A lot of people ask me: What do you wear when you work from home?
I’ve got to tell you, this part of the job does not suck. I frequently wear shorts or sweatpants for most of my time working at home.
But I have a very specific strategy when it comes to my dress code outside my home office—basically, anytime I go out in public that doesn’t involve the gym or the grocery store.
• Client visits
• Speaking gigs
• Coffees with colleagues
• New business meetings
• Pretty much anything else that takes place outside my home during the workweek
So, what’s my strategy? There’s a handful of key elements:
Try to be ‘on trend’
As ridiculous as this sounds for me (I am far from a style expert), I know I have to stay “on trend” as the consultant. I learned this one from my lady friends at Beehive PR who were always on trend. If you’re the consultant, you’re the idea person. The cool person. The stylish person. In many ways, you must play the role. The consultant is hip. Stylish. Cool. Remember though, I said “try”…
When in doubt, overdress
This comes into play mainly on new business presentations. If I’m ever questioning what I should wear, I usually go suit, or at the very least khakis and a jacket. I will rarely go with my standard jeans-and-a-jacket approach. Those first impressions count an awful lot, remember.
Know your audience
For my buttoned-up corporate clients, I rarely bring out the blue suede or bright red Pumas. I know I can’t pull it off. It doesn’t look that great for them, either. But for my speaking gigs and the times when I speak before students? That’s another story. My stiffer, corporate look would be a dead giveaway. So, I try to soften it up a bit. I’ll go jeans and a jacket, but I’ll soften it with the Pumas. I may even just go with a T-shirt underneath the jacket. Know your audience when dressing the part.
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Accessories are absolutely essential
Oh, yeah, I said it, and I’m a man. But it’s true. This one doesn’t just apply to women. Sure, the perfect belt or jewelry may make all the difference for you ladies. For guys, it just means different accessories. Like my Etch-a-Sketch iPhone cover. I get more compliments on that than on anything I own. I have a few hats I’ll wear on occasion—same thing. Lots of compliments.
Those blue suede Puma shoes? Same thing. The accessories make all the difference. Don’t ignore them.
OK, so those are my key offerings. What about you? What are your dress code tips?
Arik Hanson is principal of ACH Communications. A version of this article originally ran on his blog, Communications Conversations.