What to Wear for Research?!

Friday, March 14, 2014


Dressing for qualitative research has been something I've wondered about since I began.  There's no rule book.  I likely over-think it, but how can you not when you think about decision-making all day?

Have you ever wondered what to wear for complex work situations?

My clients are often CPG, food & bev or other consumer-facing categories.  I'm not interfacing with doctors or bankers (typically) in the proverbial "front room" on most of my projects.  So, that makes me want to have an approachable, down-to-earth, everyday-styled look.

But then there's the "back room."  My clients have a variety of different dress codes for work, but are often dressed business-casual, and since marketers are often involved, they're styled très chic.

I have to bridge that gap: be approachable in the "front room" and dressed to lead in the "back room."

Or, more often lately, I'm the social media research consultant in the room, and the whole suit thing just doesn't fit with my equity...so I like to go for consumer-understanding meets a twist of hipster...whatever that is?!

Mix all of this with the whole mompreneur thing.  I'm busier than ever, and just don't have time to stay up on the latest trends...let alone go shopping.  So, I needed a new way around this problem.

My recent solution has been StitchFix, an online personal styling service.  I value when others have a skill that I just don't have, and let's face it: in this phase of life, I need someone that knows the trends to make this messy criteria happen.


What I appreciated about StitchFix:

  • I did my homework and they did theirs.  I made a Pinterest board of some of my favorite looks.  I shared my profiles.  They even wanted to see my LinkedIn profile to better understand what I'm doing.  Anna, my stylist, wrote me a sweet note about where she found inspiration for each of my pieces - often directly from stuff I shared with her.
  • "How to Wear It" cards.  The cards that come with the Fix show how to dress up and dress down any of the pieces.  Any of my traveling qualitative researchers understand the need for versatility in their pieces.  These cards gave me no-brainer, fresh new ideas without having to launch an ideation session for what to wear.
  • Things I wouldn't have picked for myself.  The gray top would never have been something I would have picked, but it's truly perfect for my ever-changing needs: mom/wife/housekeeper/business owner.  Ha.  You try to pull off a wardrobe that works for all of those things and more!  But seriously, I'm keeping the top and appreciate bringing in a new look.
I'm always looking for new ways of thinking about research here...and clothing does impact our research, whether we want to admit it or not.  Remind me to tell you about the time that I changed my hair color and how it changed my career (a whole 'nother story).  

Yes, if you sign-up for StitchFix using my link, I'll get credits, blah blah blah, but that's not why I wanted to share.  I believe that dressing for qualitative is a thing, and that we're not talking about it today (and if I'm just missing the posts, share them please!)

How do you decide what to wear for your projects?

Any advice for on what works well for you?  I'd love to hear!

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