As a professional or business owner, you know people make a snap judgment about you in the first 30 seconds they meet you. No, it's not necessarily fair to judge a book by its cover, but it is the reality. Below are some tried and true simple things you can do to ensure your professional image works for you and not against you:

1. Neatness counts!
Make sure your clothes are neat and tidy, have all their buttons, and don't have stains. Ensure your clothes are pressed so it doesn't appear as though you've just rolled out of bed.

2. Shop Fit NOT Size
Even the most expensive clothes can create a poor first impression if they don't fit properly. The average person should have 2 - 3 different sizes in their closet at any one time. No, I'm not talking about your "fat" or "thin" clothes. Each manufacturer cuts their garments differently than the next. Expensive designers also use the trick of cutting their clothes bigger so that the average sized person wears a smaller size in their garment. Make certain to purchase clothes that don't pull at the pants pockets or around the waistline. If you are petite, expect to have most of your pants and jacket sleeves altered. It's worth the investment!

3. Designers Not Necessary
It isn't necessary to wear all designer duds to look professional. A moderately priced suit in a wool or gabardine blend can look "expensive" if properly accessorized. Grow your wardrobe by choosing key classic pieces. Men, put your money into your ties. A less expensive suit with a more expensive, sharp tie looks great. Ladies, invest in a year-round weight suit or separates for easy mix and match. Refined fabrics are best. Skip the machine washable suits! Pair your suit with a great broach or scarf to show off your personality.

4. These Boots Are Made For More Than Walking
There's nothing worse than seeing a sharply dressed professional and then getting to the bottom of the look to see tattered shoes. Guys shine ‘em and make sure your belts match. Ladies, make sure your shoes are in good repair and replace the heels (or the shoes) if needed, don't walk around on nails. It's unattractive AND dangerous (I know!).

The other area many women miss is hosiery. You want to wear hose that are the same color value or darker than your skirt and shoes. A good rule to follow is 2 of the 3 (hemline, hose, and shoes) need to match. That said; don't walk out the door wearing a red skirt, nude hose and black shoes.

5. Business Casual Doesn't Equal Sloppy
Today many businesses have adopted a "Business Casual" dress code. If you are meeting clients at their site, you don't want to be too over dressed or look sloppy. A sharp pantsuit for the ladies or dress pants with a casual shirt and blazer for men are great choices. If you are meeting in an even more casual environment (on the golf course perhaps) make sure your pants are crisply pressed and you have on a shirt with a collar. A belt and nice casual shoes (vs. tennis shoes) help pull the outfit together for a more "finished look".

6. The Eyes Have It!
When a person looks you in the eyes you can tell they're sincere. That's why it's important that you make it easy for your clients to look YOU in the eyes. Don't wear loud patterns or overpowering colors. Choose colors and shades that best compliment your skin tone. If you're not sure what those are, find a professional who can help you (contact me if you need a good referral). Everything you wear should help bring the attention to your face, not draw people towards looking at your belt buckle or chunky necklace.

7. Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow
Hair trends come and go and if you are a hair stylist, your style should reflect that. Otherwise, choose a style that compliments your face shape and fits into your lifestyle. If you are a guy who is "folically challenged", whatever you do DON'T comb it over. Embrace your extra forehead and the fact that many guys willingly shave their heads as a fashion statement. You're in and don't even know it. Men also need to be weary of excess facial hair and the unibrow. While there is a lot of talk about "metrosexuals" and men looking too feminine, no one wants to look at a caterpillar above your eyes. Find a salon (yes I said a salon) and have your brows "cleaned up". You won't walk out with pencil shaped brows looking like a woman, I promise you. The same goes for you ladies. Keep your brows neat as well.

Lastly, Let Your Personality Show
We are all unique individuals. Let that show through your style. Don't dress like a conservative accountant if you are the Managing Director of a dance troupe. It's important to look professional, but you also need to "look the part!

Author's Bio: 

Victoria Cook, ACC is a certified coach, speaker, author, and expert on guilt-free results. Her unique 7-step process has helped thousands of business owners achieve professional success and personal fulfillment. Victoria offers goal setting articles, assessments, and other tools on her web site at www.TheGuiltFreeCoach.com. You will also find details on her famous Big Goals No Guilt 30 Day Business Challenge at www.30DayBusinessChallenge.com.