This blog never wanted to be a merely fashion-related outlet to world – yet, fashion is so intrinsically intertwined with style and life (and ultimately, public relations) that I resolved that from time to time we may as well dedicate a space to it. So, here it goes: looking the part. Looking the part is still – despite all efforts to debunk it – a main component of our society. It’s wrong, it’s right,… well, I believe it’s normal. The visual element in our lives is so prominent that we cannot deny that pleasing the eye still is an important thing. Without going to the excess of being obsessed with one’s appearance – and god forbid, I am not a supporter of stereotyped beauty or surgery unless strictly necessary for health reasons. The relevance of first impressions: it’s something that we wish we could overlook but hey, especially in public workplaces like information desks, retail stores, institutions… and also freelancing they do matter. I mean, if you wish to be remembered, one way is to skip showering in the morning or never use a comb – 100% remembered! – or try and make an effort, not for others only but for you.
First impressions may shape the way you perceive a person – you may be wrong, of course. But as a good exercise, try and imagine how you’d want to be seen by others and how they may actually see you. Think about adjectives that represent you – and then test people you know, to see if they match the image you think you’re projecting. Do their expectations match? It can be a ruthless practice, but it’s proved to help. Also, it has been proved that especially freelancers working from a home-based office are more productive if they get out of their pyjamas: when you work in an office, you get up, get dressed and leave the house. As you commute on the underground, or catch a bus, or even walk if you’re close enough to be able to do it, you create a transition from your home-y, comfy life into your work, ‘now-focus’ life. Arriving at your office means ‘Time to work.’
When you work from home, you need to create a similar transition, otherwise a loop will kick off… cat videos, hanging out feeling sleepy, and eventually, procrastination begins. I have to clarify that I am a firm believer in that my productivity is not affected by BEING in the house (even though some may prefer coworking). I get physically very tired by going out and commuting and I’m definitely not a morning person. Hence, my life as a home-based freelancer – despite getting my share of travelling as my interpreting ‘alias’ – is perfectly fine. Yet, if I get dressed or even just put make up on, I feel better and into the (work) zone.
Of course, first of all you need to identify the setting – esp. if you’re working or going to a networking gig of that specific event:
- Office – Casual or formal?
- Event – Time is key
- Conference – Is there a dress code? What is the audience?
- Gala – Does your country impose long dresses or suits?
- Dinner – Standing? Seated?
Never underestimate the time of the day AND the weather.
Especially in the UK! Going overdressed or underdressed to an event is followed in shame just by going too summery when it’s clearly not that hot and care-free anymore; or too wintery to an event at 30 C° even if the seasons says so on the calendar. My choices are normally combos that I can dress up or down, but it all starts from the shoes. Shoes can really determine if an outfit is casual or smart-elegant. Flats can make a skirt prudish or simply more formal – but if they’re very sporty, they give it a different twist. With denim though, they can acquire a different flair. The same LBD with booties is smart-casual but with heels it becomes office-suitable. Jackets & Blazers can turn a shirt or even a tee into a more formal, I-mean-business kind of attire, but in a minute you can take it off and go back to your relaxed self. Bags are also key: small, purse-like bags are ideal for dinners and evening events – esp. if serious or black; yet, a tan shade can also be used during daytime. Certainly, a big, briefcase-y style bag is more suitable for the daytime and it normally does not transition too well into the evening – if black tough, it can be acceptable too. Some of my favourite outfits are simple – more and more black or total white. Yet, I like to accessorize (statement jewellery FTW!) and also to use contrasting fabrics to make my look more diverse and versatile, with a twist of modernity.