For many people working from home has had to quickly become the new norm. We’ve all had to adjust to using our homes for pretty much everything; living, eating, schooling, relaxing, exercising, and working.
For the first couple of weeks if you’re new to home working it can be wonderful because you actually don’t have to bother getting dressed at all - you can even work from your bed if you want to. Long term however, this approach can have disastrous consequences on work productivity and wellbeing. It has been shown that the clothes we wear can help us get into a particular mental state – a study published by the Kellogg School of Management found that students who wore a white lab coat (like that of a scientist) performed better in tests that required sustained concentration and attentional focus.
For most of us, our jammies signal that it’s time for bed, to rest, to relax. So if we wear them for work, the messaging becomes confused – we’re often too relaxed when we should be working, and too wired to sleep properly at bedtime.
Sometimes clients tell me that instead of pyjamas they wear their old clothes at home – the things they no longer deem good enough to wear out in public. I agree that there’s nothing better than a favourite jumper you’ve had for years that might be more hole than jumper, but wearing clothes past their best day in and day out does nothing for our productivity or our self esteem either. By all means keep a couple of firm favourites, but why should the time you spend at home be any less important to you than the time you are out? You deserve to wear things you feel good in regardless of what you’re doing, and now more than ever when we’re all at home, we need to maintain that feel good factor and our sense of self that our clothes can bring to the mix.
I have a client who gets up each day and puts on a suit to go downstairs to her office to work from home. She tells me this approach helps her get into the right frame of mind and she’s more focused, productive, and makes better sales calls over the phone. Similarly, when work time ends, she changes into a more casual outfit in order to relax. So, what we wear can and does help influence how we feel, our frame of mind, our energy, and our attitude to what we’re about to do.
On the other hand, some of the benefits from working from home are that you don’t have to iron that shirt, that you can forget the heels that kill your feet, and you don’t need to bother with the tights – you can set the rules of your working wardrobe. You most likely want to feel comfortable, you want to feel productive, and ultimately you want to wear something you feel good in.
So can we create a work from home outfit that allows us to be comfortable without resorting to the pyjamas or the old holes jumpers? Here’s five tips to think about when you’re putting something together.
1. KEEP IT COLOURFUL
If you’ve been to see a personal stylist before, you’ll know we love colour. Not just because discovering flattering colours for a client literally lights them up, but more importantly, it’s the personal connection we each have with colours and how colour makes us feel.
Just because you're at home and possibly wearing more relaxed or casual clothes, it doesn't mean you should wear colours you don't enjoy. The aim is to feel good in these clothes, so pick colours you love. If you’ve seen a personal stylist and had a colour consultation, choose some of your favourite or star colours to build your outfit around.
2. FIND YOUR HAPPY PLACE
Find styles that work for you that you can enjoy working in. For some, like my client, it might be a full on suit. For me it’s definitely comfortable clothes that don’t quite fall into the pyjama realm. Personally I'm a big fan of slim fit joggers – they’re as comfortable as PJ’s and I can keep them on for a quick dog walk.
What styles feel good for you? Perhaps a long jersey skirt, or a cosy jumper? If you’re not sure, start to think about the kind of clothes that you feel good in. In our online course Sustainable Style Studio we spend 12 weeks together online diving into our wardrobe and clients tell me they learn so much about what they love, what they don’t and why. What’s your sweet spot between comfort, feeling good, and your own unique sense of style? Don’t forget, there are no rules, so if you feel good in a suit or a party dress, go ahead. This is a great opportunity to explore what works for you without leaving the house.
3. ADD A SPLASH OF PERFUME
Getting dressed isn’t just a visual experience, and using a favourite perfume can help signal to our brains that it is time for work. It’s also something nice we can do to help feel good, and to maintain our sense of self when everything around us is changing.
4. USE ACCESSORIES WHEN NEEDED
For the casual gals amongst us, if you find yourself needing to jump on a work conference call or Skype meeting, think about what you can add to instantly smarten your outfit for the camera. Most often you'll only be visible from the waist up, so focus on additions near the face, such as a colourful scarf, a pair of earrings or a dash of lipstick.
5. CREATE A WFH OUTFIT.
The lines between home and work have never been more blurred, and one way to maintain a distinction and carve out time for relaxing and productive work is by changing what we wear.
There’s a lot to be said for creating outfits for any given activity. With clients I create outfit charts so they have key looks they can recreate for business meetings, work trips, family events, or whatever is important in their life. It’s useful to create a work from home outfit that you associate with the task. You probably won’t have to think about shoes (I can hear millions of feet breathing a sigh of relief), but a couple of pairs of trousers or skirts and a few tops or jumpers with some possible accessories that you use specifically for when you’re working might be all you need to get through your normal working week from home. This means that when you’ve finished your work for the day, feel free to take off your ‘uniform’, pop on the PJ’s and chill out to your hearts content.
Did you find these tips useful? Leave a comment below and tell us what’s the one action you’ll try for yourself, or add your own top tips for what works for you.
If you know someone who could use some help figuring out what to wear, do share this article with them.