I am loving your blog. I wrote a letter of introduction this week after reading about them. That got me thinking about another strange side of freelancing – the dress code. I am always battling myself over what to wear to interviews and events. Dress up to be professional, dress down for comfort and to appear more casual and approachable? I never know. Do other writers have this problem?
Is this a trick question? Because the obvious answer is, “Wear anything you want to wear.”
When you’re your own boss and you work from home, it doesn’t matter what you wear – yoga pants, your pajamas or the same jeans, T-shirt and sweatshirt you’ve lived in for the past five years – it’s all good. Right?
Wrong. What you wear does matter. If you dress professionally, you’ll feel more professional and you’ll bring that feeling to your work. That’s not just me. That’s straight from Stacy and Clinton sharing the same message in umpteen episodes of TLC’s “What Not to Wear.” Fly Lady says the same thing. Fly Lady is a website that helps people be more efficient and organized. One of Fly Lady’s rules is always wear shoes and socks to work, even if “work” is a desk in your bedroom.
Adopt the same attitude when deciding what to wear to interviews, conferences or other events you attend for work. Wear something that makes you feel confident and professional while still being appropriate for the situation. For me, that might mean wearing a skirt or pants and a jacket if I’m interviewing a executive, or going to an industry conference. If I’m going to a tech meetup where everyone will be in jeans and T-shirts, I’ll wear jeans too, but pair them with a jacket or sweater and boots or heels. If I’m walking the floor of a consumer expo or doing man-on-the-street type interviews, I might go with jeans or other pants and flat shoes, all the better to blend in.
In the end, it depends on the occasion, why you’re there and what makes you comfortable.
Dressing for freelance success doesn’t have to be expensive. If you’re early in your career or a beginning freelancer, you might not have as many options as someone who’s been in the business a dozen years or is coming from a staff writer job that required a work-appropriate wardrobe. But you can still look professional by putting on a sweater or jacket over a T-shirt, wearing pants instead of jeans, and making sure clothes are clean and unwrinkled. If buying new is too expensive, hit up consignment stores or vintage shops – cities like Portland are loaded with them.
I’m sure some people will read this and think, man is she out of it, just wear whatever. To which I say, fine, if that works for you. But for me, knowing that I look good is a huge confidence boost.
What about you, when it comes to work, how do you dress to impress?