Let’s face it, it’s not secret that for all of you “creative minds” or lucky ones who get to work from home that 99% of the time you’re working in your PJs. When it comes time to meet with a client or your supervisor, it can be tricky to find the perfect outfit when you no longer own “work clothes”. Before I was laid off during the recession about three years ago, I was part of “Corporate America” as well. I worked for a non-profit for about 6 years and then for a Public Relations firm. Though my work clothes for both industries were very different, they don’t compare to my work clothes now.
When I worked in the non-profit world, my work clothes consisted of a lot of suits, dresses, pants and button downs. It was a very conservative atmosphere. Though, I had days that I wouldn’t leave my office, my attire was more casual; jeans and a button-down would work. If I had a meeting with corporate VPs or was meeting someone at the office, I dressed up to fit in with Corporate America. Suits, blazers and button-downs were my dress code. This left very little of my personality to show, but since I wasn’t in a creative field, it was what it was. Then when I started working for a PR firm, I had more ability to dress a bit creatively. My personality was allowed to show, colors were back in my wardrobe. But again, I dealt a lot with Corporate America when we met with clients, so suits were still a part of my repertoire, but I added funky jewelry and brighter under shirts.
Being laid off felt like a curse at the moment. Now, three years later, I realized it only pushed me to follow what my dream always was – to write. Though during both of those jobs I always freelanced a bit on the side, I never had the time or freedom to pursue it full-time. Right now, I’m writing for a few publications and a store’s website. I rarely leave my house and it’s still not quite to full-time status, but I’m happy. I must admit, my work clothes now consists of yoga pants and tank tops and I get to write from the comfort of my home office (a desk in my bedroom), the couch, the patio, the coffee shop, or wherever my heart desires that week. If I leave my house to write, I can pretty much throw on whatever I’d like because no one knows I’m working. Though many days I work past 9-5, I’m not limited by the restrictions of a 9-5.
However, when I’m meeting an editor or a possible new client, or even out doing interviews, I have to dress the part. I’ve realized that this has been a tricky segway since my old work clothes don’t fit in with my new life. Many have been long gone and donated to charity; I view it as my way of not allowing any reminder that I can conform back to Corporate America. I’m lucky enough that a blouse and fitted jeans with heels equals proper attire for my Editor and even allows for compliments when I’m out interviewing – especially when it’s a fashion piece. I’ve compiled a few pieces of inspirations for the rest of you who might be in similar situations. Since the economy crash, many have taken the work from home path and followed their passions, whether it’s writing like mine, or photography, or whatever else gives you the freedom to be the Chief of your destiny.
Dressing professionally, while still allowing your personality and comfort shine through is definitely one of the small perks. Jeans go a long way as long as they’re fitted and not skin tight. When paired with a loose blouse or dressy tank under a blazer, you will look like you’re ready to rule the world. For more casual meetings, you can pull off ripped jeans, as long as the rest is kept professional and put together. I now own jeans in a rainbow of color choices, which gives me plenty of options on any given day. Allow your blazers to be fun. Choose a hue you usually wouldn’t have or something with a print like florals or stripes. At first you might think you won’t get much use out of a blazer that doesn’t blend in as easily as one in navy or black, but after you start to feel comfortable in a print, you’ll realize they can go with more than you think. It might even double as a great conversation piece during more difficult meetings. A casual dress that you can just throw and doesn’t look too rigid or like it took you hours to get dressed is another option for the warmer days when jeans will only make you suffer in the heat. One other look that I’m dying to try, but not sure how it’ll be accepted, are tailored shorts at an appropriate length (which should be about a hand width or so above the knee), paired with a blazer. This can be a laid back option to the rigid corporate suit. It gives you the freedom to feel relaxed and fun, while still wearing a suit. Just make sure your heels aren’t too high and the rest of your look is polished.
The one accessory that makes just about any outfit look like you’re ready for work and put together is a large, structured bag. For me, I can’t survive a meeting without it. My bags are always big enough to fit my usual trinkets like wallet, makeup bag, brush and my meeting essentials like pens, notebooks (yes more than one many times), iPad and a file folder for any clips or articles my Editor hands me for review or follow-up.
For those of you who also work from home – what’s your go-to style for when you actually have to dress up for work? How did your style change from when you were at a 9-5 job? What tips do you have for other work from home ladies on steals and deals for trendy pieces?
Here are a few more pieces of fashion inspiration … which one would you choose?