Work vs Private Style Persona ETA further revelations

Hi Fabbers

Forgive me if we have covered this previously but I am wondering how many of you have a work style persona and private life style persona?

I am extremely happy with how I have been honing my wardrobe over the last 12 months but in many ways that wardrobe is all about me and my creative expression through clothes, and suited to my non work life. 

Work doesn't have a dress code, however I do.  I liaise daily with clients and volunteers and am often called upon to do presentations, and the like, to promote our organisation locally.  I have things in my wardrobe that work perfectly for those situations but I have been considering a more specific work wardrobe.  Please note this wouldn't require any purchases. It would be more about formally putting together my work capsule, with existing pieces. 

I am not suggesting sacrificing or compromising my style preferences but rather incorporating them into more work appropriate wear.  This is actually something that has been a goal of mine this year and I am pleased with what I have achieved, however I am feeling that for ease I wouldn't mind becoming quite uniform with my office outfits and removing the pressure I sometimes feel to be 'creative' with my work day outfits (especially in the morning).  I am thinking this might just make non work day dressing that little more exciting?  And I only work three days, so I have four days to swan around in my draped black ensembles lol.

As we are heading toward Spring, I am thinking slouchy, tapered pants (I still love this style), slim leg pants, interesting draped tops and Spring blazers/jackets and edgy footwear.

Summer will be interesting as it does get hot but I do work in A/C so a similar formula could work.  And when really warm, dress, jacket and open toe booties could be an option.  The distinction might simply be more of a tailored look at work???  And just in case you are wondering, I am not thinking of adding colour here, still keeping to black, white, grey and blue.

I suppose what I'm asking is do you create a slightly different style persona for work than you do for play?

I am kind of just thinking out loud, but would love to know what you do and what you think of this idea.

xxx Deborah

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • Cerinda replied 7 years ago

    I think I have multiple style persona disorder.  I dress one way among
    friends and family, doing things in town, and when I meet with one sort of client:  that's why Laurie Anderson is an icon for me.  I dress up for other professional situations:  that would be Judi Dench.  When I do research in remote areas, I find it virtually impossible  not to invoke Indiana Jones.  For research in urban areas and for more conservative clients, I default to dressing like my mother:  it's just driving me crazy!

  • Beth Ann replied 7 years ago

    I think it sounds like a good experiment for you, Deborah.  I'm realizing that, at the University, people seem to respond best to my modern classic side.  Shall I give them what they want?  Stay accessible and predictable in order to put them at ease, and reap the benefit of their good perception of me?  I'm planning on giving it a whirl, even though I sometimes feel they need to see women being a bit more bold and powerful.

    You seem to be drawn by the ease of the uniform.  I say, go for it, and report back in 6 weeks!

  • thimblelina replied 7 years ago

    I work with special ed children & young adults so my work clothes tend to be simple, washable, modest, and affordable. I often bike several miles each way to work & my contract specifies I wear flat, closed toe shoes in the classroom. I make small work capsules for different seasons & have no problem working with just a few items. I have 16 pieces of clothing in my current work capsule: 4 toppers, 2 skirts, 2 jeans, 4 blouses and 4 tees. It is very basic. On the weekends I enjoy some of these same items but I have a lot more choices, like tank tops and sandals and heels if I feel like it. I have to say, I really appreciate the simplicity of my work wardrobe because it makes getting ready each day very easy and I am comfortable all the time. I enjoy the chance to play dress up on the weekends but I would hate to feel obliged to look like that every day!

  • Deborah replied 7 years ago

    Cerinda, that would be too confusing for me lol.  I need lots of consistency:)  And I don't want to dress like my mum :)

    Beth Ann, you make a really interesting point.  Being accessible, looking professional (in the eye of the majority),putting people at ease etc can be very important by products of how we present ourselves and can have a huge effect on our success in the work place.   

  • Deborah replied 7 years ago

    Thimblelina, I really appreciate that concept and like the sound of the ease that comes with a small capsule wardrobe for work.

  • Caro in Oz replied 7 years ago

    Sounds like a great experiment Deborah. Would some pieces overlap or would work be completely separate?

  • Sal replied 7 years ago

    I used to do this when I worked in an office - I don't now I work from home.
    I found it worked well, I had a mix of probably about 8 different outfits (mix of seperates, suits and dresses) and I rotated them around (not strictly in order though).  At the time budget was a consideration so I always had 3-4 that I loved and probably 1-2 that I only tolerated with the balance being merely okay.  So of course those 3-4 got a lot more wear, and I wore them most weeks.

