All Dressed up and Nowhere to go

I kind of miss getting all slicked up and going into an office to work.

No, I’m not retired — I work for myself. Out of my home.

And while there are a gazillion-and-one positives, the slicking-up thing is one I miss.


In my early career as a newspaper journalist, casual pants and a blouse (or sweater, depending on the weather) were my “go-to” uniform. My makeup was subdued; my hair wash-and-wear. That’s it. I had to be ready for whatever the day would bring, whether it was covering a fire or a meeting or interviewing some official.

Male reporters wore slacks, a dress shirt, and tie (no jacket, unless you were an editor). Some donned jeans; the sports department got away with shorts (or sweats) and T-shirts with team logos.

The female reporters dressed pretty much as I did. Any time one of us appeared for work in a skirt or dress, the others in the newsroom never missed the opportunity to rib us and ask where we were heading that day to require getting “all gussied up.”

After I changed careers and became a pharmaceutical sales rep, I had to purchase a completely new wardrobe. Suddenly I needed suits with matching skirts or slacks, hosiery, heels, a briefcase. My makeup had to be perfect; my hair properly styled; my fingernails manicured with polish. Every day.

When you’re sitting face to face with doctors or pharmacists, promoting your product in big-city convention halls, or working with your manager, you want to look your best. Your company expects it; everybody else looks like a cookie-cutter version of you.

But now I’m a self-employed Web designer. I work from a home office; I wear what I choose.

Outside-the-office meetings with clients or potential clients find me dressing up a bit, but most summer days I’m in shorts, T-shirt, and sneakers; my jeans come out when the weather cools. Who really cares what someone is wearing when they’re working on a computer all day? But I haven’t shaken the habit of putting on makeup, keeping my hair styled and my fingernails polished!

The point is, Now it’s my choice.

Still, every so often, when I’m walking my dog early in the morning and I see cars pass with slicked-up people going to work, I find myself longing to be slicked up, too.

Well, maybe just a teeny bit.

Do I miss it enough to give up self-employment?

Uh-uh. No way.

15 thoughts on “All Dressed up and Nowhere to go

  1. On my work at home days, my clothing is barely acceptable to drop the kids off at school! I like “dressing up” for work. In fact, we have been casual dress since May (and will be through October.) I’m ready for my nicer clothes again.

    That being said, our “dress up” is still pretty laid back – guys never wear ties and the ladies can get by with more casual attire also (and not necessarily with panty hose.) When they guys come in from the East Coast in their dark suits and bright ties, we are reminded at how laid back we really are 🙂

    Since you are your own boss, you could always institute a dress code which requires you to dress up! No? Didn’t think so…

    • I only kind of miss having to dress up — the tech world in general is very laid back. I’ve even known of people who meet clients dressed in jeans and sneakers (not my style, but it doesn’t seem to adversely affect them!). Yes, those poor East Coast types still get “gussied up”!

  2. You’re lucky to not have to worry about dressing for work. About a year ago, the head of our organization instilled a “dress for success” rule five days a week. No jeans, not even on Fridays. So I have spent quite a penny adding new outfits to my wardrobe. Recently he announced we can have casual Fridays back, but still, I’d give anything not to have to worry about dressing up at all.

    • That’s exactly what I’m talking about! It’s the having to dress up that always rubbed me the wrong way. I love having a choice — and when winter comes, you’ll find me most days in my comfy moccasins! Panty hose is definitely one of my least favorite pieces of clothing!

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  4. I know what you mean I sometimes yearn to be motivated to put a little more effort into my work dress code. My mom’s visit has put me back in touch with that feeling..she has never really worked in an office but puts effort into her her appearance every day..while I have become sloppier over time. I will never wear panty hose again, tho, and I am so glad that what I wear is always my choice.

    • I’m right there with you on the panty hose — only an idiot would have invented such a worthless piece of clothing. They’re hot in summer, cold in winter. It’s nice to find another “free” spirit, Katybeth!

  5. As a budding novelist (let’s hope), I work at home now. I quit my corporate job about 7 years ago. Slowly, slowly, the work wardrobe has been shrinking from my closet but I have a dozen jackets/blazers in my guest room closet, half for summer and half for winter, that I can’t bear to part with.

    • Me, too, Lynne! In fact, I’ve still got suits I used to do pharmaceutical sales in — that tells you how much I hate to part with my “good” stuff! The jackets, though, might come in handy for when you get to be famous!

  6. I work in an office environment with a pretty casual dress code. Dressing up is requested when customers come visit, but other than that, we can get away with a lot. IT people doe everything from business casual to shorts and t-shirts. The call center people wear jeans. My department is typically business casual to dressy, with casual Fridays.

    Yes, HAVING to dress up daily gets old quickly. I’m grateful for flexibility.

    • Maybe it’s something to do with working on computers all day, but IT people do tend to dress more casually than most. Salespeople, of course, still have to dress up because they’re in the public eye, but car salesmen sometimes can get away with business casual (especially on football weekends!)

  7. Years ago when I dabbled in nursing educational consulting and worked from my home, I began getting dressed up as if I was going out to work even though I never left the house. I had read somewhere that if you” dress for success”, you would be more likely to be productive. I do think it helped. I have always enjoyed getting dressed for work but I gotta tell you, I am loving the flexibility of staying in my sweats all day during my retirement. I think it brings out the artist in me!

    • Yes, Kathy, I agree that flexibility is key! I must admit that the times when I work in bathrobe and slippers are ONLY at night. I, too, have found that putting my best face forward is more conducive to doing my best work. Enjoy being bohemian, my retired friend — you’ve certainly earned it!

  8. I know the feeling! I also work from home and sometimes miss that dressed up feeling and then I get over it the next morning when I slide out of bed and go down the steps without having to do my hair or makeup.

    • It’s a great feeling, isn’t it? When I crave being more dressed up, I’ll simply schedule an out-of-office meeting or do some cold-calling. Then afterward, I can’t WAIT to pull those fancy clothes off and slip into jeans!

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