I think it would go along way to combat the excessive silent farting I’ve been subjected to lately. :)
    Thanks again my friend!

  • Tim Rethlake

    Good stuff Paul!
    Our sales members are often on construction jobsites and builder’s offices in the same day. They always have two pairs of shoes in the truck with them (outside & inside shoes) and switch depending on the situation.
    All my best,

  • http://www.odonnellweb.com/blog/ Chris O’Donnell

    I might add that if you smoke do something about any residual smell on your clothes. I got into the elevator today with somebody probably on his way back from a smoke break and it was not pleasant. It’s not 1975 anymore, we don’t all spend the day surrounded by smokers and I think as a generalization people are much more sensitive to it than they were 20 odd years ago.

  • http://yoursalesplaybook.com paulcastain

    Way to be prepared Tim! That’s great!

    Thanks for taking the time to stop by and share your thoughts!

  • http://yoursalesplaybook.com paulcastain

    I can’t believe I missed that one Chris . . . Great addition!


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