    The only downside is that some pieces did become highly associated with work and then I did not want to wear them in the weekend.

  • Deborah replied 7 years ago

    Caro, definitely some overlap. And the freedom to draw from the rest of my wardrobe at whim. I suppose it's a bit like a work capsule full of FFB office appropriate outfits.

    Kiwigal, good point! I only work three days and anticipate overlap and I only have things I love now. I am in the place where I will happily wear the same fab pair of pants all the time rather than have other pairs that don't make me happy:)

  • replied 7 years ago

    I very much have a work capsule that does not overlap with my personal/casual capsule.  I spent many years developing and honing the work capsule.  The majority of my clothing budget was slatted for work clothes.  Without realizing it, I failed to develop a personal (or casual) capsule until I found myself wearing lots and lots of gear on weekends.  Right now, I have no overlap between the work and the casual capsule.  None.  

  • Sharon replied 7 years ago

    Deborah, what is it about the way you dress normally that you feel is not work appropriate? You always look very stylish and polished to me and I can't imagine any workplace thinking otherwise.

    I have realised that I actually far prefer my work clothes to my casual clothes. I love dressing up and I never feel completely fab in jeans. I think my challenge is to choose clothes with a work level of dressiness, but a casual level of comfort, to wear at home. And to stop buying jeans.

  • Lyn D. replied 7 years ago

    I definitely have a 'work capsule' for my volunteer day- all thrifted except for the toppers. Because we are required to wear black- not a colour I choose to wear by choice.
    My  Christmas work starts tomorrow, and as it is an extremely casual workplace it will be the kind of outfits I wear for errands and the like. Jeans and  comfortable shoes etc.

    I guess it can depend on where you are working, and it is great that you can dress-up a bit for your job.
     You are probably already keeping your more on-trend and edgy items for days off.
    Sounds like the best of both worlds to me!

  • lyn67 replied 7 years ago

    I'm the local  head in  my company and very much alone in the office so  I am aware that  the way I dress it should represent it's image and business philosophy  between the employees and  the  local people. 19 Yrs ago it started with conservative business and formal attires as the ownership and the executives of the company we belong to(abroad) were all seniors at that time. By that time it  was a big diffrenece between my work and private style.

    Then, 5 yrs ago  seniors were all gone and I noticed the younger generation immediately shifted dress codes for a busness casual-to-smart casual with an edge(!) and  even sligthly creative way to dress. So I followed them  and loved it soo much! At the moment, my work style is so much closer to my private style, which was always comfy but smart casual, possible with a tiny little bit of edge...

  • Deborah replied 7 years ago

    Sterling, I have always been more dressy than casual and I totally hear you on this. That is what my wardrobe was like before I came to YLF.

    Sharon, it's not that I feel what I wear is not appropriate, to be honest I think I might just be a bit bored ( you know that in between seasons malaise) lol. The general "uniform" at work in my Dept is jeans, ankle boots and tops (not even jackets)! And it could just be the modern classic in me wanting a little opportunity for expression? I know I sound all over the place on this lol.

    Lyn in the only job I had that required me to wear a uniform, I lasted three months lol. So it's wasn't just wearing the colours but an actual RED suit. Red jacket and skirt. It was certainly easy in the mornings but so boring.

    Lyn67, your work place dress code sounds quite a bit like mine. I have long desired to meld my style into something that with tweaks can go everywhere. Perhaps I'm looking for another challenge;).

  • rute replied 7 years ago

    I have been thinking a lot about this latter!
    You have done an amazing job, but boho style person is more difficult to incorporate but in my work everyone dress so casual. I could be more venturous!

  • replied 7 years ago

    Hi Deborah. I, for one, do not think you're all over the place. Could it be that you would enjoy your creative persona outfits more if you wore your something a bit different a few days a week? I know when I've spent a day at home in gear doing housework, I can't wait to put on my nicer clothes the next day. I seem to get more enjoyment out of my clothes when I've had a break from them. Maybe you could try dividing out a more Modern Classic capsule of clothes to wear the days you go to work and see how that feels. Sometimes we just need a change of pace. 

  • Suz replied 7 years ago

    I think lots of people here will relate to your question, Deborah! Coming from different perspectives, of course, but many will understand the yen to keep work life and home life a bit distinct, or will understand the desire for a simple "uniform" to wear to work, or will recognize a need to wear slightly different things in different parts of their lives. 

