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.

Why I Work for Myself

There’s something simply splendid about working for yourself!

  • No nit-picking boss (just nit-picking clients!).
  • No dress code (unless you include every-day-as-casual-Friday!).
  • No required starting time (nobody running you off the premises, either!).
  • No putting in requests for vacation and days off (what, you mean other people DON’T work round the clock, even on holidays?).

But there are some downsides, too.

Take, for instance, that last bulleted item. Go ahead, we’ll wait while you read it over again.

Working round the clock. That’s a big part of being your own boss.

If you can’t manage time, if you don’t have an innate sense of responsibility to do what’s necessary to get the job done (right and on time, too!), you might as well forget it.

Go back to being somebody’s minion.

If you consistently feel the need to socialize, or shop, or go golfing, or read a good book poolside — again, forget it.

Those things, when done in moderation, can be wonderful brain-cleansers. They can even help your business if you run into people who need your services — or if you make time for casual networking.

But most entrepreneurs will admit they work harder for themselves than they ever did for a boss or a company. Even the perk of stock options from a company isn’t the same thing as being self-employed.

With only yourself to rely on, you have to be the sales force, accounting department, collections agency, legal department, marketing department, secretary, chief cook and bottle washer, even janitor!

Admittedly, it’s not for everyone. But those of us who do it love it.

We invest so much of ourselves in our business. The business becomes our “baby,” and we have a driving need to see that baby succeed. Our reputation is on the line (and maybe a bit of our pride, too!).

Who doesn’t want to prove — to someone, somewhere — that, despite the odds, they “made it”?!