Dressing for Flexible Working – how a personal style signifier can help

The Working Landscape

We are all familiar with the idea of flexible working.  There are now so many variations on what flexible working is, it is no longer just a question of starting work at 9.30 rather than 9am, or of  working four days in the office and one from home: You may work for yourself; you may work part time for yourself giving you the ability to spend more time with friends and family; you may take one day a week to pursue a hobby or other serious interest and a flexible work arrangement gives you that opportunity; you may work as part of a job share team; you may have chosen to leave a permanent job in your chosen profession in order to work on a self employed consultancy basis within the same profession.

How we do business and where we do business

Whichever of the many variations you may have chosen, the working landscape has changed, and is continuing to change at a fast pace.  Internet connectivity has altered how we do business and who we do business with. It has changed not necessarily who our customers, clients and target audiences are, but definitely where and how they are to be found.  It is now possible to reach global audiences from the comfort of our armchair at home, regardless of the size of your business.

What to wear to work at home

But working at home brings its own challenges, not least of which the challenge of what to wear.  How to dress when either no one else sees you; or when your working life becomes less formal so you no longer have need for those power suits; or when your day is divided up into a series of diverse activities across one day: exercise, work, school run; or across a week:  home one day, travelling the next two, at external meetings on Thursday then back home on Friday presents a challenge.

Why personal style is important when you work from home

My opinion is that personal style counts more when work space becomes flexible.

Why does personal style count more when work space becomes flexible?

Because we need an element of routine in how we dress.

Why do we need this routine?

We need the routine as reassurance – our external reality may change on a daily basis, but if our internal reality, our dialogue with ourselves remains constant then the effort required to cope with the external environment is more manageable.

Why do we need reassurance?  We need reassurance because that external reality can be scary, unpredictable and we could be fearful of it.  If we are in control of our inner reality – those elements that we can control, our personal routines and habits including planning what to wear and then wearing it we exert control over ourselves, thus feel more confident which will spill over into the external reality ie the place in our life where we don’t have total control.

Why consistency is your friend in work and play

In our multi-compartmental, flexible working lives there is also great value in looking consistently yourself in a varied work landscape.  Just as nothing beats the consistency of regularly showing up on time and delivering your work to excellent standards, so too nothing beats consistency in dress and grooming.

Turning up in a beautiful coat and dress one week, but in your jogging gear the next week will transmit a confused message about who you are.

One of the easiest ways to adopt consistency in your wardrobe is with your personal style signifier.

Personal style signifier

A personal style signifier is an item which you wear consistently and which is your personal style marker.  It is something that people will notice about you.  It is something that sets you apart from other people.

It could be a certain type of jewellery,

or a scarf

or high heels, or loafers worn in a particular way.

It could be the wear you wear a coat: always with a brooch, always with a scarf.

It has to be something the you love.  When you put it on you should feel confident.  You should also feel like whatever that style signifier is, you are communicating ‘you’ to the world.

A personal style signifier should not be a straight jacket of rigidly enforced rules  We are not talking helmet hair and starch-sprayed suits in navy blue, black or red.  Personal style signifiers are who you are, expressed consistently on a regular basis.

And it only need to be one thing.  For example, it could be your hairstyle – always in an elegant, at the nape pony tail, or a sleek bob, or long wavy hair, clean and shiny.  It could be jewellery: large earrings, rings, necklaces.  It could be clothes – dresses for example, or scarves, or cardigans or jackets.  Whatever you choose it to be, do it consistently.  It doesn’t mean you can’t change it, this is not a rigidly enforced rule, but as it is something which comes naturally to you, it will be something which you enjoy wearing or feels easy to execute.

It can be anything, though.

What are your personal style signifiers?  Mine are diamond ear studs and large rings.  Let me know in the comments box below.  This is a fun one and I look forward to reading your comments.

Have a great day.


Another blog post you might like to read on personal style signifiers is:

Sarah Banks is a designer, blogger and internet entrepreneur. Having started her entrepreneurial life with a couture wedding and day dress company she then got hooked on all things on-line, bringing her businesses online and fusing both worlds. Her experience and knowledge in creating one-off garments for her clients was the foundation for Working Frocks and she is uniquely placed to give styling advice, being not only a blogger, but a couture designer too.

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.