The voiceover industry has a laughable (if enviable) reputation for being able to work in its pyjamas. This is mostly untrue; while I’m sure there is an extreme minority of voiceover actors that actually do record in the comfort of their PJ’s, the vast majority do not. Most voiceover actors are happy to record in their favourite microphone themed t-shirt and a pair of comfortable jeans.
But not me. No, I belong to the extreme minority of voiceover actors at the other end of this sartorial spectrum. When I record, I can be found wearing a tailored dress shirt, complete with cufflinks, a fresh bowtie from my collection of three dozen, cuffed slacks, and leather dress shoes. If it’s chilly I’m likely wearing a waistcoat or sweater vest too. But why do we do it? Why go through all the extra bother and expense to dress up while working alone in a booth where no one can see me? Because that’s simply how I work best!
Just like any other entrepreneur, in any other industry, I strongly care about productivity. Like almost everyone, I work in a very competitive field and I need to ensure that I’m bringing my best, most efficient, self to work each day. I need to do whatever I can to keep my mind sharp and my choices strong. There’s also a performance aspect to my work, so I need to be emotionally comfortable.
I went to a uniformed high school and I’ve worked in several industries with very strict dress codes. Suits and ties are my norm. They are how I feel most comfortable. For some people, it’s that second cup of coffee, but after decades of conditioning, I’m not fully awake until I go through the ritual of tying silk around a freshly pressed collar. It brings the world into focus for me, and tells me that it’s time to be about my business. I just feel better. I feel more like me once I’m dressed like me. And yes, the bowties are a little anachronistic, and the cufflinks are a little flashy, but hey, I’m an actor; you have to expect some crazy behaviour.
In a way, it also comes back to a genuine expression of my brand, and that brand’s expression in my work. My business cards have a clean cut design, blue on white, and somewhat understated. Even this website also reflects my sense of controlled polish, being effective and having everything you might need from it, but without clutter. So too do I bring this intentional self to my appearance. I may spend the day facilitating eLearning, or even just making duck noises (for which I am infamous), but dressed appropriately I never forget that I’m working and that my clients’ needs are similar to my own. And if I can meet their needs better than my competition, I can grow my business and my life. And as Edith Head once said, “You can have anything you want in life, if you dress for it.”