How to Dress Like a Creative Pro and Nail Personal Style at the Same Time

Even if you're a regular blog reader, you might not know this: I absolutely love teaching at Stephens College, where I've been teaching graphic design for years now. It constantly pushes me to stay on top of design trends, technology and of course it's a joy getting to see so many students engaging with design.

However, I've been surprised time and time again by the fashion choices my students make for presentations!

I know that might seem like a weird thing to be surprised by as a professor, but hear me out on this one guys.

Working in a creative field like graphic design, your job is to marry your strong design style to your clients' needs – but you have to sell it first! And before you even get that far, you have to sell yourself to the client in the first place. 

As "Creatives" (proper noun style) we HAVE to convey polished, professional, and unexpected right from the get-go. If we're trying to sell visual communication to a client, they have to believe that we know strategy as well as trend.

Pleated pants and a polo say "Don't worry client! I totally know what the kidz like these days!" 😓Aka, a huge turn-off to clients.

My students don't seem to understand what a huge effect their personal style choices have on clients' perception, but it is so important – especially when you're released into the "real world" of design, where your livelihood depends on landing clients and delivering results, rather than completing school assignments with a clear rubric.

If I could give them four quick tips to please, please, please follow when pulling together an outfit it would be to stop and ask a few questions:

1. "Is what I'm wearing about halfway across the casual v. dressy scale?"

Over doing it can be almost as bad as under doing it.

I question your confidence and judgement when you arrive to a pitch wearing a three-piece suit. You want to show that you're professional, but also cool, calm and collected. A three-piece suit is total overkill on that!

And if walking that line in your personal style choices means needing someone walk you through the purchasing process, then by all means do take a friend for a second opinion! Or just ask the friendly salesperson! Stitch Fix is another great way to spice up that wardrobe with the help of a real stylist, and delivery straight to your door.

2. "Do I look like about to kill a biz pitch? Or do I look like I'm about to kill it at penny pitchers?"

🚩Red flag!

 Killin' it bar hog style.

Killin' it bar hog style.

Attention young creatives: It is imperative that you do not look like a bar hog when presenting design concepts.

No one wants to feel like they're buying a full-scale professional marketing strategy from the youngster who wrapped up this presentation at 5:30am after partying the night before.

3. "Is this combination a reflection of my unique personal style?"

This is challenging, I know. It's part of that same "Creative" noun buzz: you need to show that you're an expert at nailing personal style. You want to show clients that you're unique, unexpected, but most importantly that you're you. Check out my post from a few weeks ago where I explain the importance of personal style here!

4. Is this flattering? Am I comfortable in it?

Because everyone presents better when they feel like they look GOOOOD. 💁

Now here's your pro tip!

I find it extremely helpful to create some Pinterest boards for aspirational style. 

Curating these collections is great for gathering inspiration and for honing in on your personal taste. There are SO many options out there in fashion that a visual representation of looks that are put-together, creative and professional is extremely valuable when trying to build your creative pro wardrobe!

I'm including some of my personal faves below – enjoy!

1. Dress like a Creative Pro

We curate this board right here at Hoot Design Co. to assemble a visual style board of on-target inspiration. As you can see, it's a group board including Hoot collaborators – 7 people total! 

The best thing about this board is that we all pin with a personal take on our favorite creative pro styles, so it's a great representation of a wider variety of looks – preppy, artsy, laid-back cool, and more – that all fit under the creative pro umbrella. Come give it a look and a follow!

2. My Style Pinboard (Mallory Fitzsimmons)

This one's from Mallory Fitzsimmons, one of my FAVORITE fashion bloggers. Her board is a great representation of a strong individual sense of style that is perfectly professional and creative-cool at the same time. Check out her board here, and have a look at her blog and Intstagram for more style advice too!

3. Get in My Closet (Anna Martin)

You know Anna from her weekly collaborations to the HDco blog!

Anna has her style on lockdown, and this board is a fantastic representation of her personal fashion sense. She's a pro at putting together timeless looks that are on-trend and infused with personal taste. Definitely go give it a follow!

4. {stylin} (Margo & Me)

This great board is curated by Jenny Bernheim of Margo & Me, another fashion blog I love. Finding on-target accessories can be tough, but Jenny has an awesome collection of resources compiled here!

Now get out there and rock your creative pro looks!

Love KGB.

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