What To Wear
When You Work From
What should you wear when you work from
It's a question I'm asked frequently in my image consulting business, and one that
bears thoughtful consideration. For just as your appearance
matters when you report to work in the "outside" world, so,
too, does it matter when your commute is just down the
Now before you snicker at this notion, let's get a bird's
eye view of the matter.
If you work from home, you credibility is suspect. While
more than 90% of the population worked from home prior to the
industrial revolution, people who work from home today are
viewed as less serious than their commuting counterparts. Even
with the number of home-based businesses expanding at an
incredible rate, the question of legitimacy still remains.
So how do you combat this bias? By always being
professional. One of the easiest ways to convey this is by
simply dressing the part.
Of all the home-based businesses I've dealt with in my life,
most of the successful ones understand this basic concept. The
ones who struggle or fail, don't. It's such a simple element --
but one that can have a huge impact on your bottom
line. And I mean huge.
So how should you dress when you work from home? It depends
on two critical factors:
1. Your line of work.
2. Your customer contact.
If you work in a business with little or no customer
contact, such as writing, assembling products, composing music,
running a mail order business, etc., your primary concern
should be comfort. Jeans, shorts, sweats, in drag--if no one
sees you, you can pretty much dress as you please.
But the instant you come into contact with others, you
influence their opinion of you. Even if you're just dropping
off or picking up something or you conduct all of your business
at your front door, how you dress can influence your bottom
line. If you want your business to grow and prosper, you'll
dress to meet your customer's expectations. If you want your
business to remain small and expand at a snail's pace, you
can dress to please yourself.
Here are some basic guidelines:
- If you're a professional, such as a
lawyer, doctor, accountant, business consultant, financial
planner, etc., you need to dress the same as your commuting
counterparts dress in your community. Why? Because people
expect professionals to dress professionally, whether they
engage them at the local office park or at the big yellow
house that faces the park.
You and I both know that your skills don't improve by
simply putting on a suit jacket. But try to negotiate a big
money deal wearing a t-shirt and jeans with your client in
the room, and see how far you get. If the deal falls
through, you'll be blamed for your lack of professionalism.
Why set yourself up like that? Dress like others in your
profession dress-at least when you're meeting with
clients--and save yourself the headache.
- If you're in a
service-oriented business, like hairdressing,
catering, tailoring, personal shopping, etc., dress in
business casual. This includes long
pants and collared shirt, if you're a man, and a skirt,
slacks, or dress, if you're a woman. Business casual
denotes the seriousness of the work environment yet
offers you something comfortable to wear.
- If you're in a
labor-intensive business, like
housekeeping, auto repair, yard maintenance, or handy man,
consider wearing an easy-to-clean uniform. You can buy them
at the local uniform supply company in your town, or you
can create your own by simply pairing work pants (jeans,
khakis) or shorts with a polo shirt or t-shirt. You could
even add a logo to the shirt, if you like, and insist that
everyone in your employ wear them. It's an inexpensive way
to add instant credibility.
So, do you still doubt the importance of dressing appropriately when you work from
home? Stop for a moment and think of all the home-based
businesses you've dealt with over the years. Who got your
business more than once? Who sent you running in the other
The biggest offenders on my list have two things in common:
a filthy workspace, and a complete disregard for personal
appearance. Is my criticism based solely on the fact that I'm
an image consultant? No. It's because as a home-based
entrepreneur myself, I've always taken the time and effort to
make my office and myself presentable before conducting
business. At the very least, I expect others to do the same for
So what should you wear when you work from
home? Clothes that instantly convey your professionalism
and establish your credibility. Your client is already leery
of doing business with you--don't give her another reason to
go elsewhere. Dress appropriately!
Need more help
in deciding if your work at home attire is
appropriate? Grab a copy of Business Wear
author and image consultant Diana
Pemberton-Sikes to discover how to increase
your income by dressing appropriately for
your line of work--even if you work from.
Find it online at
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