Dress for the part

April 1, 2000
Jeanette Pine
Pharmaceutical Representative

Fashion rules for reps.

While it may seem trivial to even discuss a topic such as how to dress for the job, I have shared this experience with enough other reps to know that it is important. You may not increase market share by wearing appropriate outdoor clothing, but you will always perform more effectively if you are comfortable. Here are a few observations and suggestions for those formerly tethered to climate-controlled places.

1. Avoid long outdoor wear at all costs. This includes winter coats as well as raincoats. Stick to lengths from just above the knee to the hip.

2. Because we work outdoors and are constantly on the move, consider underdressing for the weather. If you wear a big heavy coat, you will be sweating in no time. The rest of the day will be spent taking your coat off, throwing it on the back seat, getting out of the car and grabbing your coat to put on again. This is a waste of energy and time.

3. Don't wear wool on a rainy day. If it gets wet, you will not only be itchy, but you'll smell like something the cat dragged in.

4. Put your keys in the same place every single time you get out of the car. This may be your coat pocket, suit pocket, your sales bag or your briefcase. Be consistent so you don't go crazy trying to find them 10 times a day. (This is especially true if you choose to not follow rule #2. No sooner will you throw your coat on the back seat and jump in the car than you'll realize your keys are in the pocket.)

5. Wear low shoes. Not only will your feet and back thank you, you won't look like a fool trying to balance all the stuff that we tote.

6. Wear a hat. Hats can be stylish and they prevent your head from getting wet and cold when it rains or snows. And don't worry about "hat hair." If the weather is bad enough, it will wreak havoc with your hair anyway.

7. Don't carry an umbrella when it is raining. You will wind up trying to hold your umbrella under your chin as you attempt to grab samples from your trunk precisely when a strong wind will decide to rip the umbrella from you. Follow rule #6, and you won't need an umbrella anyway.

8. Be comfortable, but use common sense. For example, don't wear sneakers, jeans, shorts or any other garment that will detract from your message. This includes revealing blouses, flashy jewelry and very tight skirts, dresses and pants. (Sounds obvious, huh? You wouldn't believe what I have seen out here!) We are, above all else, medical professionals who are highly skilled and trained to impart the latest marketplace information. A rule of thumb to consider is to avoid anything you think Madonna or Cher might wear.

9. For exceptionally rainy or snowy weather, do what your mom always said – wear your galoshes or boots! There's no sense in ruining an expensive pair of leather shoes. Carry your shoes and change once you get inside the office or hospital if you prefer.

10. Don't wear a lot of aftershave or perfume. Certain odors have been known to trigger an asthma attack.

11. Finally, always wear a smile. The more you wear your smile the better you will feel! PR