Wear It Well

Bad (?) Fashion

As a freelancer, I’ve been unexpectedly vexed by fashion. Ironic, no? Wearing pajamas to work is one of the prime ways that we self-employed types revel in our freedom. Yet getting all dolled up is an exercise in self-expression, not to mention self-respect. Besides, just because no one sees you all day, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look fabulous.

When I open my closet each day, I either pick something so “comfortable” (read: slovenly) that I won’t leave the house, or something so sleek that I have to change clothes just to load the dishwasher. This pattern, I’ve decided, is unacceptable.

I’m tempted to follow the lead of a former coworker, who rid herself of wardrobe woes by establishing a uniform and wearing white button-down shirts and blue jeans every single day. Practical, right?

Instead, I’m challenging myself a bit. I want to figure out how to stay relaxed and well-dressed, without spending all my precious paychecks in the process. That way, when a client calls for a last-minute meeting, or I meet someone in the grocery store who happens to need an editor, I won’t look like I just rolled out of bed.

So come … let’s put some clothes on.

My decision to quit my job and travel required that I actually buy some casual clothing, as opposed to damnable pantyhose or whatever that I’d been wearing before. For my trip, I gleefully purchased flowy linen pants, colorful cotton cardigans, and (best of all) my first-ever pair of Converse All-Stars (brown with tiny pink polka dots). Swear to God, I felt like a different person in those Chucks—a person who no longer even owned pantyhose.

Now all that stuff is worn-out and sitting in my closet next to all of the wild range of skirts and scarves and blouses from my previous day job. There’s a huge style gap dividing it all. Somehow, from these disparate items, I have to a) devise some workable outfits and b) shop for a few inexpensive, well-chosen items that will bridge the style gap.

The criteria go something like this:

  • Well-made: Why put my hard-earned money into something that’s going to fall apart?
  • Versatile: I’m a writer. Can I afford a two hundred dollar sweater that only matches one pair of jeans?
  • Comfortable: Isn’t comfort half the point of freelancing?
  • Expressive: I have a brand to promote, and that brand is me. Every time I get dressed, I have an opportunity to express that.

To kick off my fashion revolution, I picked up copies of glossy fashion magazines (guilt-free, as I’ll write these off on my taxes and use the mags to research new freelance writing markets). Then I made a long list of things I need, which I’ll edit way down as I take the next step–which is to go through the catalogs and websites of all my favorite vendors. By the time I finish the list-making and do the math, I’ll know I’m spending my money in the best possible way.

This process worked perfectly last year when I was working hard and didn’t have much time to shop. Now I have the time, but not necessarily the money. So I have to be extra thrifty and find some really good deals. I have resources to gather before I score some quality threads. So wish me luck … and send along any great tips you might have!

3 thoughts on “Wear It Well

  1. Abigail Samoun says:

    The siren call of fashion. Isn’t it bliss? My two favorite resources: Lucky Magazine and http://www.bluefly.com (especially their “under $100” section). I find a good cure for the fashion bug is gaining lots of weight. Then, you don’t go NEAR a dressing room. For a while at least…


  2. laurie says:

    I don’t know if this counts as a tip, but about a year after I quit my “real” job, I cleaned out my closet and gave all of my corporate clothes and shoes to the hooker who lurked near my then-favorite coffee shop. I still smile when I think about what those clothes might be doing now….


  3. Eliza Amos says:

    Well, can’t beat that, Laurie. I don’t know if a hooker would much appreciate my wool skirt collection … but then again, it’s getting pretty cold here in the ATL.

    I just went to Filene’s and plunked down 20 bucks for a poncho–best purchase ever. No one (including me) knows whether it’s fashionable or ridiculous. All I know is I can wear it all the time–with leggings and big wool socks on a cold day or all gussied up with a miniskirt later. Hooray for seemingly stupid trends.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s