As a freelancer, I’ve been unexpectedly vexed by fashion. Ironic, no? Wearing pajamas to work is one of the prime ways that we self-employed types revel in our freedom. Yet getting all dolled up is an exercise in self-expression, not to mention self-respect. Besides, just because no one sees you all day, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look fabulous.
When I open my closet each day, I either pick something so “comfortable” (read: slovenly) that I won’t leave the house, or something so sleek that I have to change clothes just to load the dishwasher. This pattern, I’ve decided, is unacceptable.
I’m tempted to follow the lead of a former coworker, who rid herself of wardrobe woes by establishing a uniform and wearing white button-down shirts and blue jeans every single day. Practical, right?
Instead, I’m challenging myself a bit. I want to figure out how to stay relaxed and well-dressed, without spending all my precious paychecks in the process. That way, when a client calls for a last-minute meeting, or I meet someone in the grocery store who happens to need an editor, I won’t look like I just rolled out of bed.
So come … let’s put some clothes on.
My decision to quit my job and travel required that I actually buy some casual clothing, as opposed to damnable pantyhose or whatever that I’d been wearing before. For my trip, I gleefully purchased flowy linen pants, colorful cotton cardigans, and (best of all) my first-ever pair of Converse All-Stars (brown with tiny pink polka dots). Swear to God, I felt like a different person in those Chucks—a person who no longer even owned pantyhose.
Now all that stuff is worn-out and sitting in my closet next to all of the wild range of skirts and scarves and blouses from my previous day job. There’s a huge style gap dividing it all. Somehow, from these disparate items, I have to a) devise some workable outfits and b) shop for a few inexpensive, well-chosen items that will bridge the style gap.
The criteria go something like this:
- Well-made: Why put my hard-earned money into something that’s going to fall apart?
- Versatile: I’m a writer. Can I afford a two hundred dollar sweater that only matches one pair of jeans?
- Comfortable: Isn’t comfort half the point of freelancing?
- Expressive: I have a brand to promote, and that brand is me. Every time I get dressed, I have an opportunity to express that.
To kick off my fashion revolution, I picked up copies of glossy fashion magazines (guilt-free, as I’ll write these off on my taxes and use the mags to research new freelance writing markets). Then I made a long list of things I need, which I’ll edit way down as I take the next step–which is to go through the catalogs and websites of all my favorite vendors. By the time I finish the list-making and do the math, I’ll know I’m spending my money in the best possible way.
This process worked perfectly last year when I was working hard and didn’t have much time to shop. Now I have the time, but not necessarily the money. So I have to be extra thrifty and find some really good deals. I have resources to gather before I score some quality threads. So wish me luck … and send along any great tips you might have!