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The self-employed dress code

Wednesday, 11 July 2012 | By Linnet Hunter

Back in the BOD (bad old days) when I had a job, two things were certain: The pay packet and the dress code.


A redundancy fixed the idea of the certainty of just about anything, but I miss the surety of knowing what to wear.


Three years in the home office didn’t help. The suit was OTT, the trackies BTB (below the belt – although that could have been a weight problem) and the classic ethnic-nomadic style I don to give presentations seemed pretentious when no one could see me.


Moving to using a collaborative space part-time caused yet another wardrobe crisis: All styles were acceptable, and no one minded or maybe even noticed.


But the day I decided grunge was good enough a bevy of fashion bloggers held their get-together in our space and flew in like a flock of bright parrots. I felt worse than dowdy; I felt invisible.


And how you feel is actually the point of all these ramblings. How I dress affects how I feel which, in turn, affects how productive I am, how I speak on the phone, and even the price I quote.


Dressing for work is not the whole picture by any means, but it is one element of your work-alone life that is within your control and that you can define around your needs with an eye to making an impression when necessary.


Although it may sound a bit weird, creating your own dress code is part of being the leader of the business even when there is only one worker, and it affects how others relate to you.


Like other techniques you may have for making a work ‘space’ at home, dressing for the part, and not answering the phone in your jimjams is an element of setting a professional tone and standard that may be required in the future. Set the habit now.


Get dressed every morning before you start.


So this is not about wearing a three-piece suit to write a marketing letter, but with feeling free to go with it if it helps your writing style.


It is about being comfortable (but not comfy) and, at the same time, ready to answer the door, head off to a sudden meeting, or deal with whatever pops up next.


It’s about finding your style and also matching your wardrobe to a variety of requirements such as client meetings, freelance interviews, networking events or professional organisation get-togethers.


Shop strategically with an eye to your requirements so you can mix and match; especially when starting out, finances may not allow for a huge range.


However, giving some thought to what makes you feel productive, professional, on top of things and ready for the next challenge will be an excellent guide to dressing for your kind of success.


As for me, I am still flirting with the idea of scarves as an answer for all occasions.