    Just a few examples: 

    CocoLion (Denise) has an actual work capsule for her work that differs from her regular clothing -- almost no overlap. She needs a uniform to work effectively. 

    Aida built a "weekends" capsule of items a bit more casual than her usual smart casual style because she wanted that distinction and felt her clothes were not perfectly functional at weekends. She didn't have to do this (i.e. she can dress however she likes in any part of her life -- no dress codes -- she just did it.) 

    And lots of others have a slightly different (or even very different) style persona for work than for home. 

    Actually, what you're describing doesn't sound like a different style persona to me. It sounds more like you'd simply like to add a bit more structure to the work outfits vs. the home ones. Same fundamental or core style -- but a few more structured pieces for work. 

    This makes perfect, total sense to me. Although our styles are very different, here is something I have noticed about myself over the past year. 

    1. For home, I really need to dress in pieces that are super comfortable. For me that includes denim and knits. Knits, knits, knits!! Including the odd cardigan for warmth. (These would correspond to your drapey pants, tops.) 

    This surprised me, because I would have told you (and sworn) that I was a jacket girl. 

    And I am a jacket girl!! Love them, love them, love them!!  

    2.  But the truth is, I'm a jacket girl (i.e. need added structure) much more when I am out and about in the world. Whereas I am a knits girl inside. 

    Structure for outside the home tasks/ functions. More softness and ease for inside the home tasks/ functions. 

    This translates into a slightly different line and silhouette for both locations. Same core style. The pieces overlap, for sure. In my case I often wear the "foundation" of an outfit at home and add a jacket if going out. Or I may change more items, because when I'm out and about I also tend to increase my level of formality or "dressiness." But the wardrobe essentials remain the same -- it is the additional outfit completers that tend to change. 

  • MuseumGal replied 7 years ago

    I don't have an answer yet, but I've definitely beenwondering how much of the gypsy in my soul can come out in work ensembles ... I suspect a fair bit, but will take it slow and see.

  • Angie replied 7 years ago

    Debs, I think it's a GREAT idea to have more of a work "uniform". To some extent I think all of us do. I look forward to seeing what you come up with. 

  • Rambling Ann replied 7 years ago

    There is work clothes as part of the theatrical toolkit, especially in leadership roles. DH and I were talking about that this weekend for a presentation he has to give. He's at a level where the full suit is a dividing line over which he may not be able to return. Is it time to cross it? Who is he trying to connect to? Gain trust from? 

    And when I was really young in a leadership role, I dressed the part. Never appeared without a blazer for the authority mantle. Some days it felt like donning battle gear, but it worked.

    If everyone in your workplace is doing jeans and and tees and you are not, you must have good reasons for it. If it's working, I'd consider the work wardrobe almost like costuming for a role you are paid to play. The touchy part  (or creative part, if you like) is integrating your own spin so it feels like you but not fake.

    This is my take, not putting words on you, but I think for me the occasional discomfort came from the daily subtle reminder that I wasn't being paid for my charming individuality, but to fill a role in a play that wasn't about me at all. So the expressive touches were to remind me that I was more than this role and connect 9-5 me to the off duty me. For people whose job is more integral to their identity, there might not be this much separation. Or maybe when you are donning battle gear, you should just quit, which is what I did.

  • Alana in Canada replied 7 years ago

    This is a great idea! Keep us informed how it goes. I'm curious to see what a Deborah "work uniform" would actually look like!

  • ironkurtin replied 7 years ago

    I definitely have "in the office" as opposed to "out of the office" clothing and shoes.  When in-office comes out of the office, I feel overdressed, and out-office definitely feels a bit naughty if I'm called in (like I had to do the other day, luckily I'm "creative" so no one blinked).

    I don't think it's a bad idea to have items that have a certain psychic resonance for you for the office.

  • unfrumped replied 7 years ago

    I like your idea. In some ways it can just be organizing your closet around activity capsules to make dressing easier.
    Recently I felt the need to do something similar in terms of being stricter with my workwear choices. I have really been enjoying new trends and love a lot of the new looks and how the work for smart casual, but got the feeling I was over- casualizing my work look for MY goals. So, words like " cheeky" or " fun" are not really part of that, yet I want to be modern. So I'm trying to adhere to a certain level for work and not confuse modern professional with over casual trendy.

