I think having work wear is like having a uniform or armour. It sets out your intention for the day, helps you distinguish between your home and work life, and gets you in the right mindset. I think that having clothing that you specifically wear for your job can be incredibly powerful, particularly as a working mum.
When I first began working in recruitment and coaching, many years ago, my employer had a very strict dress code. Suits in black, grey or navy. It seemed restrictive at the time as it adhered to very traditional dress codes for business (“no brown in town” and all that).
I’m not suggesting that you wear business dress for work. That might not be appropriate. For example, when I worked as an unemployment coach, that type of authoritarian dress code would have been counterproductive. The idea was to be approachable but aspirational – when you go to work you have to be reasonably smart and this is the type of thing you should wear. It also set out the importance and value of our sessions. Then I wouldn’t wear a pinstripe suit, but a dress with clean polished shoes, or trousers and a top.
In all circumstances, though, it gave me a distinct feeling. Putting on those clothes every morning set me up for the day. I was entering work mode. Even now, although I work in an organisation with a casual dress policy, the things I wear to work are generally separate from the clothes I’d wear at home. I might throw in a Joules t-shirt into the mix now and then, but generally my ankle grazer trousers and anything tailored is work only.
As working mum this is so important to me. I never switch off. If it’s not work, it’s family life, or my blog. Having something that formally switches my mode is essential. For me that’s clothing. I know when I wrap a scarf around my neck, slip on my patent loafers, or do up my belt on my pressed trousers, that I’m preparing to focus on my day job.
As I work flexibly, with part of my day at home this is soooo important. I need that physical signal that my work day is about to start and when it has finished. I work eight hours in the office and then do a few hours at home in the evening. I don’t take my work clothes off until that’s done. That’s when I slip into pyjamas or jeans.
If you don’t have the money or desire to buy a few things for a work “capsule wardrobe”, you can still achieve the same effect with a few key pieces. Perhaps, an accessory that changes something casual into something more formal, like a statement necklace or a scarf.
It doesn’t have to be formal either, dressing down for your work might be entirely appropriate. Depending on what you do, having a stash of casual tops and jeans might be right for your day job, and you prefer to go glam in your own time.
I don’t always adhere to these rules. When life is hectic I sometimes just throw in the towel and opt to go casual to work, as my day job doesn’t operate a dress code. I must admit though, it doesn’t quite feel the same.
Do you have a work wardrobe? Do you think it has the same effect, or is it just another load of clothes to wash? Let me know in the comments.