Going to work presents a dilemma. Obviously everyone is nervous on their first ever day in the office, but no one expects you to have qualms about going to work the rest of the time. Yet looking in your wardrobe, standing in front of the mirror, hopping on the bus in the morning, do you ever experience a flutter of apprehension? Wonder if you’re giving the right impression? Think you perhaps should be ‘power-dressing’ more? How do you create the impression you want to give? Here are my personal morning rules.
The Right Trousers
Knowing what you want to wear and why you want to wear it is imperative to giving the desired impression to colleagues, clients and fellow commuters. If you have an important meeting, dress smartly; this much is obvious. But how much emphasis do we put on our own psychology? If you have a big day ahead – an important presentation, an event to run, a crucial meeting to attend – dress in a way that forces you to act like a leader. Once a year, I organise Progression Day for my old high school (yes, I still love them that much, it was a great school!); and for this, I need to feel capable and in charge. I need to have the confidence to express myself and to carry myself correctly in front of prospective parents. I also need to make sure I never entirely relax. My outfit is planned accordingly: red skirt suit, high heels and hair tied up. Red because it’s a motivating, enthusiastic colour; a knee-length skirt because I never wear them, it means I won’t relax entirely and will be reluctant to sit down; high heels so I can look everyone in the eye; and my hair up so I feel less casual. It seems to work.
Having said that, the rest of the time I arrive at my marketing job dressed in jeans and a jumper. We have a casual dress rule; if we didn’t, I’d probably arrive in smart trousers and a smart-but-comfortable top. Being able to function every day necessitates comfort, especially in a job where you’re sitting down for eight hours or more. You don’t want the horrible tight-jeans-band around your middle at the end of the day; you want clothes you can move in, breathe in and work in. Similarly, when I work from home, I dress as if I’m going to work. I never work in my pyjamas; I put on my work clothes and feel immediately less likely to spend the day drinking hot chocolate and watching YouTube. Training your mind is easier than many people think; having a specific type of clothing for work, and wearing this if and when you’re working from home, will help to make your day more productive; and hopefully more pleasant.
You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile
…in the words of Annie. Bad things happen to everyone; bad days occur more frequently than we would like to admit. But part of your duty as a boss, or an employee, or a co-worker, or however you like to define yourself, is to not be a bitch to the people around you. I think this should be written in job descriptions: ‘do not bring your home life to the office’. Of course there will be days when you’re feeling less than sociable, when you just want to sit on your own and feel sorry for yourself, when you’re angry and want to take it out on someone; but this is not what the office is for. Take yourself for a walk in your coffee break; allow yourself that time in the day to dwell on anything that might impinge on your working day; and then put your smile on in the same way you put your make-up on before you left: looking in the mirror and checking to see if it looks natural enough and not overdone. Wear it like you wear lipstick. Convince your brain that it’s as much a part of your ‘working persona’ as your work jacket, your trousers, your hairstyle. Be the person you want to be at work, but make that person compatible with the other people in your office.
What do you think? What are your morning routines? Your self-styling rules? I’d love to hear your thoughts.