What You Wear As a Female Entrepreneur Matters and Here's Why
The general idea of what a “professional” looks like has changed dramatically over the past few years. I think we can probably thank people like Mark Zuckerburg for making it OK to ditch the shirt and tie and head into the office in more casual attire. Gone are the days of power suits and other expensive clothing that you “needed” to show the world that you were serious about business. Now it’s more about your abilities then about what you grabbed out of your closet that morning.
However, the hard truth is that women are still held to different standards than men in the workplace. They’re far more likely to be taken seriously if they’re dressed to play the part. (i.e. a dress or skirt and heels)
When it really comes down to it, though, you’ve got to dress in a way that makes you feel good about yourself, and that’s going to look differently for each and every woman.
It’s commonplace these days to sing the praises of the #laptoplifestyle, but along with a job that gives more freedom is the chance to lose a bit of ourselves.
My style story
After years and years of my primary position being “mommy”, I stopped worrying about my appearance. I mean, I worked for my clients from home, why not embrace the luxury of sweatpants? Or no pants at all! (And I definitely embraced “no pants at all” on more than one occasion.) Not that anyone should have to worry about their appearance, but I wanted to look nice. I just didn’t have the bandwidth for it.
One day I saw myself in the mirror. Black leggings and a raggedy old gray t-shirt from Target that had definitely seen better days. Where had I gone? Where was the overachiever who got her 4-year degree in only 3 years? Where was the sensual woman my husband had fallen in love with? I didn’t see her anymore, and I didn’t really recognize the woman I did see either.
The fact was that it wasn’t just about what I was wearing; somewhere along the way I had lost “me”.
If I was happy working at home in my sweats all week, then cool. But I wasn’t.
Was I comfortable? Hell yes. Did I feel the way I wanted to feel? Nope.
So I bought myself some jewelry and started dressing up my lame t-shirts. I started wearing heels whether it was out to a client meeting or just for a quick run to the grocery store.
It’s really about the way you view yourself
What you wear as a female entrepreneur matters because it’s about how you view yourself—not about how the world tells you professional women should look. Being conscious about my clothing and accessories gave me a renewed sense of self when I desperately needed it, and it also boosted my confidence level—something that can be in short supply when you’re a female entrepreneur.
The world will tell us what we’re “supposed” to look like when we conduct business, but only we can decide for ourselves what a working woman will look like.
For me it’s usually black leggings, cute earrings, and graphic t-shirts. I’ll keep the heels though, because I like them.
Meet the Author: Shauna Armitage
Shauna is a Marketing Director or Fractional CMO helping early-stage startups scale with effective strategies, creative solutions, and unparalleled integrity by making the most of small budgets for maximum impact.
As a vocal advocate for women in business, Shauna is on a mission to redefine what it looks like to be a working woman and to support other women doing the same. She spends her free time traveling with her husband and four kids while drinking Coca-Colas. Connect with her on Instagram at @shauna.armitage.