Dress to Impress… From the Waist Up

Dress to Impress… From the Waist Up

This summer I had the opportunity to work at Matter Family Office as their first MBA intern. Matter is a multi-family office that goes beyond traditional wealth management and provides a holistic, family office service for the roughly 200 families they serve. Matter takes a purpose-driven approach that combines a family’s goals and values with Matter’s technical excellence. The internship was perfect for me, because after Booth, I’m planning on joining my family’s business, particularly our family office.

While I had many projects during my internship that ranged from quantitative to highly strategic, the one that particularly stuck out (and that I still reference to my fellow work-from-home friends) is related to staying professional, approachable, and trendy via the countless video conferencing meetings: An Office-wear Guide for Our New Normal. This guide is particularly helpful for a company like Matter because so much of their business requires developing a personal connection with their clients, ensuring they feel safe and comfortable in sharing their wealth and personal details. How can Matter employees maintain that personal connection even when they are thousands of miles away?

If you haven’t yet, I highly recommend reading the New York Times article – Zoom Shirt. It’s a witty, yet eerily accurate representation of how we’re dressing to impress… from the waist up. The article describes how business professionals are dressing hyper casual, only to put on their arm’s-length-away formal shirt for their video call starting in two minutes.

Pulling information from this article and many others that have since been written on the topic, I came up with 10 tips and tricks to help Matter employees remain connected with video conference attendees, and I’ve adjusted them to help you make a great first impression – whether in a virtual class or during an MBA interview.

  1. If you use Zoom and haven’t done this already, you need to turn on “touch up my appearance.” This Zoom setting gives you a fresh glow, even if you only got a few hours of sleep. Settings > Video Settings > “Touch up my appearance”
  2. Adjust your screen to focus on your face and consider shirts with higher necklines (or buttoning additional buttons). Your computer is lower than an in-person conversation, which requires some thought about your camera’s focal point.
  3. Position yourself so you’re facing the light. This will give your participants the best view of your face. Since we know we’ll be virtual for at least the next few months, you may want to consider buying a ring light for your computer. The light will highlight your face and, for as little as $15, will make you look like you’re in a professional studio.
  4. Find colors that compliment your skin tone; you don’t want to appear as a floating head on the screen or washed out by the light.
  5. Try to fashion a standing desk with your at-home setup by placing books under your laptop or desktop. Alternating between sitting and standing will get the blood flowing and also prevent you from multi-tasking during class or an interview.
  6. Think about choosing 3-4 shirts that you can rotate through for your interviews or class. Pick shirts that range in formality so you can quickly pick the best option for the type of video call you are having.
  7. For your 3-4 “Zoom Shirts” choose high durability fabrics (cotton, microfiber, linen, etc.) so they won’t wear down from additional washing.
  8. For one-on-one interviews, practice mirroring to better connect with the interviewer and to make the conversation feel more natural.
  9. Consider speaking with your hands. This usually improves the eloquence of your verbal language and makes you feel like you’re in the same room as the video conferencing participants.
  10. When all else fails, and as the NYT recommends, keep a go-to shirt on the back of your chair to throw on in a pinch.

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