  • Alassë replied 7 years ago

    I like to have a public face - confident and no-nonsense (but still feminine) as opposed to at-home whimsical/casual/ultra-feminine outfits. I think you're on to a great idea/challenge, Deborah!

  • catgirl replied 7 years ago

    I thought a work uniform would make sense, but I spend most of my days at work and frankly I'm not thrilled about how boring it is to dress purely functionally. I think your style translates extremely well to a work environment with just a few tweaks. You don't wear a lot of colors which makes it easier to transition, and your pieces are avant garde but not Out There.

  • DonnaF replied 7 years ago

    Strictly office:  My two pairs of pumps and one pair of dressy sandals.  My dry clean only pencil skirts. 

    I only go into an office about 1x/wk, so I am trying to transition my wardrobe to be more private style friendly -- and washable!

    The office look is definitely more conservative than my preference, and I tend to push the limits.  Blue nail polish anyone?  If I were 30 or 35 years younger, I would conform more to expectations so as to appear *credible*.  I work in law, but not Big Law, so quite frankly my dear, I don't give a d@mn.  I also don't meet much with clients.

  • shiny replied 7 years ago

    I do have a work capsule with some pieces that overlap the personal capsule, and some pieces that theoretically could, but I never choose them for off-duty time. 

    My work dress code is smart casual/ high tech. This means dark wash dressy jeans, dressy top that provides coverage (higher neckline/ collared shirt), topper which could be a leather jacket, cardigan, or suit jacket, nice professional shoes with modest, walkable heel. Sounds like it would overlap with personal life, as I tend to prefer to err on the side of dressy rather than casual already, right?  

    But, the problem is ...

    1. I am never comfortable in jeans. I find them hard to fit ......and then to sit in all day long in a meeting. I've had better luck lately with BF styles but those aren't business appropriate. I have luck with the BR trouser cuts which I could wear every single day... i.e., a uniform indeed!

    2. High necklines and collared shirts aren't my ideal (short neck, busty..) I have built up a capsule of these, finding some that work for my figure and that aren't too constraining (i.e., not stiff). But in personal life, these are the last tops I'd feel like wearing. Then again also even if I wanted to wear them, I won't because I don't want to wear them out too fast, since it was quite the challenge to find these in the first place! So yep, I save them pretty much for work wear only. 

    I am most comfortable in dresses, but for 8 out of 10 work occasions, I look very overdressed compared to my peers and also my bosses. There's more leeway here in the summer months, or when traveling to certain cities (hello Toronto) where people dress up more. I am so happy when I can pack a dress. 

    My second favorite is to wear dress slacks, rather than jeans. I just find dress slacks easier to fit and far more comfortable to wear (travel, sitting in meetings all day long, stuffing face at endless conference meals, etc). For the Fall I've standardized on BR slim-fit Sloan's, which are supposed to be ankle length but on me are full length. Yes, it is a "uniform" approach. I am trying to stay away from the "basic black dress pants" though, as I noticed they seem to be the choice of the older employees (who likely can't stand to wear jeans either). Black ponte knit straight legs - okay. Black slim Sloans - okay. I am talking about classic cut dress slacks here. 

    Shoes: the majority of my shoes can and do serve double-purposes work vs personal, but reality is that it is much more efficient to just pack the black shoes, takes up less room. 

    Toppers: play double duty. I wear same toppers for work or for personal -- and that includes my denim jackets. A quick way to dress down slacks or a dress is to simply add a denim jacket, as a nod to everyone else's dark wash jean uniform! 

  • CocoLion replied 7 years ago

    I LOVE having a work "uniform."  I could try to dress more "me" at work but there are a number of things that get in the way.
    1) "Me" clothes often have more volume.  At least currently.  I have learned that less volume works better for me because a) less fabric to get caught in things or fall into sauces.  Also less volume is more figure flattering and I think my male customers like seeing a more fitted pant on me.  Yes I am older and in a relationship, not trying to attract a mate but let's face it I'm a waitress and having a nice trim figure and backside is more enjoyable for my male customers than seeing me in baggy ripped boyfriend jeans.  Since my income comes from tips (it's a family business and I defer a proper salary so we can make the necessary investments), I don't think I need to explain this much more.
    2) "Me" clothes are made from fussier fabrics.   Which are not sturdy and washable and bleach-able.
    3) "Me" outfits require more thinking.  I like how I can dress for work with very little thought.
    4) Many customers will not understand "me" outfits.  When I used to wear distressed True Religion boyfriend jeans, either customers thought I was too poor to afford un-ripped clothes, or so wealthy so as to be able to afford premium denim.
    5) "Me" outfits don't always work with my work clogs.

