By Cathi Nelson
If you are a work from home women like me, it is likely you spend a good part of your day in yoga pants, sneakers, and a comfy sweatshirt. In fact, my partner and I work remotely, and many days we laugh that it is four o’clock and we are still in our pajamas, working away on our computers. We both dread when clients ask us if we want to Skype interview because that requires lipstick, makeup, and styled hair.
As much as I love working from home, I have found that when it is time for me to attend a conference, networking meeting, or business event I suddenly feel insecure about “what am I going to wear.” Gone are the days when I had to choose an outfit each day, now it more like once a month so I am essentially out of practice. Also, I don’t have the time or desire to study the latest fashions trends. I want to focus my time and energy on growing my business, not worry about what to wear.
When I was preparing for our annual conference this spring, I found myself facing the same dilemma. Our conference was in Orlando, Florida and I had been living in warm fleece throughout our cold New England winter. I asked Jane Pollak, a business coach I admire who helped her with her outfits, and she told me about Scarlett De Bease, a professional Image and Style Coach who specializes in working with women over 40 who are tired of stressing about dressing. I called that day and hired her for a half-day styling session. It was the best investment.
She came to my home and helped me create five outfits with items I already owned! She also suggested a few additional pieces and sent me the links to shop right online. I followed her advice, and I felt great the entire time I was away.
I know I am not alone in these concerns, so I interviewed Scarlett for this article.
What is the ideal, classic outfit to wear to a networking meeting or conference?
- First, do not wear all black as tempting as that may be. It is best to not disappear into the inevitable sea of black that you will most likely see at events.
- Why choose to look like everyone else, when networking is the best opportunity to show your personality, creativity, talent, and confidence in what you have to offer.
- I do not believe in one particular type of outfit for all to wear, as there is no one size fits all look or fit.
Here are my tips to help you decide what to wear:
- The best outfit is one that fits you well, so you are not tugging and pulling at yourself distracting yourself and others from what you are saying.
- Wear a color near your face that brings out your eyes and lifts up your mood. If you do want to wear an all-black outfit, add the color with necklaces or scarves.
- Wear an outfit or accessory that invites conversation and can even bring attention to your business.
What are the top wardrobe challenges you see women facing who work from home?
- It is so easy to get way too comfortable wearing loose and comfy clothes at home, and then when it is time to go out for professional or even personal events, it may become a huge challenge to find what to wear that not only fits but also looks good on you.
- Typically a woman works from home after having been in a more corporate environment, and the outdated power suits she once wore will now age her and make her look like she herself is outdated and behind the times.
- Not having the clothes and shoes that will make her look and feel confident, current and capable when she steps out of the safety of being behind the computer and into the real vs. virtual world.
What are the solutions you suggest?
Don't let the following top 3 three reasons stop you from transforming your image and self-confidence.
- Weight – Waiting or longtime wanting to change before making a change.
- Money – What has buying the wrong clothes and not feeling confident about yourself cost you?
- Fear – Of going out of your comfort zone and letting someone in to help you make a change for the better.
Stop making excuses for something as important as how you represent yourself and business. No matter how good you are at what you do or as fancy as your business card may be, how you carry yourself and what you wear makes the first and lasting impression. I offer weekly suggestions and advice on my blog, and you can download my freestyle guide from my website, Scarlett Image.
I plan to hire Scarlett again this fall to help me prepare for the new year. It is a worthwhile investment so I can go from my PJ’s to Pumps and feel good about myself. If you are looking to hire an image consultant, Scarlett also works virtually, or you can go to the Association of Image Stylists and search for someone in your area.
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Cathi Nelson had her “light bulb” moment when she recognized that consumers were becoming increasingly overwhelmed with the exploding number of photos, media and memorabilia they were accumulating. She started her own photo organizing business called PhotoSimplified and was amazed at the response from clients and others who wanted to learn how to add photo-organizing services to their business. In response she founded, The Association of Personal Photo Organizers to support the new and emerging profession of photo- life management by providing training, support, products and collaboration for people interested in adding photo management services to their existing business or as a new business. Since its inception, APPO has grown to hundreds of members throughout the United States, Canada, Australia and United Kingdom.