When men and women dress inappropriately, discipline is often a casualty. When you take care to dress appropriately it means that you respect yourself and those whom you meet. On a personal level when you are dressed well, people respond better.
To be effective and get the credit you deserve for labours done outside headquarters, home-based career women need to take special steps to look part of the scene when opportunities arise to mingle with office-bound colleagues. It has been observed that these gems arrive for meetings in a frenzied state, breathless with some domestic nightmare, unmade-up with hair sorely in need of attention and totally unaware of what they are wearing.
Once a management consultant came to a meeting in a floral dress and scuffed driving shoes as she was too preoccupied to remember to put the right once on. The dress was pretty, definitely mumsy, but not the right image in which to deliver a project review.
Aim for a ‘suited’ effect when pulling separates together. Always wear a jacket layer, even if it is a substantial blouse (e.g. in summertime) over a dress.
Avoid anything sloppy — or too sexy — at all costs. Even though the workplace has become more casual, sweat suits, ripped clothes and anything too exposing are definitely out.
Avoid florals: they scream either ‘tea party’ or ‘mummy’. When unsure, it is always best to pick a neutral colour palette, which can be chic, and is definitely “in” this season.
Pull longer hair back into a smart clip. Short hair should be styled to frame the face, not just combed neatly.
Wear make-up – don’t cheat with just lipstick and powder (all mums do that to go to the supermarket).
Wear earrings for meetings to show you mean business.
Avoid carrying shopping bags to business meetings. Invest in a smart leather ‘shopper’ that can hold papers, a loaf of bread and pint of milk without anyone knowing.
Fine yet hard-wearing hosiery and shoes will convey that you are doing well as a freelance. Polish shoes regularly if you also use them to scoot out to the garden to rescue clothes from the washing line. An extra pair of shoes is recommended. These are handy in case you get called in to a last-minute meeting and need a more elegant look.
Wear clothes that fit you now, not once that once did.
Smell smart, not like disinfectant.
To avoid last minute rush, aim to arrive for meetings 10 minutes early to calm down and get on top of the business at hand.