Or does it?
It seems like what writers—especially freelance writers—wear is a hot topic lately. Maybe because it’s fashion week or maybe because it’s February and people are tired of the weather. Whatever the reason, I’m reading a lot of posts about how writers should dress.
One post called wearing pajamas a bad habit, with the writer arguing that it limits productivity. While I agree with her that working in nothing but underwear could be going a bit too far, I don’t think flannel pajama pants or a worn, favorite T-shirt is a sign that you’re not going to be successful.
On the other extreme is an entrepreneur who dresses according to her task. Her mandate: “Costume yourself for the work to be done. If I’m being a serious writer, I put on jeans and a sweater; if my duties are mostly secretarial, I wear a skirt and blouse; if there are client calls to make, I dress like a tycoon.” While you won’t find me dressed up to do my filing, I do appreciate that she’s found what works for her. I don’t agree that her method fits everyone.
My jobs have required an array of “uniforms,” from purple hair (okay, that wasn’t required, but it was encouraged) and funky jeans to suits to upscale business “casual” (read: business trendy). One of the biggest draws of freelancing for me was the freedom to wear whatever inspired me at that moment.
Truthfully, I do find myself wearing only a small percentage of the wardrobe I own, but I lean towards clothing that feels loose, unrestrictive. Somehow, this seems to let the creativity flow—it doesn’t get caught up in pinching shoes or a formal, buttoned jacket. However, I do make a point of changing my clothes before “commuting” to my home office. With the exception of an occasional 5 a.m. conference call, I don’t roll out of bed and into my desk chair.
Just because I may not wear the same things my clients do does not mean that I am any less professional. When I am an on the phone or replying to an email, I sit up straight and focus. I answer the phone quickly and cheerfully. It could be that my years as a recruiter taught me how to convey the right tone and attitude over the phone.
So I don’t think I need to wear a suit to do my best work. Of course, I do dress appropriately for events, though I still focus on expressing me. It makes me more comfortable—and helps ease networking nerves.
But when I need to brainstorm and find an original way to produce product copy or draft a scene, you’ll find me in something comfortable (and, preferably cashmere) to let the creative juices flow.
Your turn. Does the attire make the writer? Do you think what you wear has an effect on your productivity and your success? Is there a certain sweater you wear when you’re working on an essay? Or do you have “work pajamas” that best fit your freelancing days? Please share in the comments.