This will be a post about clothes, I swear, but first: I have a new job — amongst my freelance writing gigs — and that job is retail.
What’s more, I actually like it.
I know. It sounds odd, but there’s obviously something inherently lonely when blogging all day, hearing your own voice edit and try to spin stories into something at least amusing. I craved people and at least making someone laugh that wasn’t my creepy self as I wrote blog posts.
So that’s why my new gig at a museum gift shop is so refreshing right now. For one, I have to show up at the shop, which is nice if not unusual for freelancing rookie me, who just has to log-on wherever she is at the specified time. I also have to have a scheduled lunch, which reminds me of school in a fun way because I’m now assigned Think Time. Seriously, it was like a reboot to my creative juices having this extra think time during slow moments at the shop — when I’m not eyeing the Jane Austen merch that is. It’s doubly nice because the people around me are all creatively inclined along with being in retail, which I find hopeful and interesting. Artists, actors, media…we’re a nice mishmashed bag of dreamers.
The job’s expectations are at least easing me back into normal work scheduled hours and work life, which I apparently got out of sync with what with interning (schedules and expectations don’t always apply) and freelancing (you’re your own master!). So along with those novel job tendencies, there’s the semi-professional office appropriate wardrobe that I have yet to master. This is most likely due to the fact that I just hate office wear. I mean, I don’t feel myself when I go to interview, where I will wear a button down and a pencil skirt. I have to wear my black flats, which I used to love but now associate with rejection and the hard, hard cement pavement that Adele sand about.
Also I find work wear limiting. Maybe because I just don’t wear office appropriate things on a daily basis — though I’m told that I dress like a stereotypical librarian professional so maybe I sort of do? Here are a few tips I realized while trying to dress like I’m a professional but also be myself.
Tip #1: Blazer Is Your New Best Friend
Get a really cool blazer. You can get away with wearing it on top of an not-so frilly sundress or skirt. Also, office wear likes dark colors, which is why I like my maroon blazer. I tell myself that maroon goes with everything because it doesn’t. Blazers dress up anything to look like I’m trying, but they’re also helpful after work so I can just take them off and meet up with friends after. This also works for cardigans.
I found mine at a thrift shop, because let’s be honest, blazers can be pricey. You’d be surprised by how well some look though, so seriously try on the plaid one or the orange one at the thrift shop. I also got one at Target a while ago that was relatively cheap.
Tip #2: Buy Black Tights Because You Don’t Have Work Pants
A-line skirts with black tights. I didn’t have black pants for my first weeks working and found that playing it off by wearing some of more festive skirts and black tights with black flats went okay. It’s demure, professional, and I still got to wear my skirts. Tights are really easy to find. I got most of mine from Target, but you can really just grab a a few from the drug store.
Tip #3: Put a Bird on It
Find cool pants. I have some bird printed pants along with the staple black work pants. The bird printed pants can be professional because they’re not jeans — or so my reasoning goes — and as long as I pair them with a blazer or even a dark shirt I’m covered. I also have a pair of maroon pants that I’m trying to work out but I’m excited because they’re not just black. I found my bird pants at Housing Works — sort of like a consignment shop. Obviously work pants are always a hit or miss depending on size fit and style preference, so I suggest H&M or Forever 21, which have worked for fellow poor writers. Yes, you can also get yourself something nice for being so hard working and professional. Join the email list or just routinely check Zara or LOFT for sales too. Some of my coworkers caught the shop at a good time and made off like bandits.
Tip #4: Fit Makes You Fancy
Get a vest or (as I and many fans of the Victorian era will call it) waist coat. I realized that fit makes everything professional feeling, and owning a vest makes things like sundresses or just normal button ups feel at least fancier or even as if I’m working on a period film. Win-win in that case. In general I think fit makes you fancy so if a vest isn’t your thing, then even the right belts or the right cuts just make you that much more professional. I have a bunch of those wide elastic belts that come free with dresses. I’m glad I didn’t toss them because they do make some blousey items a little more work appropriate.
I got my vest (as you guessed it) from a consignment shop, but I’ve found some nice ones at Goodwill, H&M, and maybe even on sale at the LOFT. Seriously, when that place has a sale, it’s super nice. Also join their e-mail list. They’ll do online sale stints randomly.
Tip #5: Bigger is Better
Wear big necklaces. This might just be me, but I hate how plain a button up and black pants can become. This tip is actually “try to incorporate anything to avoid plain work clothes.” I wear a big tortoise shell chain necklace on the usual, but I also saw wearing collared shirts as an opportunity to wear more of my jewelry and feel somewhat fancy. So now I have a reason to wear my pearls I s’pose. I actually got a lot of my journal through consignment shops, H&M, and even my mom. She’s got so much stuff, she’s always willing to share her costume jewelry with me. I guess you too can use my mom for this.
Tip #6: Tuck It In.
Tuck in your shirt. That seriously just makes you professional already. That’s all you need to do for any outfit. Also probably iron it.
Tip #7: Pile It On
I hate, hate, hate how plain I can feel when I just wear normal office attire. Can’t I get some texture? Can’t I get a pattern? I made it more fun by piling different things on. Patterned skirts with button ups with blazers with my big necklace. Is this too much? Maybe. Use your own discretion.
There you are. You look more professional already, and all you need is a few new versatile pieces for your closet and creativity. Thus the Poor Writers’ way really.