The infamous coffee meeting. Grabbing a cup of coffee with a potential employer or professional contact seems simple enough until you realize that you have no idea what to wear for a coffee meeting. This can seem even more bewildering when you’re meeting on the weekend. How casual or formal should you go?
Take note of the meeting time
The meeting time will make a big difference on what you should wear. If you’re meeting during the workday, you’ll obviously just wear what you wore to work that morning. With that in mind, make sure that even if you work in a super casual environment, you still look put together.
When meeting on the weekend, the rules are more flexible, and you can be much more casual. Still on the same note as working in a casual environment, you never want to look like you just rolled out of bed.
If you’re meeting with a potential employer or a professional contact that might be able to give you some insight or connect you with a potential job opportunity, follow their example of clothing. If the person you’re meeting often dresses up or works in a more formal working environment, take cues from them and dress a bit more formally even if you work in a very casual environment or are meeting on the weekend.
This doesn’t mean that you should come in a full suit, but if you’re someone who often dresses very casually, grab a blazer to put over your t-shirt and jeans, or opt for a casual button down shirt. There’s no need to dress super formal for a coffee meeting if that isn’t your standard attire, however you should look respectable and show your coffee date that you put in effort.
A good rule of thumb
If you often dress very casually, start with how you would normally dress and take it one notch more formal. That means adding on a jacket, blazer, a button down, or something to make you look a bit more put together.
If you often dress very formal, stick with how you usually dress. No need to dress down from what you would wear to any other outing. If you wear a suit to work and you’re meeting mid-day during the week, you won’t be changing your outfit. If you’re meeting on the weekend and you still tend to dress on the more formal side, just stick with what you know.
A study completed at Yale in 2014 used 128 men between the ages of 18 and 32 to test the effect that clothing had on sales. Those dressed poorly (in sweatpants and plastic sandals) averaged a theoretical profit of $680,000, while the group dressed in suits amassed an average profit of $2.1 million. The group dressed neutrally averaged a $1.58 million profit.
The bottom line is that even if you’re just meeting for coffee, you should still look professional. Colored denim is a great way to go. It’s comfortable and is a step up from regular denim.
Wrinkles are the enemy
Coffee dates are casual, but there’s nothing worse than a wrinkled outfit. The most expensive and formal clothing immediately looks horrid when covered in wrinkles. On the flip side, a simple t-shirt and jeans look much more put together when clean and pressed.
If you don’t like to iron, (I hate to iron) get yourself a little steamer. Coming in wrinkle-free clothing is an easy way to ensure that you don’t look like you rolled out of bed.
When you’re deciding what to wear for a coffee meeting, remember three main things:
- Start based on what time of day/week you’re meeting
- You always want to look polished and put together
- Take cues from the person who will be helping you further your career