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Do you know what to wear at work?

I recently found my self-spoon feeding both my daughter and my mother on the same day. At seven, thankfully my daughter’s actually past this stage but I was picking the bits out of yoghurt for her and making it fun by referring back to her baby days. It got me thinking about my role in life and pondering how our roles can change so dramatically and sometimes unexpectedly quickly.
So now here you are! Self-employed! You’ve started your own business. It sounds so dynamic and exciting but many of us know that it’s also one of the scariest role changes in life, even though we’ve made the decision and decided to take the plunge ourselves. You will no doubt have many roles in your new business and If you have employees/colleagues then you’ll probably gain a little more respect by looking like you know what doing in the clothing department!

So how should you present yourself in your business?

What we wear is important to us whether we admit it or not. There are enthusiasts and there are those who brush off any mere suggestion that fashion matters but from such an early age our clothes become a part of how we are seen and perceived, and indeed the way we feel. Even the stereotypical chap who lets his wife buy his shirts will be passionately offended at a certain colour or style. “I wouldn’t be seen dead in that”. There’s passion there for sure! He certainly knows what he doesn’t want to be seen in.
It’s widely accepted and expected that you’ll wear a suit if you’re in accounts and that you’ll be in overalls and a fleece if your landscaping a garden. We are so identifiable in the industry by what we choose to wear and it helps us to feel ‘right’ and accepted in our work. Ok, it’s maybe more obviously a functional aspect when you’re working outdoors in need of warmth, but I’ve seen some pretty snazzy overalls in my life… maybe yours are an unusual colour so that your business stands out? (not thinking Rod, Jane & Freddie or anything!). Whatever your ‘uniform’ though, the fit is so important. Fit, fit fit! It’s what flatters your shape or allows you comfort so make sure you choose carefully. The best outfit in the world will look terrible if it looks borrowed!

Working from home

Working from home, I could easily wear sweats but you might also imagine that, as someone trained in fashion design, I’d be a little more adventurous! The illustration above is how I am in my head… in a dream world of sunny Italian business lunches. The reality is that I choose to be smart and comfortable even if no one will see me that day. This is important to me because it makes me feel professional so that when that phone rings, I feel sharp and confident. For client-facing meetings, I might go for something a little more upbeat and shoes that can be tolerated for that short time!

Top Tip

As far as those in a classic office environment goes… if I could help with a top tip?
Ladies: invest in some great buff coloured shoes! Heels or flats, this colour will go with just about anything and looks classy. If you want your legs to appear elongated, you could also match your shoes to your bottom half!
Gents: Same idea but get some mid tan smart shoes/brogues as these will complement black, navy or grey very well (and even a light beige linen suit if you’re that way inclined!).

Most of all, though, be comfortable and good luck with your venture!
Happy dressing.

Gill Wright

Gill Wright Illustrations