I’ll be the first to admit that as a freelancer, my wardrobe relies heavily on denim. I’m no fashionista, but I also know that there are ways to look polished without having to wear a suit.
- Remember the “business” part of business casual. I’ve been to a lot of conferences in the past year, and I’m a little bit shocked by how many people show up in flip-flops and worn-out logo tees. You’re there to present your professional self, not the clothes that you wear to mow your lawn.
- Ladies, wear shoes that you can walk in. I went to a PR conference and spotted a young woman in a gorgeous black Armani suit. She also happened to be wearing 5-inch red patent leather platform stilettos. More than a few people joked that she was the PR rep from Playboy. Trust me when I tell you that this isn’t how you want to be remembered.
- Watch out for that skirt! From my own “never again” files comes the lovely, full, knee-length skirt. It looks great on me, but I ended up flashing the entire train platform when that pre-train whoosh of air blew into the underground station. And as if that weren’t embarrassing enough, less than an hour later I nearly set the same skirt on fire when the hem passed perilously close to a votive candle perched on a low table at the event site.
- Dress up your jeans. Someone once shared with me their cardinal rule of business casual: jacket trumps jeans. Pairing a tailored blazer with a pair of dark jeans makes you look effortlessly put together.
For those who keep track of me on Twitter, you’ll know that I broke my foot over the weekend. When I went to the doctor on Monday, I wore a practical uniform of my hiking skort – legs exposed for splinting without the danger of flashing my doctor – a white tee and an ever-practical denim jacket overtop to hold my cell phone as I crutch around. Both nurses commented on how I looked so put together compared to the usual cutoff sweats and grungy tees that they usually see. And let me tell you, a single, open-toed ski boot in slimming black? It really makes the outfit.
Are there others that I’ve forgotten? Please share in the comments.
Listen to BTW: [audio:http://iliseb.audioacrobat.com/download/14c51c8b-056e-7341-e776-727e4199005c.mp3] If networking is an issue, here’s an article on “How Not to Network” and a talk on “Interpersonal Skills for Introverts.”