Pitch Perfect: What To Wear To Win The Deal

May 29, 2013

Pitch Perfect: What To Wear To Win The Deal | CorporateFashionista.com

Have you heard of Oren Klaff?

He is best known for his expertise in raising capital, selling companies and closing complex deals. A turning point for Oren’s pitching success came when he began studying neuroeconomics which combines neuroscience, economics, and psychology to study how people make decisions.

Oren even wrote a book about his lessons, Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading and Winning the Deal. It’s a smart read.

Basically, we’ve all got to make a pitch at some point. If you want something, then you must pitch. Oren says, “Pitching is packaging an idea and getting people to listen to what it is you have to say”.

In his S.T.R.O.N.G. pitching method, Oren reveals it’s all about getting attention and appealing to your audience’s or buyer’s crocodile brain (aka. croc brain) – the primal, fight or flight, instinctual part of the brain. Since the croc brain has limited focus and capacity, you must quickly strive to create an emotional reaction with the person or people you’re pitching. And visuals play a key role at triggering emotions.

“Aha!” I exclaimed. In addition to your pitching presentation materials, why not give yourself every advantage and apply these same principals to your professional pitching attire?

It’s a given you should dress professionally appropriate for your pitch audience no matter if it’s in-person or via video conferencing. But you already know that!

If you’re looking for some key areas to pay special attention to that will make the most impact on your audience and have the biggest payoffs then I’ve got solutions.

It’s really very simple.

The two most important style features when delivering pitches that will grab and maintain your audience’s attention, plus stir emotions (and win them over!) are fit and color.

Your audience’s reaction to the fit and the color of your pitch outfit is primal. This directly ties into Oren’s croc brain theory.


If you’re pitching an idea or making a request, etcetera, it’s obviously important to you and proper fit reflects this. It immediately signals to your audience that you take this meeting very seriously and, therefore, they should too. You’re sending them a visual cue that will trigger their emotions. Well-fitted garments also imply your message will be succinct, well organized and that you are on top of your game.

I recommend wearing a sleeved jacket, blouse or dress with fitted shoulder seams that rest directly at the tips of your shoulders. Do not wear sleeveless options and omit wearing cardigan sweaters during your pitch.

If you choose to wear a suit jacket, make sure sleeves are finished no longer than at the center of the meaty part of your thumb and no shorter than at your wristbone. If your blouse has buttons, make sure there is no gaping. If you wear a dress, go for a fitted sheath style. If that style doesn’t look best on your body type, then select the next best thing. Your goal is a fuss-free, contemporary look.


Color is convincing. It’s visually stimulating and it too triggers emotions – both good and bad. You can’t control whether your audience will have a positive or negative association with a particular color, but what you can control is using the powers of color to your best advantage by making sure the color you wear when pitching is flattering on you. A color that enhances your natural beauty will captivate your audience and outweigh any biases.

This is especially true if you’re wearing a color that they actually don’t like (or think they don’t like). For example, if you decide to wear the color yellow during your pitch, and it’s a yellow hue that looks spectacular with your skin tone, but one or more of your audience members just doesn’t like the color yellow, then just by wearing it you will have grabbed their attention.

But wait! There’s more.

They become intrigued and surprised, because they thought they didn’t like the color yellow, yet you look so good in it. They cannot deny you light up the room in that color. Ultimately, you end up opening their minds to the possibilities of yellow. Now, they’re curious and will pay even closer attention to what you are saying in your pitch to see if you’ve got anything else up your sleeve that will surprise them!

Oren insists intrigue is good for pitching and I know wearing the right color can help you do just that.

I believe you can wear any color; you just need to find the best hues that look good on you. Your best colors will enliven your skin tone allowing your facial features to stand out, making you appear happy and confident. Avoid those colors that make your skin tone appear sallow and depleted.

Good news! These emotional audience reactions to what you’re wearing occur instantly. All you have to do is simply pay particular attention to your best fit and opt for flattering colors in your pitch perfect outfit. Couple these style tips with Oren’s S.T.R.O.N.G. methods and you’re certain to win your next deal!

What are your thoughts on dressing for success during a pitch? Have you noticed a visceral impact on your audience? If so, what do you think was most effective?

Image credit: Hallie Daily. Graphics by Kristina Moore for Corporate Fashionista.

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  • Anna Runyan

    Look like a good read! Will definitely check Oren’s book.

  • Hannah Marr

    very interesting article!


  • joanheminway

    Nice post. I might add that clothing should be in good condition and repair. It’s a real turnoff to see a smart person making a pitch who has a seam that is torn or frayed cuffs on a shirt or jacket. Yucky! That kind of attention is the kind you do not want when trying to persuade . . . .

  • Tall Clothing Mall

    I love this. I have overdressed at times when I have had important meeting.

  • Madalin

    Fantastic read! My sister and I have recently started up our own web store catering for the professional working woman – http://www.masse.com.au Please check it out and let me know your thoughts, we love your blog!