As a freelancer, I work without a traditional office space (which usually means I'm at a coffee shop or my "home office," a.k.a. my bedroom). So technically, I could wear my pajamas all day long. However, I believe in the psychology of working better when you put some effort into your appearance, so I don't write out emails or social media copy in my loungewear. There is some pretty legit evidence behind this principal, since studies have shown that how you dress can affect your performance at work as well as your career advancement. And we've all had this experience, right? When you look your best, you are probably going to feel a lot more productive than when you're wearing a sweatsuit.
That being said, I don't think you need to wear a full pantsuit to sit with your laptop at Starbucks. You can definitely pull off wearing some comfortable clothing and don't need to dress as though you're a lawyer every time you're going to do some work. The best work-from-home wardrobe involves comfort, ease, sophistication and a touch of glamour, since you'll want to feel amazing but not ridiculously overdressed. It's all about balance!
If you want to step up your home office wardrobe game, here's your guide to finding that healthy middle ground between sloppy and sophisticated.
1. Be Realistic
As much as I might like to think I'll be wearing a sundress every day after March, I'm probably not going to. I love wearing pants and shorts, so stocking up on dresses and skirts isn't a smart idea for me. You might have high aspirations of waking up each day and sporting a killer outfit that's Vogue-worthy, but ask yourself if that's really what you're going to want to do when you're waking up at 7:30 a.m. I'm guessing your enthusiasm won't be as infectious after a late night out.
Consider what you want would wear for a week if your wardrobe choices were totally up to you, and perhaps actually do this! Note the patterns and pieces that show up over and over again in your fashion repertoire. Maybe it's a great pair of bootleg jeans, cozy cardigans or motorcycle vests. Build your workwear based off of your favorite bare bones and add cute accessories, mix in layers and incorporate your own flair. Just like a good work wardrobe is based on the basics you'll need at an office (pencil skirts, blazers, etc.), you're working-at-home wardrobe should be the same — only that what those basics are is completely within your jurisdiction.
2. Create A Schedule
When you don't have set working hours, it can be easy to roll out of bed lazily at 9:30 and spend your morning relaxing in your pajamas. It can be even easier to ruin your focus for the entire day by not getting a good start in the morning! Instead, create your own schedule and stick to it — set certain times that you'll be "in the office" so that your brain will go into work mode without you having to amp yourself up. Even better, doing this can actually increase your productivity and lessen your stress, since you won't be answering random emails day and night or taking three hour work breaks that result in you having to work late into the evening.
Figure out when you want to get up (taking into consideration other things you want to do, like working out, reading or eating) and then set a time for getting dressed and ready. Lay out your outfit the night before and include any showering or primping into this "getting ready time." I actually look forward to getting up and dressed and find that planning ahead gets me even more excited, since I don't have to do anything but actually put on the ensemble.
3. Don't Forget Hair And Makeup
Every woman is different and I would never encourage you to change your hair or makeup routine unless you wanted to, but if you are someone who styles their hair and wears makeup regularly, do this even if you'll be at home all day! It might seem counterintuitive if no one else is going to see you, but just like clothing can help boost your productivity, I believe wearing makeup and doing your hair can have the same effect.
I personally feel the most like myself when I have some makeup on and my hair doesn't look like a rat's nest. If you're like me, take the time to groom! You don't need to look like you're going to walk on a red carpet, since even a simple look can make you feel pretty. Applying some concealer, mascara, and lipstick takes only a couple of minutes, so take the time to do this if you love cosmetics, too.
4. Make Sure Your Clothing Is Comfortable
Listen, you're not going to get any work done if you have on a jacket that's two sizes too small or a pair of jeans that suffocates you at the waist. You're just going to get distracted and probably either be angry with yourself or the clothes for not fitting properly (or you'll abandon the outfit entirely in favor of sweats). I've done this numerous times!
You not only lose productivity and focus, but also time in having to find and change into a new outfit. Figure out what kinds of clothes are comfortable for you to wear all day that are still cute and not completely casual (like leggings or a baggy t-shirt). If you aren't used to doing this, it might be a hard adjustment, since most people have a divide between office attire and at home/going out/lazy Sunday clothing. If you've worked in an office or in a profession that requires a dress code, it might feel weird to do this, and finding comfortable clothes that are still fashionable can seem daunting. But the simple solution is to do some shopping! Try on different styles, find what works for you and start building your basics! (I would recommend trying harem pants, tunics, leggings, skinny jeans and fitted tops.)
5. Stick To Social Conventions Of "Daytime Appropriate"
I'm the last person on Earth who would tell you to abide by society's rules of propriety, but this area is one exception. The fact is, we're all affected by the cultural norms in our societies, but these conventions yield legit observations and pieces of advice once in a while — otherwise known as social cues. When you're going to be working from home, I would advise you to follow your culture's clothing norms.
To all of you radicals, hear me out on this one: If you're wearing something that is, say, reminiscent of what someone might wear to a nightclub, you're probably not going to be in the mindset to work. You'll be feeling ready to go out and live it up! That's not going to result in productivity, which is what your work wardrobe should be all about.
That's why I would advise you to wear clothing that is considered normal for casual daytime outings, since you will not feel out of place if you're at a local coffee house, or self-conscious about everyone staring at you at the library. As much fun as it can be to flex our rebellious fashion muscles, it's probably going to distract you from working. So save your latex mini-dress for your post-work night out!
6. Be Yourself
The best part about getting to work from home is that you don't have to follow a dress code! You can be as individualistic as you would like and you don't have to worry about your boss judging you for wearing 20 bangles — so do it! Express your individuality more and bring your unique sense of style into your wardrobe. Dressing should feel, if anything, a lot more natural! This is the time to think about yourself and what you think looks good. Making a fashion faux-pas won't be nearly as big of an embarrassment if you're just going to a coffee house, so embrace your newfound freedom!
I personally find myself at my best when I have on stylish leggings, a cute top and a fitted sweater or fun vest, topped off with some light jewelry and some gorgeous makeup. This everyday look makes getting dressed easy and fun, so I hope this list helps you to feel the same about dressing to work at your home office.
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