You start your day, have your coffee, and sit at your work desk – all in the comfort of your pajamas—you lucky bird. But then the inevitable happens – you have an important meeting, or you have to stand up a moment, and gasp, the person on the other end of the video, learns about your secret. You’re wearing the same clothes you woke up in or, maybe, you’re wearing your favorite shirt from college with the holes by the neck. Or perhaps you’ve gone straight Lebowski, and you prefer to throw a robe over all of your clothes Dude-style. Not the best look when you’re trying to make a professional impression.
While in a handful of industries, casual dress isn’t a deal-breaker, how you dress to work from home (WFH) reflects how you approach your work and how you see yourself. Have you noticed when you change out of your pajamas or leisure clothes and into office wear, you feel more ready to take things on?
The Research Behind It
According to researchers, that’s not a coincidence. Shifting to a more professional work from home style lifts both your mental health and productivity. This might sound bizarre since you’d think comfortable clothes would always facilitate productivity, but not so much. If boundaries between home and work are blurring or you’re feeling cooped up, designating visual changes in your day helps support productivity. Ultimately, the rise in video meetings, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal, has:
“complicated an area of research known as ‘enclothed cognition,’ or what signals clothes send to the brain, says Dr. Adam Galinsky, co-author of the pre-pandemic research that coined the term. “In some ways, the clothes that you wear might have an even bigger impact because we can often see ourselves and what we’re wearing, and that sort of draws that symbolic value [attached] to it even closer to our consciousness,” he says.
In other words, how you dress to work from home can impact both how you feel about yourself and your work and influence how others perceive you.
That said, life is difficult enough, so if wearing comfortable bottoms helps you to be more productive and resilient, don’t wear pants you have to iron. Indeed, for many women, dressing down gives them back more time in their day to complete other things. Leggings don’t require ironing so that you can get ahead on your day.
Striking a balance between formal wear and comfort doesn’t have to feel difficult. Here are four tips from Clothing Shop Online on how to rethink your WFH style, so you don’t have to feel the blush of shame ever again:
1. Don’t work in your PJs
This might sound like obvious advice, but wearing pajamas to “work” doesn’t establish appropriate boundaries between home life and work life. Especially if you live in a smaller space or have a family, deciding to dress-up for work can establish firm boundaries. Without a visual distinction between work and home life, it can become hard to wind-down at the end of the day. Time starts to bend, and you may lose a sense of yourself, giving in to procrastination.
Making an effort to change can be challenging. Creating a new, healthy habit can take weeks or months, depending on how neurologically rooted your prior habits may be. However, defining distinctions between home and work can support your health in all aspects of your life. Choose a place in your home for your “office,” keeping it as distraction-free as possible (since other distractions, like the dog barking or kids crying, are enough to contend with). Make sure your background is professional – a blank wall, bookcase, or neutral background helps. Avoid images of your bed or more intimate spaces in your home. When in doubt, use a digital filter for your background.
Then, address your work from home wardrobe. What you wear affects how you perceive your work, ultimately helping you to increase productivity. Suppose you wear something that makes you happy – like a stunning silk blouse or well-tailored blazer over a high-quality, fitted t-shirt – your mood lifts. Getting dressed for work helps you feel more productive because it signals to your brain (and those around you) that you’re in “work mode,” inevitably boosting productivity.
2. Keep your WFH Style simple
While you don’t have to succumb to wearing heels or stiff dress shoes (unless this added layer makes you feel more like you’re at work), keep your WFH style clean and comfortable. Balancing style with comfort – a unique privilege of working from home – doesn’t have to be puzzling.
Use staple pieces
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel to look chic when working from home. Don’t hesitate to repurpose quality basics. Whether it’s a long or short-sleeved piece, make sure the collar and sleeves look clean and tailored. You can even get away with wearing a hoodie, but make sure it doesn’t add bulk to your frame and is made of a finer fabric so that it drapes well under a jacket, which dresses it up. You can also dress up staples with accessories, such as tasteful earrings, necklaces, or ties if your basics are collared. For the sake of visibility on video, avoid beanies or hats since they can obscure your face.
Basics work well under a cardigan, a blazer (should you roll that hard), or a light jacket. If you’re feeling exceptionally cozy, wear a turtleneck, which also looks striking under various layers.
3. Upgrading your loungewear
Working for home makes it easier to experiment with your style. This is a great time to rediscover your clothes. You can add interest to your look by choosing luxurious fabrics like silk or cashmere or a good merino piece that makes you feel sharp or even joyful. Throw on a jumpsuit under a jacket or wear jeans and a t-shirt with a blazer. If you work in a more creative field or with children, perhaps a tie-dye or a screen-printed band t-shirt under a blazer could lift your mood and edge.
4. Stay Comfortable
You don’t have to give up comfort to up your style. To get away with wearing a hoodie under your blazer or sweats, make sure they fit you well and don’t look baggy. If you don’t expect to stand (or even if you do), a pair of quality leggings in neutral colors can complement a dressier top. Pair with a nice watch and toned-down jewelry, and you’re good to go. Think soft fabrics, stretch, and loose-fitting for ultimate comfort.
However you define comfort, Clothing Shop Online understands redefining your WFH style is a balance between professionalism and what works for your life.