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What to Wear When You Work from Home

March 31, 2014  |     |   0 Comment

Morning at homeAccording to a 2011 Statistics Canada survey, more that 1 million Canadians work from home.  In 2011, I joined this statistic as I established BloomStra Consulting and created my home office.  It was a big change for me.  For over 20 years, I commuted and worked within a corporate and legal office environment where I dressed in a suit and wore pantyhose most days.

When I started to work from home, many colleagues and friends asked if I would start dressing more casually.  In fact, I was asked a few times if I was looking forward to working in my pajamas all day! While my day-to-day office environment has changed, my attitude toward getting ready for my business day has not.

Having a home office does not make me feel, in any way, that I have less responsibility to present myself in a credible, respectful and professional manner.  The truth of the matter is that my day often includes face-to-face meetings with clients, business development events, or delivering presentations and workshops within the business arena.  And yes, there are some days when I do not have scheduled meetings, but I still  prepare myself in a manner that makes me feel “ready” for business.

I won’t deny that when you work from home the way you dress can be very different from when you work in a corporate office environment.  For many who work from home, there’s a sense that you don’t have dress to impress because no one will see you.  But is that really true?  What if a client contacts you unexpectedly to request a last-minute meeting?  What if a high-value prospect contacts you via FaceTime or Skype?  What if a delivery person shows up at your door?  Will you feel presentable enough to answer it?

Even if you do schedule a day with clear boundaries of “no meetings”, will it really matter what you wear that day?  Does it matter if you stay in your pajamas or yoga pants all day? Will anyone care? I would suggest that it does matter, because YOU will know and YOU should care.  I get dressed each day with a sense of purpose, and the clothing I choose to wear sets the stage for being ready for all that my day has to offer.  When I take the time to put myself together – which includes having a shower, doing my hair and makeup and dressing appropriately for my business day – my productivity, creativity, sense of professionalism, and the way I feel about myself increases.  In turn, my business increases.

So what is an appropriate work-at-home wardrobe? There are key elements which you can incorporate into your wardrobe and daily routine to ensure that, even when you work from home, you continue to exude professionalism, productivity and a positive bottom line.

1.  Hygiene:  For the perfect ‘wake up’ call, shower first thing in the morning.  Brush your teeth. Style your hair.  Put on your makeup. Make sure your clothes are clean, in good repair and not wrinkled.

2.  Wear shoes:  Putting on a pair of shoes can help establish your mindset and preparedness for your work day.  It “finishes” an outfit and takes it up a notch rather than going bare foot, just wearing socks, or flip-flops.

3.  A blazer:  Even if you are wearing jeans, the instant you put on a blazer, your level of credibility rises.  And everyone looks great in a blazer! Choose a blazer in a neutral colour such as black, navy or charcoal gray as they are easy to mix and match with numerous outfits.

4.  A blouse or shirt:  For women, wearing a blouse will add a more professional look to an otherwise casual outfit.  For men, a button-down shirt will do the same.  Wearing a blouse or shirt is more authoritative than a polo shirt, while still being comfortable.

5.  A sweater:  Whether a v-neck or crew-neck pullover, or a cardigan, a sweater adds an additional layer and puts that finishing touch to any outfit.  It is a versatile item because it can be worn with pants, a skirt or a dress. However, be sure it is not stretched out otherwise you will just look sloppy. For women, a sweater dress also works well because it is a piece that combines comfort as well as style – all in one!  Add a pair of tights and knee-high boots to complete the ensemble.

6.  Dressy jeans or pants:  If you wear jeans, invest in a good pair of dark jeans as they have a less casual look than washed out or light blue jeans.  Do not wear jeans with holes in them.  A nice pair of dress pants is always appropriate.  For men, khakis or chinos are a suitable choice.

7.  Accessorize:  It’s easy to upgrade a casual work-at-home outfit by adding additional components such as a scarf or jewelry.  For men, wearing a nice watch can instantly dress up an outfit.

8.  Mix, match and add some colour:  The beauty about having any of the above mentioned items of clothing in your work-at-home wardrobe is that they are easy to mix and match because they are basic or classic pieces.  While comfort may be key, adding colour that allows your personal style to shine through is also important.  Choose colours for your clothes and accessories that best flatter your personal colouring – hair, skin, eyes, blush and lip colour.

Do you currently work from home?  Are you transitioning from a corporate office environment to a home office?  Do you need help evaluating your wardrobe to ensure you are portraying the image you want and the one you want others to have of you?  Are you consistent in how you portray your image?  Not sure?  I would love to work with you!  To schedule a complimentary telephone discovery session, please contact me at ecrotty@bloomstraconsulting.ca.

 


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