Do entrepreneurs really care about how they look?
One might think that entrepreneurs are too engrossed in their businesses, but most of them are equally concerned about their looks, personality and what they wear because they are also the biggest ambassadors of their companies.
Their clothes and looks are usually planned according to their work schedule.
One of the main demands of my clients is that, as owners of huge businesses, they want to look different and distinct from the rest. If you lead a group of people, then your clothes need to reflect that as well.
How do you create the image you want to project?
As a general rule, you are always taken more seriously and come across as career-oriented in plain and neutral fabrics. Dark colours look strong and powerful, while lighter ones look softer and demure. Similarly, pinstripes indicate authority while basic shades like black and white reflect both discipline and order.
Many of the billionaires have global businesses and travel overseas extensively. How does this influence what one wears?
If you are travelling overseas or meeting visitors, the choice of colour and style needs to show them respect and keep their cultural sensitivities and religious beliefs in mind. This can actually make or break any deal you are pursuing or a joint venture you're setting up. Wearing loafers, for instance, is an absolute no-no when you are striking a deal.
What is the most important accessory?
Many Indian businessmen don’t give much importance to belts. One of them told me, “It is just to keep my pants up!” But one should remember that belts are at the centre and always attract attention. Always wear belts with simple buckles. The colour of your belt must match your shoes, wallet and carry case.
One of my clients asked me if he could wear loafers to office. If it is a relaxed day in office, then yes, one can wear cut shoes. But not when you have serious, formal meetings.
Some of them like to wear big watches. Is that ok?
You can, if you want to be noted or heard. One thing to remember is, at the level of a billionaire, one should always wear a watch with a leather strap to go with the suits.
How does one become a billionaire in body language?
Besides dressing to impress, pay special attention to what you say. People who are secure or who are in power speak less and in short sentences. Never raise your voice or change the pitch during a conversation. Gentle words, with frequent pauses and a steady tone, always work better and more effectively.
To make your clothes look good, your body language is just as important. While standing, rest your body weight on your own feet. Keep your chest out and stomach in. Standing with your legs slightly apart and hands relaxed on either side reflects confidence, dominance and power. This also ensures your suits don’t crease and you look and feel a lot sharper!
Travelling is an important part of leading a big, global business. How does one make sure one has all the essentials of a wardrobe and, at the same time, travel light?
While travelling, I always recommend planning a single-colour wardrobe for a business trip. This allows one to travel light and mix and match both clothes and accessories. Have combinations ready for every important item on your schedule: A meeting, lunch, conference, presentation or site visit. Travelling also leads to skin issues. Many of them also complain of dark circles under their eyes after long flights. The remedy is simple: Take two tea bags, soak in cold water, squeeze excess water and then place tea bags on your eyes for about 10 minutes. Or, keeping potato peels over eyes also works wonderfully.
Do they actually follow that?
The tea-bag remedy is popular. But some of them do follow the potato-peel regimen as well, and it is not just the ladies!
A couple of years ago, in an AGM of a company, a shareholder criticised the billionaire owner for his extra kilos, saying it affects the image of the firm. Is weight an issue?
Weight gain and hair loss are among the biggest concerns for leading entrepreneurs. The simplest but the toughest way is to control the diet. Including more vitamins in your diet will limit hair loss. Others go for easier remedies like hair transplants.
You can also adjust your wardrobe to suit your physique. One of my clients was playing golf with a business associate, who was extremely fit, and was concerned that his big belly might let him down. I asked him to replace his T-shirt with a half-sleeve shirt that helps hide some of the stomach fat.
How often should one change one’s wardrobe?
Some of the businessmen tend to retain their wardrobes for years, others change every six months (including a client with 350 suits!).
Rather than changing your wardrobe completely, it’s advisable to add new clothes and accessories to make your existing wardrobe look both different and updated.
I always tell my clients to hold on to their favourites, unless of course they begin to look outdated, out of shape or don’t fit them anymore.
(As told to Prince Mathews Thomas)
(This article is excerpted from the latest Forbes India 02 November, 2012 issue which is now available at news stands and book stores. You can buy our tablet version from Magzter.com)