    Like Thimbelina, I have found that wearing modest, inexpensive clothing and accessories is best.  I don't want to come off as a superior snobby server.  When people compliment me on my necklaces for example, and ask me things like, is that real opal?  I proudly tell them, $6 from the Kohl's sale rack.

    Every situation is different though.  When I was in a management position it was important to wear tailored, higher end clothing that projected taste, success and authority.  I do make a nod to authority by wearing white button down shirts as opposed to t-shirts which I used to wear.  The shirts project more seniority as befits my role in the restaurant.

    I think it's important to think through all of the many aspects of dressing for work.  Convenience and the image you want to project in particular.

  • Deborah replied 7 years ago

    Thanks so much for your thoughtful and considered thoughts on this topic. 

    I decided to give it a whirl today but it was an (as my 11 year old would say) epic fail lol.  I think I wandered too far of what feels like me.  However it did lead me to a couple of conclusions. 

    I decided last night I would wear black slouchy pants, ink blue collared silk blouse and a jacket (to be decided in the morning).. seems reasonable right?

    #1 Collared shirts just don't look good on me.  I own two collared shirts, both silky fabrications and this silk one, despite being in love with the fabric and the colour, just doesn't work.. it's headed for ebay.  The other collared shirt I own is black and white and works well as a layering piece under my asymmetrical tops, so that stays for the moment, also the collar is quite small.

    #2 Patterns are pretty much over for me.  When the ink shirt didn't work, I tried two other blouses that I have been hanging onto for work purposes.  Both are animal print, one with a black base and the other navy, both of them made be look and feel like my mum.  So they are out :)

    So this exercise, in it's early stages, has highlighted that this may not be as easy as I think !  I may have also identified a wardrobe hole of solid  silky blouses (without collars) for work.


  • CocoLion replied 7 years ago

    Deborah you are headed in the right direction.  You are being mindful about the process and learning from your "epic fails" LOL.

    To realize that collared button down shirts are not for you is huge.  So much easier!  Now you can purge those items.  I made the same realization about silk button downs.  I have 3 or 4 of them including one from Dolce & Gabanna and they NEVER get worn.  Just too dressy for me.  So when I have time, they will be listed on eBay.

    To realize the same about printed items is huge too.  I say post those items and use the funds to buy something else for your newly emerging work capsule.

    As a thought, I might start with jackets and footwear to build the capsule around.  Rather than drapey pants being the capsule core.  That might leave room for skirts, dresses, and different pants.  Just a suggestion, as I know you have some cool jackets/cardigans and footwear already in your wardrobe.

  • Alassë replied 7 years ago

    Some key realizations there, Deborah! I'm glad for you. Just think how much more you'll uncover in the days ahead. :)

  • Elizabeth P replied 7 years ago

    I saw this thread yesterday, but had no time to read or post, but I knew I wanted to come back to it. 

    This is something I've been thinking about as well.  Not so much the uniform side, but the work vs home persona.  I've become fairly happy with my casual wardrobe over the last year, as I've realized some of the elements I like to incorporate suit my casual life better... BF jeans, semi tucked tees, funky footware...  But I struggle a bit with work.  I work almost full time, so am in the office 4-5 days a week.  I'd say my office is business casual, with the odd time a suit or jacket is needed - conferences, meetings with the Big Whigs.  Most of my wardrobe is for work, as even on weekends and evenings, if I'm not going anywhere, I change into gear (yes, still... please don't kick me out...)   I find it tricky to incorportate a little "edge" into my work wardrobe, it gets boring reeeeal fast.  It's very easy for me to be presentable and boring, I'd just rather not be :).  So that's my focus for this winter, and one of the reasons the pleather culottes I recently posted appealed to me - a little different, edgy, yet totally work appropriate.  We'll see how it goes!

    I loved reading all the responses on this, thanks for posting Deborah.  I look forward to following your "journey". 

  • Lisa replied 7 years ago

    This is a great thread.  I tend to sport printed/logo tops on weekends but I cannot sport them to work.  I also wear hoodies on weekends, although I tried to sneak in wearing a plain hoodie under my blazers last fall/winter season.

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