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In the new tree-hugging age of financial advising, the term “suit” has taken on a derogatory meaning (e.g. “Since our IPO there’s been a suit in my office every day trying to sell me an annuity.”) Should advisors wear a business suit to meet with prospects or are less formal options a better choice?

Not always suitable

There are a few situations when it is clearly better to wear a suit, and I’ll address those in a minute. The decision to wear a suit depends upon the personal brand you want to convey – and how it is likely to be perceived by the prospect you are meeting.

I haven’t consistently worn a suit in years. Given I’ve been pregnant or nursing since October of 2013 (I had four kids in five years), over the last six years I’ve gone through every size imaginable. There was one pregnancy after which I had a hard time losing the weight. This is Antonio’s mother’s fault for continuing to cook me arroz con gandules. For those of you who are familiar with Puerto Rican cuisine, you know that the rice gets you every time.

Fast forward to one day before a big meeting and there I am staring into the mirror feeling like the Pillsbury Doughboy.

You know what happened next. I had a meltdown and called my mother.

Hours later I emerged from the A train at Times Square station, looking “fly” with a black a-line skirt and green silk blouse. Since then I’ve been a suit-less wonder like Lori Greiner. Without a suit, people are not as standoffish and more relaxed in meetings. With my more casual clothing I come across as more relatable. I’ve certainly enjoyed having a wider variety of outfits from which to choose.

My approach is to go without a suit unless it is warranted – and there are certain situations where it is.