When I decided to take voluntary redundancy and go freelance, I wondered, what do you wear when you work at home? Do you get up and put work clothes on, or do you just wear jeans and hoodies?
I asked two friends who work from home and got two different responses. One said you have to put work clothes on in the morning, so you’re in the right frame of mind to work. The other said I’d better invest in some more jeans and hoodies. There are no prizes for guessing which option I took.
But there are times when I’ll get out in the big, wide world and meet clients (although all of my work to date has been over the phone and email) and I will need to look the part. But what is ‘the part’?
I worked in a council for 15 years. It’s pretty much universally accepted that people in councils are scruffy. There is no need to look groomed and immaculate and business-like when you work in a council. Which is good, because I am none of those things. I wasn’t the scruffiest at the council, but I was far from the smartest.
I used to buy a pair of trousers, three tops (because I worked three days a week) and two cardigans and that would be my capsule wardrobe which could last years (if they came from Next). I didn’t care about my appearance at work. To be honest, I don’t care about it out of work either. I care about it to the extent that the hoodies are Superdry. Beyond that, I’m really not bothered.
My latest incarnation was hipster meets Joules mum. When the Joules mum can’t afford to buy Joules, so she buys Joules imitation from Sainsburys. Yes, my entire working wardrobe was from Sainsburys. And I loved it for the first few months, but then it started to fade, and I wondered if it looked less edgy (from a council point of view) and more like I had no idea what was fashionable or what suited me.
Edgy! That’s the word! I want to be edgy.
I’m free now. I’m not bound by any rules and regulations. My line of work is a creative one, so I can dress a bit creatively, can’t I?
To date, I have bought one outfit. I have harems, which I love. They are comfy and cool and a flattering shape for someone who is skinny, but has muscular thighs (I’m a size 8, but I can’t actually wear skinny jeans). I don’t usually wear black, I prefer colour, but I have a simple black top and a black long cardigan. I have some smart, but quirky (possibly even edgy?!) shoes – grey patent brogues with the edges missing. I have a mint green handbag for a ‘pop’ of colour (I learned that phrase from the fashion pages of heat magazine – I’m aware it’s a really crappy phrase). And that’s me done. A working wardrobe. Not quite as edgy as I’d like (in my head I was in loose-fitting, but flattering black all over, but with a pair of BRIGHT pink or green trainers), but it’s a start. I can’t go putting potential clients off with my appearance and, as my husband would no doubt remind me, I am 40, not 22.
Now if I could just meet all my potential clients and clients once only, and only meet the same people at networking events once only, I’d be fine. But I’m guessing one outfit isn’t really enough?