Your new client has just arrived at the shop and you are introduced for the first time.  You eyes dart from the top of her head to the bottom of her feet as you take mental snapshots and evaluate what ought to be done for this person.  Ironically, your customer is making her own assessment of you, and your professional appearance.

We have always understood that you only get one chance to make a first impression.  And as a professional stylist, what you wear and how you look is a vital but often forgotten factor in building your business.

Before deciding what your salon attire will look like, take some time to write down what you want to be known for and how you want people to think of you as a stylist.  Will you be doing innovative hair design, new age cuts, or styles straight from magazine fashion pages?

Think about your skills, your clientele, your community, and your potential customers.  Maybe the reality is that in your small town, most of the cuts and curling are conservative, prescription-like services that can only be described as ordinary.  There is nothing wrong with ordinary.  Thousands of stylists have made millions of dollars by specializing in ordinary.

In any case, your salon "appearance" should reflect the customer profile that you are attempting to attract to your salon.  Conservative customers should see you in conservative attire.  Edgy fashion clients should expect your work clothes to be fashionable, sleek, or maybe even funky.

What about uniforms, where stylists in the same salon wear a version of the same outfit?  Sure, that can work if the salon owner is attempting to create a branded image for the salon, rather than highlighting individual personalities.  Smart owners will give their stylists a long-leash however, and let them be themselves.  That way, a customer can choose under one roof, any beautician that matches her personality and needs.

Create a wardrobe that is for work and one that is just for after hours.  That way you can purchase clothing with fabrics that suits themselves to your wacky work environment.  Stains need to be washed out, hair is magnetically attracted to many fabrics, and certain colors of clothes make your salon life miserable.  Be smart about what you purchase so that you don’t end up throwing money down the drain.

So as you build your image, be sure to match your clothing styles to the customers you are hoping to serve.  Don’t wear anything that doesn’t represent your best self and personality.  Plan what you are going to wear rather than throwing something on at the last minute.  Everyday people evaluate you as a professional or non-professional.  With the right clothing you have a chance to constantly shine.

Logan is founder of Donna Bella Milan hair extensions and lashes and author of the Donna Bella weblog.