Dress for Success

Productivity actually goes up when you get out of your jammies

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I am the original dress for success girl. In the early years of my career, I never wore the jeans of my software engineer peers. I always wore skirts and heels. I lived the advice that said you should dress one or two levels above the job you had.

Now that I think back, my Mom programmed us to dress for success right from the start. My sister and I weren’t allowed to wear pants to school until seventh or eighth grade. My Mom firmly believed that impressions were important and that a child’s behavior would be impacted by how they dressed. In other words, you were less likely to misbehave if you were dressed up.

Young and Fresh Scrubbed

In my teens and college years my look was young and fresh scrubbed. I was always in the pool or the dance studio, so it worked for me. I run toward the hippy, crunchy side and I’m a vegetarian so the total picture made sense. I still have the waist length hair. As a side note I did try the not shaving the legs thing one winter and decided it was not good, not good at all…

I carried this look well into adulthood outside of work and it served me well for several years. However, at work I was still all business.

Billable in My Bathrobe

Flexibility and controlling my own schedule have always been important to me. I’ve never minded working a lot of hours, but I hated having to be at the office every morning. My first job out of undergrad was as a software engineer in Silicon Valley. Software Engineers are known to swing toward the nocturnal end of the spectrum, so people wandered in somewhere between 9:00 – 10:30 am. My first job out of Business School was for a subsidiary of a major pharmaceutical company. When they told me to be there at 8:00 am the first day, I figured it must be a first day thing since they couldn’t possibly expect people to come in at 8:00 am every day. WRONG. That was an adjustment…

When I first started my consulting business, the freedom and flexibility were intoxicating. We live 90 seconds from a launch ramp on Mission Bay, so I took up water-skiing. In San Diego, we can water-ski all year round. The best water-skiing is found at dawn before the wind picks up. During the week we skied pure glass and had the Bay to ourselves most mornings. This meant I would be home and showered by about 9:00 am. Although we ski in the winter, it’s still a little chilly so I would bundle up in a warm bathrobe and get to work. In those early days, we called what I did Billable in My Bathrobe.

I eventually changed that to Billable at the Beach® when I started my 1:1 program. When we had our first child, we changed Billable in My Bathrobe to Billable While Breastfeeding which morphed into what is now Billable with Baby®. Kind of fun to know how the names evolved.

15 Years of Cut Off Sweat Pants

After all those years of dressing for success, it was a relief to work in bathrobes and sweatpants. Dressing up meant putting on a pair of pants that didn’t have an elastic waist. Yoga pants were not yet a thing. San Diego afternoons are often too warm for sweats pants, so I would chop them into shorts.

I did, however, always dress thoughtfully and professionally for client meetings. These days many of my clients wear jeans, so professional dress may mean jeans for me too, but I always add a jacket and a nice pair of boots.

Why Don’t We Dress Better for Our Families?

Fast forward 15 years, my consulting business is going gangbusters, Billable at the Beach® is 8 years old and I’ve started Billable with Baby®, but I’m still wearing cut off sweat pants when I’m working from home. By the way, I never ever tell a client I work from home, I always say I work remotely. And I refer to my workplace as the office, never home.

Although I feel 28, I’m not 28 any more… And at this point, young and fresh scrubbed is looking haggard and worn out. And after 15 years, I realized (with much delight) that I was never going back to regular days in the office. So, was I going to live the rest of my days in hacked off sweat pants? Or was I going to get my act together?

Why do we dress better for strangers than our families? I do get the comfort factor and letting your hair down, but it was not as if I was in a suit all day at the office any more. I decided to get my act together and start dressing better at home. With a little planning and shopping, it doesn’t take any longer to put on something decent. There are so many comfortable options now that look attractive no matter what your personal style. And with retailers like Old Navy, Target and even thrift shops, you can find something to meet your family budget. After all, you do need something that can stand up to spit up, diaper changes and cleaning up the inevitable breakfast spill. Add a little make-up, some earrings and you’ll feel downright pretty. I bet you’ll be more productive too.

I found a bonus to dressing decently every day. Outside meetings didn’t seem like such a burden because I was getting dressed and doing my make-up even when I didn’t leave the house.

I Want My Kids to Remember a Pretty Mommy

I often think about the fact that I am responsible for my children’s childhood memories. And I take it very seriously. I had such a great childhood. I want the same for them. And yes, in case you are wondering, we keep technology far, far away when they are young. As long as we possibly can.

This may sound funny, but I want my kids to remember me as a pretty Mommy. I want them to remember me looking nice and smelling good most of the time. I do believe all kids think their mommies are pretty, but I like having this extra insurance.

Research Shows

A little bit of research on this topic of dressing better when you work from home shows that productivity actually goes up when you get out of your jammies. In fact, there are several articles on this subject and Pinterest is packed with work from home outfit ideas.

Do You Have a Capsule Wardrobe?

I’ve been meaning to learn more about capsule wardrobes, have you heard that term? Maybe I’m already doing it and I just don’t know.

Coined in the 70’s by London boutique owner, Susie Faux, it’s all about dressing with a small collection of seasonally appropriate, mix-and-match clothes.

According to Susie Faux via Wikipedia, a capsule wardrobe is also a collection of a few essential items of clothing that don’t go out of fashion, such as skirts, trousers, and coats, which can then be augmented with seasonal pieces.

Somehow, I don’t think Susie would include my cut off sweat pants as an essential item even though I had been wearing them for 15 years.

Have you thought about or tried having a capsule wardrobe? What are your favorite links or ideas? We’d love to see them in our free Billable with Baby® Community on Facebook. Post your pictures and links to help a Mama out.

And if you’re thinking, “Oh Amy, the last thing I’m worried about is my work at home wardrobe,” click this Billable with Baby® Free Course – 3 Action Steps to Generate Revenue NOW to get some work coming in the door. That way you’ll soon have a little extra for that capsule wardrobe…

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